Thoughts on #Engage Q10: I have a best friend at work

Q10Over the last few months, many of us have been working through the Gallup Q12 survey and engagement process with either our supervisors or an engagement champion. The conversations have been wide-ranging, but the champions report that question 10, “I have a best friend at work” is getting a lot of attention.

We all carry with us an image of what “best friend” means. Within our team meetings, there is often a debate whether it’s even possible to have a “best friend” at work.

In all the training leading up to the survey, the Gallup folks spent a lot of time talking with us about the “best friend” question, often using it as an example of how to discuss results. What we learned is that there are two main aspects to the question: the technical and the practical.

The “technical” answer you get from Gallup is that the question is worded specifically with the intent of separating responses between teams that work well and those that don’t. The point of such a strongly worded question and the term “best friend” was purposeful to get respondents to answer in one extreme or the other. Could they have asked a more general question like “Do you have someone you can talk to at work?” Sure, but that would likely get responses that do not give a true indication of the health of the team. Canstockphoto19756113

On the practical side, Gallup confirms what many of us already know - who you work with impacts you and the work you do in many ways. This list isn’t really a definition of “best friend,” but here are a few things to think about related to the people you work with.

 Is there someone:

  • you look forward to seeing every day, or do you avoid your co-workers or a specific person?
  • who looks out for you when you’re working, or do you feel alone?
  • you can talk to, listens to you, or shares with you, or do you keep your mouth shut?

One of our champions in the districts shared this,

As far as the “best friend at work” question, I point out it isn’t necessarily someone you hang out with after work to go fishing, play cards, have a couple beers, etc.  I’ve explained it as having someone you can talk to about work/personal life.  Also, more or less as someone who “has your back.”  That has really seemed to resonate with the three meetings I’ve had.

So, the underlying concept of the question is something all of us probably really want - to have people we want to work with, who want to work with us, and who want to feel good about doing great work.


It's about building social capital. The research shows that ultimately, getting personal/social at work, does result in increased satisfaction and productivity. Check out the following article for more information

Gallup's question follows the same logic. In their case though, they have a sample of millions that proves the "best friend" terminology helps differentiate high performing teams from low performing ones.

From Merriam Webster's Dictionary:

best friend noun

Definition of best friend

: one's closest and dearest friend
//She's my best friend.

//We have been best friends since high school.

Gallup shouldn't try to redefine a commonly used term. If they wanted the question to mean "Is there someone at work that you can confide in?" then, that's how the question should've been posed.

If the meaning of "best friend" has evolved as outlined above then it must come from the Bill Clinton school of thought that produced "it depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is." It is a bad question.

What Kevin said.

Hopefully we all have a career that we enjoy.
I have been fortunate to have great people to work with.

I believe a career is a means to an end.
While I do have people at work I have confidence in
the idea of a "best friend" is outside the scope of work.

I get that we all need to have and show respect for each other.
That is hopefully a norm. Sometimes some of these ideas may show a disconnect.

Personal life is just that.
Kindest Regards,

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