By Norm Spitzig

What exactly makes a workplace “great”? What are the specific characteristics common to those very special workplaces that are universally recognized as the indisputable signs of a superior operation? I believe there are seven such hallmarks. I listed three of them in a separate post that appears elsewhere on this blog. The remainder appear here:

* Reasonable, understandable, and uniformly enforced work rules. Great workplaces have rules and policies that have each of these traits. For instance, if smoking is prohibited in the work environment, NO ONE smokes; not the president, and not the new dishwasher. The rules and policies at great workplaces are not written in language so arcane that no one but a senior tax attorney can understand them. Ideally, they are not written to prevent employees FROM doing something, but rather to set appropriate standards whereby all employees are assured the opportunity to maximize their potential.

* An appropriate blending of tradition and innovation. While great workplaces are environments where employees devote a significant amount of time to improving current products and services as well as creating new ones, they are also places where tradition and continuity are highly valued. Long-standing products and services are not whimsically eliminated to the detriment of loyal customers; rather, they are improved as circumstances dictate.

* Open communication among all vested parties. Great workplaces have regular, honest communication. Staff and customers are given adequate opportunity to convey their ideas and suggestions to company leadership. Managers at great workplaces understand the practice of, “management by walking around,” because they know that this time-tested practice promotes open communication and minimizes potential problems.

* Fiscal responsibility. Last, but certainly not least, great workplaces are fiscally prudent in the manner in which they operate. They have detailed, multi-year business plans that feature (among other areas) realistic cash flow projections. Great businesses rigorously monitor and adjust their financial plans on a regular basis and as circumstances dictate. They understand how much money will be required to provide the products and services their customers want as well as the costs associated with them. The long-term financial well-being of the workplace remains a high priority.

Summary – A great workplace employs happy, productive, and talented people who perform meaningful work compaible with the mission, values, and financial goals of the company. It takes constant effort and vigilance to be a truly great workplace, but the end result is worth it.

Norm Spitzig, Principal at Master Club Advisors, is internationally recognized as a visionary speaker and industry expert. For more information, visit