Best friend at work? Just have my back.

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.

keyboard and two persons on white background

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 Deadlines shift, approvals rescinded, coworkers annoy.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.

Are You Engaged? (special guest post!!)

Fret not.  I’ll be posting an article of my own shortly.  I thought this (engagement and finding your happy place) was a good topic for those of you out there trying to survive leadership in one way or another.

Today’s post is brought to you by Dr. Daniel Crosby (@suitedjobs), creator of  Suited is an easy-to-use online tool that provides “fit scores” for folks who are curious about their company culture and/or job, and it provides suggestions for work that might better suit them. Give it a try!  (And if you don’t know Dr. Daniel Crosby, you really should.  He’s smart and stuff.)

Take it away, Dr. Crosby!


Those who came to this post expecting to see pictures of cakes, gowns, and tuxedos, keep surfing. For the rest of you…get back to work!

Sadly, if you do not find work to be engaging, involving, and satisfying, you are among the majority. According to the Gallup Organization, less than 30 percent of working Americans are fully engaged at work. As it turns out, your employer isn’t the only one who loses. In this case, being a part of the majority isn’t such a great thing. Employees who are not engaged not only perform worse, but are less satisfied in their work.


Effectively managing your level of engagement on the job starts before you even receive a job offer.

Setting aside your own self-interest is easy when work is interesting and rewarding. Far too many of us justify our investment to a job with the “It pays the bills” attitude. Determining whether your own values and interests align with those of an organization is an integral step in ensuring your own capacity for engagement.

1.       Know your own values.
If the ghost of your job history’s past kidnapped you in the middle of the night, what would you see? Try it out! Imagine yourself at every job you’ve ever had. Yes, every job – even the ones you deleted from your resume years ago. Which job made you feel the most meaningful? Involved? Satisfied? Energized? Counted on? Brainstorm what it was about the job which made you feel a particular way when you worked.

Keep in mind that the job market today is not always conducive to helping job seekers get in touch with their own values. How many times have you squeezed buzz words into your resume or cover letter to try to catch the eye of a prospective employer? Don’t get me wrong: strategically couching your experience can be very important to help a company see the value you could add. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of your sense of self.

2.       Know the company of interest.
Do your homework on a prospective employer to get a feel for the culture. Browsing a company’s website is not enough to learn what you need to know. A website may help you know about the image the company is trying to portray, but it may tell you little about what it would be like to be a part of the organization.

Identify individuals who currently work for the company of interest. If possible, find employees in a similar role and in the office that you would potentially be working in. Then ask away! If you have already done your homework, employment interviews offer you a chance to supplement what you already know. Capitalize on opportunities to ask questions in interviews to learn more about the organizational culture.

As you can see, setting yourself up to be engaged in your work takes a lot of work itself.

Speaking of work…break’s over!  Get back to it!


Got some thoughts on Dr. Crosby’s point of view?  Think he’s on to something?  Do you believe he stole my writing style?  Leave a comment, give him a shout-out on Twitter (@suitedjobs), or shoot me a note and I’ll pass it along!