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140 of 143 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2000
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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2000
.... Great book. It provides some quantification what many feel (or want to be) true.
It usefully separates, and gives needed recognition of the separate and necessary skills of Management (devalued in most books) versus Leadership (which despite being done to death in academic literature is still sadly lacking)
The problem I have is in applying the learning's: separating (native) talent from (learnable) skills.
The book seems to suggest that by the mid teens your talents are fixed...Training can add 10% to them (maybe?)
Perhaps I reject this determinist view for emotional reasons - I find it unacceptable to believe that people cannot significantly change themselves. I believe they can ...if they have both the will AND are given encouragement.
In my experience of managing people, I find the biggest thing holding people back is not just spotting & defining their talents, but rather getting people to BELIEVE in their own talents. (Maybe British University graduates are naturally less self confident than American MBA's? )
Most managers I have met don't help in this situation - they tend to look for and spot error / mistakes rather than things well done and to build on.
So my advice to anyone managing a bright, but maybe insecure, 20 something is not to assume that their life was written for them at 15, but to take the time to help them explore and discover themselves ... and help you work out how you can help them.
This , as the book indicates, takes time and discussion, but it is worth the effort for any manager who cares for the development of their people.
If "talent" is the ultimate driver, really take the time to understand it, before your employee (& or you) do less than full justice to what they have.
There are tools for this, but they are most often used to help employers rather than candidates. Companies that really want to make the most of their people may wish to pay for their employees to receive a (confidential if they desire) Myers Brigg or Hermann whole Brain assessments.
Universities should offer it to Year 2 students before they embark on, the often painful task of, deciding what it is they really want to do in their working life.
If they are anything like my kids, who have just graduated, they will be a bit uncertain and confused. Finding the "right job", as it was for me, more about pot luck than anything else.
From what I have said the authors may be able to put my talent set into their boxes - but the boxes they will ascribe me to me are not the place they would have put me at age 22 (I am now 49)
Maybe I have always been the same, but the diagnosis made of me by my first employer was very different. Thank goodness I followed my own instinct rather than the advice of this global multi- national who - after a battery of psychological and IQ tests suggested a role in Accountancy. (I built a successful career in Marketing & Advertising)
These comments are not so much a critique as a request for further clarification of "talent". Help me and other managers distinguish, and measure, talents & skills. (Maybe not a job for Gallop.)
If all managers focused the first 6 questions proposed by Gallop in a diligent way this would already be a major step forward for most businesses.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2001
This book has its flaws: it's better at debunking current management theory than suggesting new theories, and I found some sections very repetitious. On the other hand, I think everyone in the business world -- staff as well as management -- should read it.

I've been a working stiff for over 30 years. For many years, at every performance review, I was told that, while I was doing a superb job in my present position, in order to get ahead in the company I'd have to develop management skills. (The unspoken assumption was that if I *didn't* try to develop them, I had no genuine desire for advancement and deserved to be "stuck" at a low-level position and salary for the rest of my career.) So I'd gamely try to develop management skills and fail miserably. The fact is that I have no interest in management, don't enjoy it, and haven't the temperament for it, but I was led to believe that my lack of advancement was "my fault" for "failing" to develop the required skills. I finally became an independent contractor so that I could get paid for doing what I do best and not have to worry about climbing the managerial ladder.

This book was very liberating for me. Its fundamental message is that a great manager accepts each person as an INDIVIDUAL: rather than trying to change the person's inborn character traits and habitual behavior patterns, the manager gives each person the opportunity to reach maximum potential by doing what he/she does best. The authors also point out that most employee "behavior problems" are actually managerial problems: there's a mismatch between the employee and the job, employees feel that their good work is unappreciated or that their job doesn't give them the opportunity to use their talents, and they're constantly being urged to focus on and "overcome" their weaknesses rather than maximize their strengths.

