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First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently Hardcover – May 5, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

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Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman expose the fallacies of standard management thinking in First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. In seven chapters, the two consultants for the Gallup Organization debunk some dearly held notions about management, such as "treat people as you like to be treated"; "people are capable of almost anything"; and "a manager's role is diminishing in today's economy." "Great managers are revolutionaries," the authors write. "This book will take you inside the minds of these managers to explain why they have toppled conventional wisdom and reveal the new truths they have forged in its place."

The authors have culled their observations from more than 80,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during the past 25 years. Quoting leaders such as basketball coach Phil Jackson, Buckingham and Coffman outline "four keys" to becoming an excellent manager: Finding the right fit for employees, focusing on strengths of employees, defining the right results, and selecting staff for talent--not just knowledge and skills. First, Break All the Rules offers specific techniques for helping people perform better on the job. For instance, the authors show ways to structure a trial period for a new worker and how to create a pay plan that rewards people for their expertise instead of how fast they climb the company ladder. "The point is to focus people toward performance," they write. "The manager is, and should be, totally responsible for this." Written in plain English and well organized, this book tells you exactly how to improve as a supervisor. --Dan Ring

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The authors, both management consultants for the Gallup Organization, use the company's study of 80,000 managers in 400 companies to reach the conclusion that a company that lacks great frontline managers will bleed talent, no matter how attractive the compensation packages and training opportunities. With this in mind, they sought the answers to the follow-up questions: "How do great managers find, focus and keep talented employees." Using case studies, diagrams, and excerpts from interviews, Buckingham and Coffman guide us through their findings that discipline, focus, trust, and, most important, willingness to treat each employee as an individual are the overall secrets for turning talent into lasting performance. The book concludes with suggestions on how to become a great manager, including ideas for interviewing for talent, how to develop a performance management routine, and how to get the best performance from talented employees. Although this is clearly an infomercial for the Gallup Organization, it nevertheless offers thoughtful advice on the essential task of developing excellent managers. Mary Whaley

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (May 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684852861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684852867
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (495 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 147 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Johnson on July 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I found this book valuable as it was based on research with over 80,000 managers, not just one person's personal experience. As a manager, the 12 questions that define a great place to work helped me step back and identify what type of environment I am creating for my employees --- or failing to create. Reading the book has led to some very open discussions with my direct reports on those issues. I especially liked the six questions for a review that turn a brief look at past performance into a discussion about what the person needs to do to move forward. I included those questions in my reviews this year.
In our department's people development, we often focused primarily on where people need to improve. The authors gave a different perspective on leveraging strengths and managing around weaker areas.
I also liked the definition of "manager" vs. "leader". Too often management skills are seen as inferior to leadership, yet this book showed that they are separate skill sets. I've got a ways to go with both skill sets, but now have somewhat of a blueprint for how to move forward. This book has helped me look at what I am doing to impact the quality of our work environment.
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123 of 128 people found the following review helpful By John Villa on January 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a recent MBA grad with 15 years' experience in different company environments. I've worked for Silicon Valley startups, large national corporations, and family-owned businesses.
The scenarios, myths, situations, and other examples in the book are 100% right on! Gallup has put names and descriptions on things that I have lived with for years.
Now a manager at another tech startup, I plan on using this book as a template to grow our company into a vibrant workplace that attracts and KEEPS talented individuals.
I don't understand the reviewers who say they gained nothing from this book. There is a well-documented framework that is not weighted down with technical terminology, and a productive toolset to implement the theory.
I especially appreciated the section on creating Advocates, something that I have been prevented from doing by supervisors in past positions. In my opinion, anyone who does not recognize the business implications of Advocates needs to go back and retake Business 101.
Understanding and measuring "Talent" is what this book is based on, and is worth learning. It is not as "out there" as personality typing, and makes good business sense. Put people where they will naturally do well, and your business and Clients will do well also.
I am a firm believer that employees will do what you pay them to do. Incentive plans are critical in controlling what people do on a daily basis. Here, again, this book makes a lot of sense advising that incentive plans must be tailored to the individual.
I do not climb on many bandwagons, but I will get up on my soapbox about this book.
It is simply the best book I have ever read about managing people and making the most of a workplace. Much has been written about what makes a workplace great. This book tells you how to make YOUR workplace great.
I recommend it without hesitation.
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128 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Avinash Sharma, The Yogic Manager on February 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well researched book. The authors arrived at their conclusions after analyzing data collected by Gallup over 25 years - using an impressive sample size of 80 thousand managers and 1 million staff from 400 companies. Gallup has used its expertise in survey research to link employee engagement to business performance. The concepts are well explained and presented.
The essence of the findings lie in the 4 Keys of great managers and the 12 Questions that give organizations the information they need to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees.
The 4 Keys of great managers:
1. Select for talent - the authors define talent as "recurring patterns of behavior" and state that great managers find the match between talents and roles.
2. Define the right outcomes - managers needs to turn talent into performance. This can be done by defining the right outcomes and letting people find their own route toward the outcomes.
3. Focus on strengths - managers need to concentrate on strengths and not on weaknesses.
4. Find the Right Fit - managers need to assign roles to employees that give the employees the greatest chance of success.
The 12 Questions make an excellent list of questions that will be helpful to organizations as well as to employees. The authors group the questions into various categories and explain the importance of each question and group.
I give this book 5 stars because the insights are practical and backed by empirical evidence, and the book is well presented. I was able to apply the concepts immediately. I read this book when I was assigned the role of a team lead. I was able to improve the efficiency of the team by assigning tasks to people based on their individual strengths.
This book has a lot of substance.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By * on November 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I definitely rank this title among 5 best business books I have read. Its conclusions have two strengths: a/when implemented translate to a much improved business performance, b/are exceptionally well backed by a massive research.
This is the essence of my particular out-take from "First, Break Every Rule":
1/Select a person for talent (not for well-roundedness, lack of weknesses). Talent is any recurring pattern of bahaviour that can be productively applied. You cannot teach talent, ergo your time is best alocated when you use and further develop your and your subordinates existing talents rather than spend it on trying to change weaknesses into strengths. Weaknesses can be only neutralized which is a must when they are a major obstacle to talents.
2/Having selected employees, set expectations for them (which are right outcomes and not right steps!), motivate them (when motivating pople focus on their strengths not weaknesses) and develop them (the talents already existing in them).
3/Your employee will perform best when 6 fundamental conditions are met by you as his/her direct superior:
a/She knows what is expected of her at work (outcomes again).
b/She is properly equiped to do the job.
c/She is assigned in line with at least one of her best talents.
d/She has received praise in the last week (which, let us note, will not be difficult if conditions a/,b/ and c/ have been met by her manager)
e/She is convinced that her supervisor cares about her as a person.
f/She feels there is someone at work who encourages her development.
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First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
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