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Happy, Motivating, Productive Workplaces

In the 1999 book, First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman developed these twelve questions that most clearly defined happy, motivating, productive workplaces.

The "green employer" can answer these same questions is a sustainable way that grounds the company in greener, more efficient and effective ways. Here's my take on each of the 12 employee concerns:

1) Do I know what is expected of me at work?

Do you provide a set of "green and sustainable" priorities such as how to think with a triple bottom line: profit, people and planet? A simple mission statement about sustainability can work wonders.

2) Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

Is equipment well maintained -- that reduces pollution, energy consumption and improves safety. Do you provide high-efficiency equipment such as "Energy Star" rated that reduces consumables. Do you provide a "system" for recycling ... paper, cartridges, scrap, etc?

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

People who are excited about innovation in their work are more productive. Do you invite ideas, listen and provide rewards for highly effective results?

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

"What you recognize" is as important as how often you recognize behaviors. Appreciation with a smile, a jovial exchange, a cup of tea together, etc. bonds you as a team.

5) Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

Everyone wants to achieve something with their life -- are you helping your coworkers achieve something that is important to them, as well as you?

6) Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Can you find that common ground and engage people's core talents? Providing a needed tool can be more meaningful than a week of bonus vacation! Encouraging someone else also encourages the encourager!

7) At work, do my opinions seem to count?

Collaboration and diversity are important in this increasingly fragmented, global world. If you value your team's diversity, you'll be stronger. Do you provide a platform for regular brainstorming about operations, marketing, sales, design, solutions...?

8) Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel like my work is important?

This is one of the advantages of a green, sustainable mission. It has meaning for not only your company community, but for your family, your neighbors, and even folks on the other side of the globe! Show them!

9) Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

Quality is part of a "system". Do you have a system in place to support, foster and reward quality?

10) Do I have a best friend at work?

Relationships are part of that triple bottom line. "Clan" matters!

11) In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?

Weekly or monthly progress meetings by teams can be very focusing. And emotionally supportive for effective results. Communication and collaboration are the hardest and easiest parts of business -- it's a matter of skillbuilding and system for regular exchange!

12) At work, have I had the opportunities to learn and grow?

We all have the hunger in our bones to learn and grow. That's part of being human. The question is whether our shared goal is big enough and our system organic enough to foster continual mastery, innovation, relationships, and achievement. See it first. Set your system into motion. Then it can happen.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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