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Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed To Do and What To Do About It 1st Edition

17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0071342551
ISBN-10: 0071342559
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The essential management survival tool­­with all new data from more than 5,000 managers.

The sheer common sense in this classic resource is what every generation of managers is thirsting for­­and that's one key reason the book is a New York Times Business Bestseller a full ten years after its original publication. Drawing on new findings from 5,000 managers, Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed to Do is abundantly expanded to address such new workplace issues as flex time, retaining good employees, telecommuting, workplace stress, technology, the proliferation of service industries, increased use of temps, and violence in the workplace. The solid, down-to-earth, and easily accessible advice in this book makes it a true desk-side companion.


"In simple, straightforward language, Fournies offers practical solutions to the problems of employee performance ... [This book] should be on the desk of anyone who manages others."­­Entrepreneur

"A practical, results-oriented guide for every VP, manager, supervisor, foreman, and small-business owner ... The practical advice provided here is applicable to all kinds of jobs at all levels ... It is an essential resource of innovative, practical ways to achieve optimum employee performance."­­Business Opportunities Journal

"Straightforward answers to a question managers have asked themselves time and time again ... Fournies's book delivers what his title promises."­­Shop Talk

"A fresh management approach to getting better results."­­Association Management

"A practical, down-to-earth book that should help managers improve employee performance."­­Communications Briefing

About the Author

Ferdinand F. Fournies, internationally recognized consultant, speaker, and professor at Columbia's Graduate School of Business is now retired.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071342559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071342551
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 21, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There's probably some stuff in here that would be useful for a manager who is completely clueless, but I didn't find much that would be useful insight for someone further along than that. I gave it a few chapters, because a friend I respect recommended it, but then gave up. I guess the book is okay for what it is, but it isn't likely to make any lasting improvement in your relationship with your employees. It generally comes from a perspective that has been somewhat popular in recent years, to the detriment of business, one that says:
- Process is more important than substance.
- Management can be detached from leadership.
- Management is more about skill than about character.
Employees follow and build loyalty to leaders who lead, not administrators who manage. When you've proved yourself as a leader, when you've proved (by consistent actions over time) to your employees that you really have their best interests at heart, and when you've shown that you'll work with those who want to improve, but will deal decisively with those who poison the work environment, then amazingly enough, employees tend to start doing what they ARE supposed to do.
I'd recommend skipping this one and picking up a copy of Leadership as a Lifestyle, by Hawkins, instead.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Shea HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Talk about a super long title that clearly states what a book is about! When you pick up "Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed To Do and What To Do About It" by Ferdinand F. Fournies, there's no doubt what you think you are getting. The question is of course if you DO get that and how valuable the information is.

There are apparently 16 different reasons why an employee might not do what they should. These are: They don't know why, they don't know how, they don't know what, they think your way won't work, they think their way is better, they think something else is more important, there are no positive consequences, they think they ARE doing it, they are rewarded for NOT doing it, they are punished for doing it, they anticipate negative consequences, there are no negative consequences for NOT doing it, there are obstacles they can't fix, they have personal limits, they have personal problems, and the task is simply impossible. That's quite a lot of reasons for one "problem"! Just having that list can really be helpful. A manager who thinks "My employee is simply an idiot! I told him what to do!" might take a step back and realize there really IS a problem that can be fixed, once it is identified.

I realize that a lot of these items are common sense - but it's amazing how many times in the workplace that I've seen bad managers completely ignore the real problem and just yell at an employee. That rarely helps!

Now, while the basic list is good, I do have some issues with this book. The first is that the book opens telling you "Now a manager could be assaulted or killed by the employee [for not handling problems effectively]." Good God Almighty. Talk about a nasty way to sell a book - "read me or you could DIE!!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hill on March 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Really helpful book! Fournies gives 16 reasons why employees (and maybe peers or others) fail to meet expectations. The book doesn't just give a list, though. It gives succinct insight into how to tell which is the reason in a particular case. Then, once we have the cause identified, it gives good advice on how to correct the root cause. I found it very helpful in handling failed expectations of others -- sort of Sun Tsu's *The Art of War* without the executions. <grin> I recommend this book as a tool for managers at all levels to turn frustration into solutions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas A. Blinn on August 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a basic book for all new managers. It tell you about all the things they don't teach you in school and gives you concrete action plans to take away the negative impact of the problem. The key areas are ranked as to their occurrence in the management environment. It is a quick read and an even faster process of applying the essentials. Great Book! I am recommending it to my students.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amy Aldrich on November 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Reading Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed To...and What To Do About It is just one book out of a "set" that I checked out from our local library that I am currently reading my way through. My housemate was recently promoted to a general manager position at a national pizza chain and was supposed to receive on the job training...but typically, has received none. So, we thought it might be helpful to do some reading on the subject of leadership, management and supervision of employees. This is our second read and overall, I'd say it covers the basics and is a great lead off for doing a reading set (as we are) but this book would probably be useless to anyone who had had adequate management experience or for those who have already done extensive reading in this area.

Fourines leads off with the premise that there are essentially 16 reasons or "root causes" for conflict between employees and managers and he sets out to systematically explain, clarify and give examples for each. It might have been nice for the author to acknowledge that his moderate and positive approach to these issues and problems do not always work...and he offers no progression or escalation of steps beyond the very if you have one of the problems he's describing and the solution given doesn't work, the author really hadn't helped delineate what the progression from there might or should be. The writing here is simple, concise and accessible and the author makes his point very well (with the exception of escalation of problems beyond the scope given). We both enjoyed reading this and feel it's best used by those new to management who are not receiving mentoring or adequate on the job training as they are starting out.
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