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130 of 132 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You don't know what you don't know!
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...
Published on July 28, 2000 by Jeff Johnson

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101 of 114 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some basic common sense, not much else
There are a few good common sense ideas in this book. For example: 1.It's hard to change people; 2. Make the most of an employee's talents instead of trying to fix their weaknesses; 3. Don't micro-manage; 4. A good way of doing something is not simply the opposite of a bad way. The authors then contend that these ideas go against conventional wisdom. I don't know what...
Published on February 23, 2001 by Eldon E Mack


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130 of 132 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You don't know what you don't know!, July 28, 2000
By 
Jeff Johnson "Jeff Johnson" (Johannesburg, South Africa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (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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109 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best set of management tools that I've ever seen!, January 27, 2000
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This review is from: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (Hardcover)
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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123 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and well presented. All managers must read this book., February 10, 2006
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This review is from: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (Hardcover)
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. I am sure I will be referring to it often to make the valuable insights a part of my management style. In addition, it does a good job explaining key business terms that people often take for granted, such as talent, skills, knowledge, etc.
I also like the fact that this book has proven some of Peter Drucker's concepts with scientific research. Here are a couple of examples that are verbatim quotes from "The Essential Drucker" :
Chapter 9 : Picking People - The Basic rules: (page 130):
"... the person and the assignment need to fit each other.",
"... effective executives do not start out by looking at weaknesses. You cannot build performances on weaknesses. You can build only on strengths".
"First Break..." is an excellent book that I recommend as a must read to every manager and anybody interested in management.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow the Four Keys and be a Great Manager!, June 21, 2000
By 
(email: shashi-kant@usa.net )
"First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently" is an excellent book, which will help not only the managers, but all other talented employees as well, who have the potential and will eventually become great managers. This book extols the wonders and potential of human resource development in organizations of all sizes.
The authors, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, based on Gallup's interviews over a period of 25 years with about 1 million staff and 80,000 managers from over 400 companies pinpoint "four keys" to evaluate the performance of an organization in general. This reflects the competence of the managers to get the best in terms of:
-Selecting the staff for talent (not just for experience, which can be acquired and updated with rapid change in technology), -defining the right results expected (and should be clearly understood by the individual), -focusing on strength of employees (leaving scope for their professional growth), and -finding the right fit for all of them.
How much successful the manager is with respect to these four keys, will be reflected in terms of performance in assignments or projects the company has undertaken.
I am a firm believer that employees will do what you pay them to do (in terms of responsibility and recognition, scope for professional growth, appreciation and salary).
The authors reach the conclusion that a company that lacks great frontline managers will bleed talent (or, will produce `talented deadwoods'), no matter how attractive the compensation packages are! Why should a highly motivated employee waste his or her time if a weak employee gets the recognition?
First-line supervisors and managers are the key to our success. They are the vital link between the top management and the staff. What separates the great manager from the mediocre manager is the ability to recognize and develop talented individuals right from the initial point of employment, and the key to finding the right supervisor and manager is in this book!
The book also describes: `The Art of Interviewing for Talent' - 'Which are the right questions to ask?' 'Past performance is indicative of future performance'. But it is a must that assessors are more talented than the candidates are. If you promote or favor an employee mainly for his talents, let everyone else know about his capabilities and achievements over the others. Because it is possible that a group of some mediocre or manipulative managers, for their personal gains, form a cabal and help promoting "pseudo talents" and/or mask actual talents. They may do it by passing incorrect or "selective" information about their subordinates to the top management (or "by dragging and dropping" credits from deserving candidates to the `favored ones'). The book, however, does not explicitly describe how the organization can be saved from such managers. "Favoritism" or "First, Break All the Rules", as advocated in this book, can be even detrimental, and may lead the organization to a vertical collapse. Here top management's role becomes crucial, as the staff may not come out openly due to some apprehension or someone's bad experience in the past. Also, while responding to any survey conducted, based on this book, it may not be suitable to reply those 12 questions just in `yes' or `no'.
Gallup's ideal symbolic manager `Michael' says that a true manager is always in the process of learning new techniques. When asked about his best team, he gives credit to the entire team. This is the crux of success! He says, "A manager has got to remember that he is on stage every day. His people are watching him. Everything he does, everything he says, and the way he says it, sends off clues to his employees. These clues affect performance - never pass the buck, make few promises and keep them all."
This book, written in plain English, tells us how to make our workplace great. I strongly recommend you to read and absorb it.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Management Book, November 8, 2002
By 
* "Jake W" (Warsaw, Poland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (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.
You manage around people's weaknesses focusing on their strengths, you choose jobs that play to your strengths, you spend most time with your best employees - there is a consistent streak in this book that calls for giving attention to the positive rather than negative as the way to produce results. A sequel to this book is a logical next step.
Finally, in the light of this reading a talent to identify talents seems to be the greatest of them all.
