After over a million employee interviews and testing hundreds of questions, Buckingham and Coffman found 12 questions that can be used in employee surveys to predict whether a department or an entire company is realizing its potential with regard to productivity, profit, retention, and customer service. Those questions, as posed in the book, are:
- Do I know what is expected of me at work?
- Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
- At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
- In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
- Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
- At work, do my opinions seem to count?
- Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
- Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
- Do I have a best friend at work?
- In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
- This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
While many of the questions seem logical enough, there are a few surprises. For instance, “Do I have a best friend at work?” seems strange at first. However, what it appears to be getting at is whether there is someone the employee can genuinely trust. Also, the list contains no questions about pay, benefits, work hours, or physical facilities because the researchers found the questions don’t help differentiate between high-performing and mediocre or poor-performing employees.
The key lesson to be learned from the Gallup research is that department managers really make a difference. Incentive compensation, corporate culture, and strategic direction are all important, but the biggest impact on employee performance and retention is the effectiveness of their manager.
How positively employees respond to questions concerning expectations, recognition, communication, development, and opportunities for growth is primarily influenced by their supervisor’s behavior. Managers who can find employees with the right talents for the job and then emphasize these areas will achieve the highest performance.
How would your employees answer the 12 questions? To learn more, read First, Break All the Rules—What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.