Thursday, April 5, 2007


A co-worker recently gave me some background on a book he had started reading. My co-worker and I are both high performers, struggling in a company that just doesn’t seem to value or care about its employees. The book we were discussing was 12: The Elements of Great Managing. Through thousands of interviews across various organizations, industries and countries, the Gallup Organization has determined 12 fundamental questions that determine if a workplace promotes an environment that is geared towards enhancing employee’s abilities and talents, resulting in high performance. This is the basis for the book. These 12 questions are:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.

  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.

  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.

  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.

  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.

  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

  10. I have a best friend at work.

  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
    This last year,

  12. I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Copyright © 1992-1999 The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved.

As I was reading through the book and pondering the above questions, I realized that this book very much relates to why people become Work Turtles. In reviewing these questions, it really reveals to me that the simple details of how leaders interact with their employees dictate whether an employee will continue to perform or not. I believe most managers take many if not all of the above 12 questions for granted and become too focused on the tasks and work, instead of their employees.

I began to go down the list of questions and realized that each “No” is the reason for me becoming a Turtle at Work. This lack of management support has resulted in my being further and further withdrawn and disconnected from trying hard.

When I first joined my current company two years ago, I saw that many of the people I would interact with were withdrawn, much like I am now. Being a high performer, I thought that I could re-energize people by working hard, getting results and involving them in the process. I wasn’t aware of the 12 questions at the time, but I was living up to them in how I interacted with employees inside and outside of my department. Even though success came early and often, my attitude did little to change the overall lack of drive in my company. I soon realized I was one person trying to change an overall flawed culture that did not encourage performance.

I realized that I had joined a Work Turtle environment, in which most workers just wanted to do the bare minimum and blend in. I initially felt the workers were wrong in acting this way, because I was giving them 100% effort. However, one manager trying to live by the 12 essentials is not enough to turn a culture around. The book describes that one good manager will create another good manager with the ripple eventually reaching the entire company. The problem is that I am in the middle, not at the top and my ripple of positive employee interaction hit the wall of old school, uninspired upper management.

As I was discussing this book with my co-worker, our boss came over and asked what we were talking about. As I began to explain the concept to him, he simply said “huh”, shrugged his shoulders and walked off before I had finished my comment. I had thought about suggesting this book to my boss as a must read for all in management, my “huh” response told me it would be ignored.

I believe this book is a must read if you are a manager of an organization that actually does care about employees. Managing the 12 elements properly and expecting each manager in your company to do the same will prevent your employees from becoming Turtles at Work.


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