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101 of 114 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some basic common sense, not much else, February 23, 2001
By 
Eldon E Mack (McLean, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (Hardcover)
There are a few good common sense ideas in this book. For example: 1.It's hard to change people; 2. Make the most of an employee's talents instead of trying to fix their weaknesses; 3. Don't micro-manage; 4. A good way of doing something is not simply the opposite of a bad way. The authors then contend that these ideas go against conventional wisdom. I don't know what conventional wisdom they are talking about since it agrees with most of mine. But then again I went to an engineering school, not a business school. After presenting these ideas there is not much else in the book except a series of disconnected management anecdotes. Curiously most of these anecdotes are examples of bad management. This is in direct contradiction to idea 4 above, which the authors spent several pages discussing. I think the first example of good management was about halfway through the book when they started to talk about Southwest Airlines. (Actually if someone wants to write a good management book, do a case study on Southwest Airlines.) Also most of the examples deal with restaraunts, hotels, and banks with almost none from a high tech or software business. Finally I think (and this is conventional wisdom again) a good manager must be able to 1.Prioritize; 2.Organize. The authors say nothing of these abilities and obviously know little about them.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Data-Driven Conclusions, April 11, 2001
By 
Daniel L. Frazier "maroonchief" (Kwajalein, Marshall Islands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (Hardcover)
Management books are everywhere. They espouse a great many theories. Often they explain what has worked well for one corporation, industry, or professional field. The books share the secrets of success as understood by that shining example. The data consists of their productivity indicators. But what may work well for one, may not work for another.
The book First, Break All the Rules by Buckingham and Coffman has the data. It is a research-based analysis of over 80,000 managers in over 400 companies. Their conclusions are the result of their data analysis rather than the other way around.
The essence of the book consists of 12 questions that have a high degree of statistical reliability in predicting organizational productivity and success. Buckingham and Coffman then go on to offer four keys to receiving a high score from employees. The keys break with conventional thinking and rules of operation: talent is more important than qualifications; outcomes are more important than process; treat every employee differently; and throw out the career ladder.
I highly recommend this book. It has substantially changed my management style.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proof Positive that Managers matter!, June 23, 2000
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This review is from: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (Hardcover)
I found this an immensely readable book, despite the fact its a "business book". Easy to skim, every chapter seemed bursting with information and ideas I can use. Most valuable for me: The 12 most important questions to ask to measure the strength of a workplace, linked to four business outcomes: productivity, profitability, employee retention and customer satisfaction. This book is about measuring Human Capital. AND it provides the numerical, statistical proof that people work for a company, but they LEAVE their manager. People don't change, but great leaders learn to use what's there. Four core activities of Leader Catalyst: Select a person, set expectations, motivate the person, and develop the person. Great information on Performance Management, Hiring, Motivating and Developing. Template quality stuff. I give it an A+, great book. Pay attention, CEOs: Even if you don't have every senior manager read it, this book has tons of material you can mine for discussion and learning throughout the organization. And make sure your Chief People Officer and CFO read this.
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104 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Choose Best Practices Over Academic Theory, April 12, 2000
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (Hardcover)
Management is one of those areas where academic theory and best practices on site often clash. The problem is that there are usually 99 theories (often provided by professors with limited experience) for every good study of outstanding practices by great business people. This book exhibits one of my favorite principles: Build around the strengths of people to get the right results. The results described in this book fit what I have observed works well in over 30 years as a management consultant. That is the reason why I often encourage new managers to get more experience by coaching children's sports teams. In that environment, you soon learn that building around the talent is a critical first step in making progress. Building an imaginary perfect team doesn't work, because you cannot find these perfect people to play the roles. On the other hand, a weakness of this book is that there are many other best practices that this book does not explore. For example, even the best talent will perform better if presented with timely and relevant information, knowledge, and focus. A book like The Balanced Scorecard gives you lots of insight into how to do that. Add lots of low-cost capital and an exciting purpose (see The New New Thing), and you will do even better. A potential misunderstanding of this book is that people cannot change or improve: That is simply not true, nor is it what this book means to argue. Rather the outstanding manager or leader must learn to combine many types of best practices to get the right result. For example, if you combine the lessons of this book with the lessons of Topgrading (the best practices for recruiting the right people for what your organization needs), you will get better results than if you used just one or the other book's lessons. Combine several best practices that are often not combined and you can exceed anyone's performance, anywhere. That's the real lesson I hope you draw from this excellent book and other outstanding ones like it that build on careful measurement of how to get the best results. Management needs to become more like medicine where clinical tests run by practicing doctors provide most of the insight for improvement, rather a philosophical debating society run by hypothetical thinkers. Other good companion books include The Fifth Discipline, The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, The Dance of Change, The Living Company, and Moments of Truth.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new perspective, March 13, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (Hardcover)
What appealed to me about this book is that it offers a new perspective to succeed in a new world. Today, we have to be able to bend, stretch and flex to reach our goals.
First Break All The Rules gave me a new perspective on management and I am already reaping rewards by implementing new strategy.
Excellent book.
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First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
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