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The Secret to a Great Place to Work


I believe in employees first, but I recently learned a bigger, more important truth. I asked an expert on “great places to work” if putting employees first was the secret to creating a great organization. She said, “Not really.”

In the past:

In, “The Essential Secret to Full Engagement,” I wrote: “Always place the best interests of employees first, always.” If you can’t freely serve your employees while they serve the organization, get new employees or change the organization.

Amy Lyman Cofounder of Great Place to Work® expanded my thinking. Amy’s been studying great workplaces for 30 years and helps create the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work for®.

Both work:

Amy explained that some organizations put employees first. In my region, Wegman’s is a highly successful employee-oriented organization.

On the other hand, Stew Leonard’s, another highly successful company, has two rules. Rule #1 is “The Customer is Always Right!”  Rule #2 is “If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Reread Rule #1.”


I learned it’s not about employee first or customer first. Amy said,

Employees in great places to work feel supported.”

But how:

Support flows through the channel of trust. Leaders always build trust, first. Amy explains in her book, “The Trustworthy Leader,” that employees experience trust through:

  1. Credibility
  2. Respect
  3. Fairness

Amy continues, Leaders create and reflect trustworthiness through:

  1. Honor (I was taken aback by Amy’s comments on honor, more tomorrow)
  2. Inclusion
  3. Valuing and engaging followers
  4. Sharing information
  5. Developing others
  6. Movement through uncertainty to pursue opportunity


“If you want to be successful as a leader (C-level), you need to devote all your time to people issues.” Amy Lyman.

Final quote:

“…leaders do not “lead” money; they lead people.”

What can leaders do to demonstrate credibility, show respect, or establish fairness?

Which of Amy’s six suggestions for creating and reflecting trust do you find most useful? What trust-builders would you add to the list?

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