break-rulesWhat is the Q12 and how can I use it?

Despite being written in 1998, which might leave you thinking it’s old and a bit dusty, the book; First, Break all the Rules is still challenging the way many companies manage and lead their people.

This was the book written by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, following their research at Gallup. This is a global research organisation that advises companies on how to improve employee engagement, and subsequently see increased performance.  If you’d like to know more about Gallup, you can follow me.

Q12 is the short-hand given to the 12 questions Gallup found most highly correlated with overall job satisfaction, loyalty and high performance.  People who agreed strongly with the 12 statements were shown to have 10-20% higher performance in a wide range of measures.

So what are the 12 questions, and how can you use them?  Below are the Gallup Q12 questions translated into employee statements.

  • I know what is expected of me at work.
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  • My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • I have a best friend at work.
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Ask your team how they strongly they would agree with those statements (you could use the 1-5 scale where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree).  And ask yourself, how well are you enabling each of those statements?

Totem Lollipops

It’s worth noting that the questions are in priority order.  Every time we look at these questions and Gallup’s research on high performing teams, we’re asked about question 10.  “Really, people need to have a best friend?”  The fact is that yes, people who said they did have a best friend at work (along with all the other statements), showed higher performance than those who did not.  But before even considering booking in more socials and getting people to be more buddy buddy – there are nine other things to get right first.

Many organisations stumble at the first three – so start there.  How do people describe why their role exists, the critical outcomes of their work and how they are measured on quality?  Are people consistent in their understanding of what the firm is all about?  Are they clear on what’s expected of them?  Make sure people know what’s expected of them, have the tools they need to do their job and get to do what they do best every day.

Rather than becoming distracted by the amount of things to do, or the challenges with item 10 – focus on getting the basics right.  And even better, ask the team how they will work with you make everything better.  How would the team address item one?  How could you support them?

Hitting two birds with one stone, if you involve the team in responding to these statements, considering how to make things better – that itself is an engagement activity, which hits statement seven.

If you’d like to have a closer look at the book, simply click on the image…