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Although many global companies have cut back on office space, they expect to add it back over the next five years

Walker Webcast: People Skills Are Key to Organizational Greatness

“The people part is the hardest part” of achieving organizational excellence, Great Place to Work CEO Michael Bush said on this week’s Walker Webcast. Bush and Gary Pinkus, North America chairman of McKinsey & Company, were on hand to discuss what makes a company great—and how that definition continues to change.

Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker recalled that his own company missed achieving Great Place to Work certification on its first couple of attempts, but built on the feedback Bush’s organization provided with each turn at bat. It has since made the cut in seven of the past nine years, a period that has seen the company attain considerably greater scale. Scale both helps and hurts a company in establishing a culture that its employees identify with, he pointed out.

Asked how “workplace culture” could be defined, Bush replied, “The best way to think about culture is: how does it feel” to the individual employee. Is the employee asked for his or her opinion? Treated with honesty? Listened to? Made to feel respected?

“Great companies have one thing in common: a high level of trust,” said Bush. That trust permeates both the employee base and the company’s customers, Pinkus pointed out.

McKinsey’s definition of a great company differs on a few fine points from Great Place to Work’s but is essentially compatible. Both within its own ranks and when consulting for other organizations, McKinsey puts a high value on listening. That’s a key area as far as Great Place to Work is concerned, as well.

“If you don’t listen to your employees, you probably don’t do a great job of listening to your customers,” said Bush.

Pinkus noted that there are archetypes of great organizations—including the U.S. Army as well as the likes of Salesforce. The key to success is getting your own recipe right within those parameters.

It’s a recipe that will likely need to be fine-tuned as a company achieves greater revenues—in particular, the $1-bilion plateau that appears to be a sticking point for companies on their way up. “What got you there won’t keep you there,” Pinkus said.

In fact, there aren’t too many fast-growth companies that have achieved Great Place to Work certification, Bush said. The factors driving that growth may not be those that make for a great workplace, regardless of whether the employer provides frills such as onsite pool tables.

“It’s not the benefits or the perks,” he said. “It’s how you’re treated.”

On-demand replays of the Feb. 10 webcast are available by clicking here and through Walker & Dunlop’s Driven by Insight podcast series.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).