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How Any Manager Can Overcome the Most Common Challenges to Building a Great Workplace

In 2011, we wrote The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It and Why It Matters. It examined the Great Place to Work® Model described later in this paper, and offered examples from recognized best workplaces. As a result of this book, we had the opportunity to speak about great workplaces at a wide range of conferences, seminars, association meetings and company retreats.

We were fascinated by the response we received. On the one hand, participants were enthusiastic about great workplaces; they appreciated the simplicity, intuitiveness, and comprehensiveness of the concepts of trust, pride, and camaraderie. On the other hand, they felt that while creating a great workplace was a worthy goal, they could not see it happening anytime soon. They shared with us that they or their managers didn’t have the time or resources or focus. Sometimes they would offer that that they were too big or too small, too spread out geographically, or in the wrong industry.

Behind these “excuses” was a sense of wanting to have the type of workplace culture that is high trust and high performing, one that engages the hearts, minds and hands of employees, and develops the managers and leaders that create that type of environment. The desire was evident, but so was the sense of futility. “How can we possibly take on the task of creating a hightrust culture when we just had a reduction in our labor force?” they would ask. And on and on the conversation went.

We were puzzled by this because, from our experience, many of the best workplaces had similar challenges – tight resources, a changing strategic landscape, size and geographical complexity, and so on. In our most recent book, No Excuses, we looked to managers in recognized Best Companies to help others (those in not-yetgreat workplaces) understand how to overcome them. Some of what we learned is in your hands or on your screen. We hope it helps propel you forward despite what may seem like insurmountable challenges. Any workplace can be a great one. Yours too.

Jennifer Robin
Michael Burchell

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