The Gallup 12 is a well-known set of questions used to gauge employee engagement. Many of the questions are tied to whether an employee understands how he/she contributes to the organization’s goals, has a chance to do what he/she does best, and whether or not someone has expressed interest in his/her development. You know, the usual.
But there’s one question on the 12 that tends to throw people for a loop – #10 – I have a best friend at work. Best friend? Who the heck cares if you have a best friend at work? You’re there to work, not join a knitting club. Right? Turns out it’s not quite that simple.
When you start to look into the question (for an excellent overview on the Gallup 12, read 12: The Elements of Great Managing), the reality is that employees are not looking to find their lifelong BFF at work. What they are looking for is the “go to” work friend – someone they can talk with when things get crazy, share their frustrations and victories with, or even as simple as someone with whom they can go to lunch.
This person is your “work wife”, “work husband”…this person is your safety net. In terms of employee engagement, this person is an “anchor” – just like a manager, the job itself, the culture…something that keeps you in the game, motivating you to give discretionary effort to your work.
What if it wasn’t a friend that you really want? What if you just want someone to have your back when things go south?
Let’s face it – work just sucks sometimes. Deadlines shift, approvals rescinded, coworkers annoy. We need to vent. We need to take risks. We need to rock the boat. We need to know we can go complain to someone who won’t “report you” or feel the need to act in an official capacity. That’s what Question #10 is all about – knowing that you can take a chance and someone will be there to support you.
The great thing about Question #10 is that it is position agnostic – it doesn’t matter if you are a manager, an individual contributor, entry level or executive. Each of us has the potential to have each other’s back. So instead of being a jerk, or making a joke, or rolling your eyes – just listen. Offer support. Have someone’s back.
You might be surprised by the difference you can make.