27 October 2010

First Break all the Rules - the 12 critical questions

"The answers are in the questions."

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do DifferentlyThat's the advice Emma Isaacs, Chief Chick of Business Chicks gave at this morning's Business Chicks breakfast.  And when you have 300 business women in the room, it better be good advice.  Emma briefed us on her journey of building the Business Chicks network from 250 to 250,000 members, in a 5 year period.  One of her greatest leadership lessons came from a book she read early in her career,  'First Break all the Rules" by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman.

The book provides the 12 fundamental questions that employees ask of themselves, that great managers / leaders need to answer if they hope to keep their employees motivated and engaged.  Emma suggests that regular reflection on these questions provides the answers on how to best lead your team.

The 12 questions employees ask, and need positive answers to, are:


  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work? (Do my team members have clear job descriptions, and clarity around projects, tasks and expectations).
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right? (Have they got the resources they need to succeed in their role?)
  3. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday? (Do you have people in the right jobs, where they can use and build on their strengths?)
  4. In the last 7 days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work? (When was the last time you gave praise to the individuals in your team?  If it wasn't in the last week, it's not regular enough.  People crave recognition - your role as leader is to encourage and cheer-lead your team.)
  5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?  (Do you know who your team members are as people, not employees?)
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?  (Do you provide opportunities for your staff to learn new skills and feel like they are moving forward?)
  7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?  (People leave managers, not jobs.  What structure do you have in place for your team members to provide their feedback?  And do you listen when it's given?)
  8. Does the mission / purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?  (Do your team members know how their role fits into the bigger picture?)
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?  (Are you letting poor performers set the standard or are you encouraging people to lift the bar?  The standard your walk past is the standard you set.  Good performers can be demoralised if poor standards are accepted in others.)
  10. Do I have a best friend at work?  (Are you providing opportunities for your team to grow supportive relationships at work?  Work is a big part of their lives, so it's vital for people to have fun and friendship.)
  11. In the last 6 months, has someone talked to me about my progress?  (Are you providing regular reviews and feedback to help people with a sense of direction at work?)
  12. This last year, have I had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?  (Are you providing opportunities for advancement?)
What a powerful check-list for all leaders to grow their leadership capability! Thanks Emma.  Remembers, the answers to business growth and employee engagement are in the questions.