Written By: Rodd Wagner & James Harter

In this book, the authors of the bestseller “First, Break All The Rules” take a look at mountains of data from the Gallup workplace study and break down the 12 questions that can mean the difference between success and failure for business culture.

The authors prevent a compelling case as to why each of the 12 essential questions make a difference; a case that I personally found so compelling that I added them in to our management practices here in my office.  Those questions, and my take on the place they fit in the dental laboratory are below.  Please don’t confuse having the questions with understanding their full weight and significance in your business.  The parentheses are my words.

  1. I know what is expected of me at work… (Do you have Quality Standards and Standard Operating Procedures that clearly define workplace and job expectations?  Are there responsibilities that are not explicitly attributed to a specific employee that are a cause of tension?)
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right…   (Is all of the equipment in good working order?  Does anything need to be replaced?  Are there any tools or equipment that would allow you to do a better job than those you use now?)
  3. At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day… (Is there some method that is used to both quantify skills and to put those skills to their best use?  Are any employees languishing in their respective positions?)
  4. In the last 7 days I have received recognition or praise for doing good work… (Do managers and owner make a habit of calling out good work?  Is there a practiced time for evaluation that would allow for this positive reinforcement?)
  5. My supervisor seems to care about me as a person… (Are Managers treating employees as humans, or are they constantly complaining about what’s not happening?  Is there a reward system that would encourage managers to take advantage of subordinates?)
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development… (Is there a clear line to education and mentorship?  Do both mentor and mentee agree to the relationship and have clear expectations for growth been set with both parties?)
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count… (Does management practice patience when receiving feedback from employees?  Are we finding ways to incorporate employee opinions in order to increase the feeling of ownership among employees?)
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important… (Have you stated a mission or goal?  Does each employee understand their role in meeting that goal?  Are employees praised for reaching for that goal?)
  9. My associates/fellow employees are committed to doing quality work… (Is everyone held to the same standard?  Are manager’s favorites given extra leeway?  Is there an objective method of evaluation for all efforts?)
  10. I have a best friend at work… (Does the workplace foster the family concept?  Does it encourage interdependence?)
  11. In the last 6 months someone has talked to me about my progress (Is there a review process in place so that employees know where they stand?  What does the review process look like?)
  12. This last year I have had opportunities to learn and grow… (Are there training opportunities for everyone?  Is there a skill map and growth plan that helps identify growth opportunities for employees?)

This book provides a flurry of data to support the assertions of the Gallup poll.  Each question is given it’s own relevance and growth outcomes tied to it’s high ranking.

This is a great book to browse as a starting point for creating an engaged workforce.  Personally I chose to make the integration of these Elements one of the focal points of our overall business plan.  It helps me develop a framework for employee interaction, review, and counsel as well as serving as a solid reference point for why we do certain things, such as regularly checking to make sure the right tools are available and being used.