Jonathan Johnson the team player

Team Player: Jonathan Johnson

Jonathan Johnson didn’t know what he was in for when Grinnell Mutual nominated him for the 2022 Gallup Manager of the Year.

A little background on the award: Each company that applies for the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award nominates an employee for Gallup Manager of the Year. Out of those nominees from all over the world, Gallup picked Johnson as one of 10 finalists.

Then came the phone call from the judging panel.

“I had prepared talking points,” he said. “But basically, I could have crumpled that paper up and thrown it away.”

The call turned out to be an hour-long, rapid-fire question-and-answer session based on Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment — with a heavy emphasis on the “rapid fire.”

“They’d say, ‘Do you like to do A or B? Then if you answered A, they’d say, ‘Tell me an example of when you did A,’” Johnson said. “But they only give you 10 seconds to give your response and then they cut you off. It was so weird.”

Ultimately, someone else won, but Johnson considers his experience as recognizance for the next person from Grinnell Mutual to make it that far. “Next time,” he says, “we’ll be prepared.”


So why Johnson? Melissa Feisel, a Human Resources director for Grinnell Mutual, said, “Jonathan was selected based on his team’s impressive engagement results, as a new leader at the very beginning of the pandemic. He joined the company on March 23, 2020 — a week after we went to work from home.”

Johnson, a mutual claims supervisor, attributes his high Gallup scores to setting clear goals and not micromanaging. “There are 10 different ways to go about some tasks, but if we all end up at the same place, I’m not going to say one way is better than another. I also try to check in with each team member about once a week just to see how they’re doing.”


Johnson and his wife Nicole live in Omaha and have three kids: Beckett, 9, Boston, 6 and Bailey, 3 — the “boss of the house.” The kids’ first initials are all “B” as a nod to his love of Boston and all teams New England.

Weekends are usually spent watching the Patriots or Red Sox, watching the kids play sports, or working at home. “My wife and I are homebodies,” he says. “We just remodeled last year so we’re at Home Goods and Nebraska Furniture Mart more times than I’d care to admit.”

When asked what he likes best about Grinnell Mutual, Johnson doesn’t even pause: “Hands down, the company culture. I’ve worked for other companies where you’re just a cog in the machine. You heard from your CEO once a year, and usually it was in the form of a letter that he didn’t even write. But at Grinnell Mutual, whether you’ve been here a day or 30 years, Jeff genuinely enjoys talking with you.”

“I really like insurance. The longer you ‘re in it, the more knowledge you gain, and the more you can help others.”

Spoken like a global top 10 manager.