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on November 21, 2001
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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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!!!"

The book does a good job of laying out each type of problem in detail, and then giving specific solutions. You might say "they're common sense" but obviously if so many managers out there are NOT handling these situations well, they need a little kick in the behind. Maybe they're just too stressed and aren't actually thinking about the problem. Maybe this book will help give them that extra insight they need into using a good solution.

One thing that bothers me is that the book makes it seem that every problem CAN be solved by following these few easy steps. There's a small FAQ in the back that says in essence "Oh yeah, sometimes this fails and you'll have to demote or fire the person." It would have been more helpful if in each section there were the regular tips, but also "drastic steps" and then "when to give up". I suppose they want to be positive - but if they give you only a few things to try, and they aren't working, it would be good to have a progression of what to do next. To keep trying those same things becomes an exercise in futility and frustration. In fact, it's sort of funny, he says at one point that, if these tips don't work, go buy my next book to learn what to do then :)

Still, it's a good basic primer for the new manager of how to handle a variety of situations. I definitely have worked in many situations where managers did NOT know these things and the environment suffered because of it. If you feel like you already know these things, borrow the book at the library and skim through - you might pick up a tip or two. If you're a new manager, then I would suggest buying this. It's the sort of book that you read in the bathroom, going just over a single chapter, and focussing on how to handle that one specific issue. You're probably going to run into all of these issues over time, if you stay on a managerial path.
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on March 22, 1999
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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on March 16, 2014
Have you ever been stumped explaining to a fellow worker what they should do? Have you asked how do I approach this individual? Have you ever looked for a book that has probable employer/employee question and answer dialog? Well if this is true, this book is for you. I have purchased 3 of these books. I gave one to a very likable manager that avoided confrontation and rewarded people for the wrong reasons; After he read this book he said thank you I am going to start using these skills in my management techniques. His team increased in a measurable increase of productivity.

Know what to say when dealing with that difficult to manage employee and turn things around.
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on March 21, 2016
Great Book ! If you need to become a manager or a leader this book is an absolute first step in the right direction.
you can't go wrong with this style of leadership and it relates to almost all aspects of great leadership foundations.
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on November 30, 2013
Gives a very logical perspective of handling your team. What I like about this is that it is very logical, author stays away from opinions and looks at everything completely objectively. Can't disagree with anything in the book.

The title is good for showing up in searches, but this is not a book that you should leave on your desk at work lol. I ripped the cover off.

The "what to do about it" part had some decent examples, but I didn't find it super helpful. Worth every penny of the $0.01 I paid for it lol
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on August 29, 2005
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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on November 3, 2007
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. Long-time managers or those well read in this area might enjoy it as a reminder or refresher for the basics of management but won't find much else to inspire or learn in these pages. Ultimately I give Fourines book 3 stars...a good place to start, but don't stop here!
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on August 27, 2012
Some reviewers have said that this book is nothing more than common sense. Sadly, "common sense" is too often an oxymoron when it comes to addressing performance issues.

I have been recommending this book to both new and veteran managers for years for a number of reasons.

1. It helps managers reduce the emotional component that may exist when an employee "screws up." As a result it becomes easier for the manager to approach corrective action in a calm and reasoned way.

2. It helps managers think through challenges that may exist for repeated underperformers. The performance may not be poor enough to cause the employee to be fired but is defintely unsatisfactory.

3. It helps managers consider that there may be environmental issues that impede optimal performance. Sometimes the process is the problem, not the employee.

4. It's a little like a cookbook. Once a manager has identified a possible issue, there are suggestions about how to deal with it.

Frankly, I use the table of contents as a troubleshooting checklist whenever I encounter any performance issues - including my own. It's somewhat like using the decision tree the Bob Mager created to determine whether a problem requires a training solution.

Simply asking (to oneself) could this be it? Or this? Or this? is a valuable exercise.

While this book is certainly not the be-all, end-all management textbook, it belongs on the shelf of every decent manager.
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on April 5, 2001
I work as a Customer Care supervisor at a Call Center. I purchased this book, along with quite a few other management books, in an effort to immediately and consistently improve my management and leadership skills.
I didn't find this particular book to be very helpful in that endeavor. Many of the chapter subjects are common sense.
The positive side of this book, for me, is that I have worked under, and dealt with, many very poor managers with counter-productive leadership habits. During such unpleasant circumstances, I've often wondered if the individual in question really didn't get how their behavior and habits were adversely affecting morale and productivity.
I'm not currently in such a situation, but if I were, I'd carefully study these simple solutions to the common management problems, and try to gently make suggestions toward their implementation by the manager with whom I'm struggling.
What seems like common sense to someone actively pursuing self-improvement, might not be so common to the hopelessly mediocre manager. It might not make so much sense to them either. So use small words and explain gradually! :)
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