When the management guide “First, Break All the Rules” was released in 1999, it made a proclamation that was the opposite of conventional wisdom at the time: The best managers foster strengths and ignore weaknesses.
The authors, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, reached this conclusion by studying 25 years of Gallup studies of 80,000 managers across 400 companies. They determined that managers who allow their employees to thrive are more responsible for their company’s success than are the company’s overall culture and initiatives.
“First, Break All the Rules” went on to become a bestseller, and is the main inspiration for how Lori Goler, Facebook’s VP of people, runs the tech giant’s human resources. She has worked closely with Buckingham through his management consulting firm, TMBC.
One of Buckingham and Coffer’s most actionable findings from their book is that there are 12 questions that “capture everything you need to know about the workplace.” They are:
1. “Do I know what is expected of me at work?”
2. “Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?”
3. “At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?”
4. “In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?”
5. “Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?”
6. “Is there someone at work who encourages my development?”
7. “At work, do my opinions seem to count?”
8. “Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?”
9. “Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?”
10. “Do I have a best friend at work?”
11. “In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?”
12. “This last year, have I had opportunities to learn and grow?”
The ideal result, of course, is that you — and your employees, if you’re a manager — answer “Yes” to all 12 questions.
They come down to the simple idea that personal relationships are important for success in the workplace, and that progress is only made when employees are doing meaningful work.
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