“First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman.

Reflection on “The Measuring Stick” (Chapter 1)


I always knew that a company’s culture played an important role in its success, but I never took the time to dive in and try to understand why. At the beginning of chapter 1, the authors immediately stress the importance of finding and keeping top talent in order to maintain competitiveness within an industry. If you think about it, a company is built around providing a product or service. However, that product or service is essentially worthless if there aren’t people to help develop, improve, sell, and implement it. Therefore, it becomes vitally important for companies looking for long-term success to invest in their employees and the experiences those employees have in the workplace.


This book provides 12 items to simply and accurately measure the strength of a workplace. These 12 items are now commonly known as the Q12 and are as follows:


Q01. I know what is expected of me at work.

Q02. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.

Q03. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

Q04. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

Q05. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

Q06. There is someone at work who encourages my development.

Q07. At work, my opinions seem to count.

Q08. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.

Q09. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

Q10. I have a best friend at work.

Q11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

Q12. This last year, I have had the opportunities at work to learn and grow.


I wanted to share all 12 items because I think it is important for everyone to reflect upon them no matter their current role (employee, manager, executive, owner, etc.). If the majority, in not all, of these items aren’t being addressed in your current workplace, then things need to change to assure everyone is being challenged, productive, and beyond satisfied with their current situation. When that happens, the potential for success will drastically increase.


I have experienced toxic work environments that drove me to hate what I was doing and ultimately led to career changes. I have also been fortunate to work in environments that made me happy, excited and motivated to show up every day. I had one job I was at for 9 months. Another for four years. I’ll let you all decide which one was the more positive experience. What I can tell you is that in both scenarios my superiors played huge roles in making the experiences what they were. I am looking forward to learning more about what makes a great manager in the chapters to come.



7 thoughts on “The Importance of a Strong Workplace

  1. Reading your blog post teleported me back to my days working as a Kirby vacuum salesman, which was like some “Wolf of Wall Street” type of deal with all the pumped up boardroom talks. To sell a $1,200 vacuum cleaner required a fearless, smooth talking individual who you would not find on the street. Yes the ad in the newspaper that said “Make $1,000 a week” was appealing to potential sales people, but it was the hunger of making cash that discerned the wolves from the sheep. The great thing was my supervisor cared about his employees and equipped us each with as many tools as possible. Out of the 12 questions noted in the blog, i can say 10 out of the 12 garnered a positive answer. The job was a thrill and the work environment wasn’t toxic, but over time i got tired of knocking on people’s doors (even though i was 20 years old) so i hung it up to pursue acting. The rest is history after then. I look forward to your next post.

  2. Andreius Harding says:

    This was a great post. I agree that the culture of the workplace is an integral part in its success. Having your opinion count along with having hard work acknowledged and appreciated are things that inspire those to continue to give it their all. I have been in the same boat where it was hard to go to work due to a toxic work environment. Due to this issue I witnessed first hand how a work environment was impacted. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading your next post!


  3. Zach,

    I really enjoyed your post! It was nice to think about the Q12 through the lense as an employee to reflect on my current work environment, which I enjoy, but also to view it in a leadership role. The Q12 will be something I can continue to use when leading and managing others.

    Without having a team who A) enjoys their workplace and B) believes in the company or product/service they are utilizing then the company will fail eventually. With employee turnover, it is hard to create camaraderie within the employees.

    Looking forward to your next post,


  4. Hi Zach,

    Very well written. I appreciate you sharing all of the Q12. If we stop and think about the best jobs we’ve had the Q12 seems obvious, but they are often overlooked as well. I personally find that Q1 should be the most common and yet I have found myself in positions where the job description was so vague or nonexistent it was impossible to actually do a good job. Without clear parameters for what success is it is impossible to be successful. I have a question about the structure of the book. Is each chapter addressing one of the Q12 or will the author be moving past these metrics and into other areas? I already like the topic so I may have to pick up a copy myself!

    Looking forward to more of your posts!

    Brian G.

    • Brian,

      I am glad you enjoyed the post. I couldn’t agree more about the Q1 aspect lacking in many jobs. To answer your question about the book, each chapter does not go into breaking down each of the Q12 items. The first chapter does go into a little more detail on each one. So far through the proceeding chapters, the Q12 gets referenced from time to time but is not the focus of the chapter. I am really enjoying this book and certainly recommend getting a copy if management is of interest to you.


  5. Victoria Price says:


    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. I agree that work culture is very important and can determine how employees feel about working for a person or company as a whole. I also had a bad experience with a place of employment, the employees were always criticized in negative ways and there was no positive feedback, training, or reinforcement. It made for a tense workplace and led to issues between staff members. I found the Q12 very interesting and a good way of determining how well the employees understand and function (and get along) within a workplace, it really is the community that can be the bare bones of a company.

  6. I am thinking your book is timely for me. I just left a job due to a toxic work environment and it was directly related to my “manager.” Continuing to hear more guidance around pick your boss, not your company. For me, this could not be truer. Looking at the list and a few stood out for me #3, 4, 5, and 7. So I didn’t quite make it to 9 months on this one, just 6 months (yikes, but had to rip the bandaid off!). I look forward to reading more about your insights as you progress through the book.

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