Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Great Workplace: How To Build It, How To Keep It, And Why It Matters By Michael Burchell, Jennifer Robin

The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters

The Great Workplace: How To Build It, How To Keep It, And Why It Matters By Michael Burchell, Jennifer Robin

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Product Description

Trust, Pride and Camaraderie-transform your company into a "Great place to Work"

The Great Place to Work Institute develops the annual ranking of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. In this book, the authors explore the model of a Great Place to Work For-one which fosters employee trust, pride in what they do, and enjoyment in the people they work with. They answer the fundamental question, "What is the business value of creating a great workplace?" and brings the definition of a Great Place to work alive with anecdotes, best practices, and quotes from employees working at the best workplaces in the U.S.

  • Reveals the essential ingredients in and the trends of the best places to work
  • Explores Great Place to Work model developed in 1984 and validated through its enduring resonance in both the United States and in over 40 countries around the world
  • Written by Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin two Great Place to Work Institute Insiders

If you organization is struggling with the challenges of leveraging human capital, discover why some companies have what it takes to be great.

Q&A with Authors Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin

What prompted you to write this book?
Both of us have served in various capacities at Great Place to Work® Institute, the research and consulting firm that produces the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® Annual List. After our speaking engagements, people would tell us that they wanted to bottle up the knowledge of the Institute and our advice so they could better take action back home. The message in The Great Workplace encapsulates what we teach in our workshops: great workplaces are ones in which people trust those they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with. And, we know that any workplace can be or become a great one. We wrote this book to share that message with more people and to serve as a reference tool long after our workshops were over. It inspires us to know more leaders will be empowered to create more workplaces built upon trust, pride, and camaraderie.

What is one thing that people are often surprised about when they hear about great workplaces?
People are often excited to hear about the best practices at and the perks offered by companies that make the list, many of which are profiled in the book. But, they are surprised to learn that behind every company's great workplace is not a magical set of programs or practices, or an unlimited budget for perks. What we find behind the curtain are leaders who build strong relationships with employees. We often say that "it's not what you do; it's how you do it." The policies and programs and the perks and celebrations are all examples of "what" is done. But it's not about those things at all. It's about the relationships that these leaders foster, and that depends upon the "how."

If a great workplace isn't about policies, money, or time, but about creating strong relationships, why do you think managers have such a difficult time doing it?
We have never met a manager who didn't intend to create trust, pride, and camaraderie in the workplace. But, in most cases, those intentions aren't supported in today's competitive workplace environment. Managers are often working managers who produce alongside employees--in addition to being held accountable for financial and production goals, upstream and downstream communications, performance management, and countless other administrative responsibilities. Relationships form whether a manager is paying attention or not. Strong relationships, however, take more conscious effort--at least up front.

What are the three key relationships that are found in a great workplace?
Great Place to Work® Institute has been researching great workplaces for 30 years, and in the millions of employee interviews and survey comments, it is clear that trust, pride, and camaraderie are the relationships that matter.

Trust: It is the first of the relationships, and the one that employees spoke of the most often as they described their workplaces. In fact, their comments about this relationship were so numerous and nuanced that they form three dimensions in the Great Place to Work® Model©. They are:

  • Credibility: The degree to which leaders communicate openly and honestly, are perceived as competent in their decisions and in the direction of the organization, and match their words with actions.
  • Respect: The degree to which employees feel supported and cared for and sense that their ideas matter. Employees in great workplaces feel that they have appropriate resources and training, and that they can make suggestions and recommendations. They also feel appreciated, and that their work life-balance, physical work environment, and benefits are all contributors to their great workplace experience.
  • Fairness: The degree to which employees feel that there is a level playing field: they are treated with equity, impartiality, and justice.
Pride: The second of the three relationships found in great workplaces (and the fourth dimension of the Great Place to Work® Model) is the relationship between the individual and his or her work. Essentially, people experience a great workplace when they feel as though they make a difference in their organization, that their work is meaningful. They are also proud of their team's accomplishments, and the contributions the organization makes to the community at large.

Camaraderie: The final dimension of the Great Place to Work® model is camaraderie. At great workplaces, people describe strong relationships with coworkers, feeling welcomed from the very first day, feeling everyone is working toward one common goal, and feeling that they can be authentic at work.

What problems are eliminated when companies become great workplaces?
Great workplaces are not perfect workplaces. They still run into breakdowns in communication, false starts, suboptimal results, and premature decisions. The difference is that in great workplaces, these inevitable snags are much easier to navigate. If people don't trust their leaders, they hesitate, weigh the consequences of action and inaction, and may determine that the safest thing to do is wait and see. In great workplaces, trust is there, so people more easily move forward into unknown territory--and find their way out if it was a bad idea. Moreover, in time, a relational shorthand develops whereby communication happens more quickly and team members can read one another and the environment in a way that saves time and money while avoiding workplace breakdowns.

How do you use the principles of great workplaces in your day-to-day life?
Jennifer here: So many ways! But one that I return to again and again is the value in responding to the person first, and then the issue at hand. According to Great Workplace principles, doing so builds respect and people are better able to extend trust. When people email, call, or approach me, I take the extra time to acknowledge them, their situation, or their life outside of work before launching into more tactical discussions.

And Michael? Now that I've begun to see the world through the lens of trust, I can't see it any other way! When I observe groups in my own job, or in other areas of my life, I often ask myself if I or other leaders are establishing credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. I used to manage a team that was located on the opposite coast. Because I wasn't there day to day, and couldn't read body language or interact as easily with my team, I put a pulse survey into place that would help me gather information from my team so I could make changes. While that survey in and of itself served to build my credibility as a leader, it also provided me insight into other areas where I could make changes.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #45319 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-01-04
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 1.00" h x 6.36" w x 9.00" l, 1.01 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 272 pages
Editorial Reviews

'…a truly inspirational business book -- accessible, easy on the jargon and full of creativity…packed full of great case studies.' (Talent Engagement Review, March 2011). 'Written in an informative, straightforward way…puts engagement and the culture of camaraderie into context for large and small organizations.' (HR Magazine, June 2011).

From the Inside Flap
What Separates a Great Company from a Merely Good One?

The Great Place to Work Institute produces the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For Annual List, which, year after year, features some of the most respected companies in the world—SAS, Starbucks, Cisco, Mattel, General Mills, American Express, and Four Seasons Hotel, to name a few.

In this highly-anticipated book, Institute insiders Jennifer Robin and Michael Burchell explore the concept of a great workplace and answer the fundamental question, "What is the business value of creating a great workplace?" The Great Workplace shows that, more than offering great pay and quirky perks, a great workplace is one where employees trust the people they work for, take pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with.

Drawing on decades of research, the authors explain how leaders and managers can create and reinforce the core values of trust, pride, and camaraderie with every communication, every decision, and every interaction. And they bring the definition of a great workplace alive with anecdotes, best practices, and quotes from employees working at some of the best workplaces, such as Google, Microsoft, Marriott International, FedEx, NetApp, Deloitte, and more.

If your company is struggling with the challenges of leveraging human capital, discover why some organizations have what it takes to be great—and what your company can learn from them.

From the Back Cover
Praise for The Great Workplace

"The Great Workplace lays out ideas that can help turn any workplace into a great one. At, we take these ideas seriously. Our company culture is our #1 priority."
Tony Hsieh, CEO,, Inc., and #1 New York Times bestselling author, Delivering Happiness

"Informative and full of useful advice. The authors' recommendations may call for hard work, but for those who persevere and see them through, the outcome is well worth the effort."
Ian T. Clark, CEO, Genentech

"Important and thoroughly convincing! The Great Workplace shows the way for organizations to get from Good to Great. If you've ever wanted to be on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For Annual List, or simply want to know why some companies excel and others don't, grab your highlighter and dig in."
Adrian Gostick, New York Times bestselling author, The Carrot Principle and The Orange Revolution

"The best places to work outperform their competitors in every country and in every industry. The Great Workplace shows how these companies do it and provides practical advice on how you too can make your company a great place to work. No more excuses not to turn this timely knowledge into action."
Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and author, Power

"Like a customized GPS, The Great Workplace will help your organization navigate its way toward being an exemplary workplace—and steer clear of the bumps, wrong turns, and dead ends along the way. Filled with data-based findings, practical examples, and innovative ideas, this book will prepare and motivate your team for the journey that is to come."
Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO, Scripps Health

"A wealth of new ideas for how to build and maintain a great workplace, even for those who have previously made the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For Annual List."
Ben Salzmann, president and CEO, ACUITY

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
4Inspiration Works
By Jim Estill
The book speaks of several factors that contribute to a great workplace:

Credibility - Belief in the Leader

Respect - People want to feel they are valued members of their organization.

Fairness - People are motivated by the feeling that things are fair.

Pride - People want to feel pride for their work and their company.

Comradeship - People need to feel a part of a group and are happiest in their work if it gives them that sense.

It goes on to elaborate on each of these factors including how they can be fostered.

My view is different people will be inspired by different things. And inspiration is relative - does it mean someone is willing to stay 5 minutes late or give up their weekend to the job.

I always ascribe to a "treat people right" philosophy. Or "be nice", "treat people as people" etc. In most cases this works. The challenge is if people do not view it as "being nice" and "being nice" means different things for different people.

The final chapter was on taking action. Critical in the success of any plan. It speaks of the Balances -

Responsibility and Humility
Passion and Patience
People and Results

I liked them all, although I am not sure they are opposites, exclusive or that they need balance. For example, inspired people are happy AND get great result.

Good book - every leader should read it.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
5Useful tool. Solid, interesting research
By Casmo
Takes the proven 'Great Place To Work' model and expands on it with lots of solid examples from companies we all know or want to. Inside stories kept my interest peaked for a quick read.
o For the leader; tools to move your team engagement to another level,
o For the job seeker; things to look for as you investigate the best place to work,
o For the investor; ideas for evaluating solid long term buys.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
5Practical, well written roadmap
By Alexander B.
I really enjoyed and recommend the book. It is a quick read and easy to understand and follow. For someone who has read quite a few of the management consulting themed books, what I liked about this one is that it lays out a relatively straightforward map to follow in changing the atmosphere of a business in ways that most people could follow pretty easily. There is no shortage of books describing the attributes that make one business great, or why a specific firm performed a specific task so well, but what I tend to find lacking is a simplistic roadmap that the average businessowner could follow to implement the desired changes. Basically, theory versus practice. It's easy to say company A is great because of a degree of internal pride or credibility, but far more difficult to lay out how someone else running company B can get there, and that is what this book does very well. Not that the tasks would be easy and quick per se, but having a useful, actionable outline is an invaluable resource. Cudos to the authors.


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