The book doesn't give much detail on how to hire talented people or choose the right person for the job, but I don't think that's the point. Its overall message -- that conventional management wisdom is flat-out WRONG -- is one that needs to be attended to, and they've presented impressive statistical evidence to bolster it. (As a footnote, I eventually became an employee again for practical reasons, but was lucky enough to land at a non-hierarchical, high-tech company that values talent -- and that's made all the difference in the world in my job satisfaction.)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2000
Boy, Marcus and Curt are hard working boys. Not only did they take the time to interview 80,000 managers, but they also compiled figures on customer satisfaction, profit, productivity and staff retention. Then they asked, what are the best business units, and the best managers, doing differently? This book gives the answers.
It's one thing to be able to manage tasks - but that's not the role of a manager. Any administrator or support person can manage tasks. Great managers know that when you manage people, the tasks get taken care of. However, the gift of managing people is, unfortunately, a rare commodity. This book gives clear, concrete steps on how to manage people, and in the process, become a Great Manager of a Great Team. I believe that along with will, tenacity and the right tools, this book is an excellent start to anyone wishing to become a Great Manager.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2001
There is a race for talent in today's job market. Organizations are realizing more and more that their competitive advantage lies within those individuals interfacing with customers and other employees. A businesses' greatest asset is indeed the individuals of the organization. We, in training and development, have known this for a long time. Now, there is bottom line business language that helps others acknowledge and quantify the human asset.
In my consulting practice I see more and more emphasis and investment in the developing and cultivation or leadership. In order for organizations to capitalize on their human assets, they must invest in the leadership teams who are managing talent. Recently facilitating a project for Innovative Training Strategies I was introduced to this book First, Break All the Rules. This book is rich with analogies, case studies, and practical information for any one who has more than one employee. Buckingham and Coffman present a business case for leadership development that is based on a Gallup survey of over a million employees and 80,000 managers from a vast range of companies and industries. I feel so strongly about this book for you as a business leader and in your organizations' success that I recommend it be a required reading for you and members of your leadership team. That said, my intent here is to share just a couple of the many learnings the book has to offer in order to peak your curiosity and hopefully intrigue you into making the time investment to experience this resource first hand.
Today's companies are having a team of people look at benefit packaging and creating a company profile that is attractive to prospective employees-especially talented employees. One of the things that Buckingham and Coffman warn about is that many companies do things that are effective for all employees. From their research they were able to extract information that was especially true for talented employees. They determined "talented" employees as those who seemed to be the most productive in terms of productivity measures and customer feedback. (There is an intense appendix for those who require supporting facts and data.) What they found was this : talented employees need great managers. "The talented employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits, and its world-class training programs, but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor."
So, while your company is spending a lot of resources on employee retention and recruitment, for a return on investment your company would be wise to concurrently develop the leadership team to be talent savvy.
Employee Satisfaction is now on everyone's radar. Organizations want satisfied employees because satisfied employees = satisfied customers. Now that that is understood, how does an organization gage employee satisfaction? There is much offered by Buckingham and Coffman to support this critical question. Through their research they have been able to extract the 12 most effective questions to gear how satisfied your talent pool is:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel like my work is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?
12. At work, have I had opportunities to learn and grow.
At first glance, I was surprised the first time I saw this list. Yet, when I thought about what is meaningful to myself as an employee, I nodded my head in agreement. Buckingham and Coffman explain what they learned from the process of gathering data from employees and how they determined these questions as being most effective for evaluating talent satisfaction.
So, First get the book and take advantage of the research and learning provided by Buckingham and Coffman in First Break All the Rules. If time is an issue, the book is also available on audio cassette. Enjoy making positive impact on your employees and co-workers.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Learning organizations, and companies shifting in that direction, would do well to have decision makers read this book. Most CEOs and managers will have plenty to think about or to review with others after reading this book. Buckingham and Coffman offer us a useful reference tool based on 25 years of Gallop Organization data. Interviews with over 80,000 managers were analyzed, and the authors present their findings to the public quite clearly and succinctly. They offer us 12 Key Questions for use in hiring processes, CIP, and for overall measurement of the healthiness of the work place. These 12 Key Questions are precisely worded, rationale for the precise question phrasing is provided, and many examples for use and implementation are provided.
Buckingham and Coffman also present a strong case for creating sustained profits through developing an engaged workforce. They clarify the role of manager and the significance of that role. ** If you are about to create a `lean & mean' organization by eliminating manager positions, I encourage you to read this book before finalizing decisions. **If you have already run that course and find that conventional wisdom was not THE answer, you may find this book offers fresh insight. Several of our corporate coaching clients indicate that this book's quantitative and qualitative data adds significant validity to their reports and enhances the book's usefulness in corporate circles.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2005
This is definitely one the best books that not only teaches the essence of management and leadership but also enables us to distinguish between the two. Also the book gives wonderful insights on the human nature - talents,skills and knowledge - the fundamental building blocks. Unlike many other books on the similar topics, this book is highly focused and practical.

Most of all it challenges the conventional wisdom like "all men are equal" or "you can achieve anything if you try hard enough". It instead provides the facts "as-is" rather than what we want to believe and also teaches how to make best use of them.

The only part that I slightly disagree with, is author's insistence on the fact that talents are "hard-wired" in brain and are not subject to change. Author further uses this fact as a reason why every individual is different. Being a student of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, I have studied the artificial neural networks, which closely resemble the human brain. Armed with that knowledge I can confidently say that synapses (which build our brain) can be formed by experience also and hence talent can be "induced". But the catch here is that every individual is resistant to change, therefore it is still a waste of time and energy to do so. But although you cannot change other person, you can change YOU and acquire new talents.

So what about are individuality?

Well, there are million and millions of cells in our brain so there are almost unimaginable number of ways to connect them and form synapses. Simple mathematics will tell you that this means that there is almost zero probability that any two individuals are same and possess similar talents.

So this means everything that is written in this books still holds true.

YOU cannot change others, but You can change YOU. That is if you are willing to do so.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This book contains a lot of information on the studies and polls the authors took of the greatest managers in the world. A lot of it is very tedious reading, however there is a HUGE pay off.My key learning from this book was: ALL great managers live outside the "BOX" of coporate America. They are not trapped by the "rules", they see the rules as only guidelines to achieve whatever the real purpose is of their business. They focus on the end result and not on doing things for the sake of doing them.I have found this book to be true in real life in watching promotions over the past 15 years in my own company. It could have been written better in a better format, but if you love information you will love this book. It's style is a lot like the book "The millionaire next door".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2004
but my manager recommended this book to me and I loved it! I have been working in retail management for over 5 years, and it was so refreshing to find a management book that I could actually relate to, and I could understand. So many business books detail plans to drive sales, or improve numbers, and this one helps to focus in on keeping employees and raising your potential. I personally feel that this book could apply to all industries and all forms of management, and it is a definite read if you want a different perspective on learning how to be a better manager, and how to run a better business.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2001
First Break all the rules addresses leadership from a common sense perspective. The twelve questions that reflect on your ability to effect productivity at the most intimate level of any process (the individual team member), are the common thread for discussion throughout this book.
With level of productivity as the measuring stick, leaders are encouraged to ask themselves if among other things, they provide direction, praise, materials, support, guidance, and opportunity for growth.
Buckningham and Coffman assert that good leaders don't try to make a silk purse from a sows ear. They suggest that you hire a sows ear where you need one and find silk to make the purse that you need. They contend that you can't change human nature, so why try. Trying to fill a deficit is more work than working with the positive aspects of your organization.
The authors also assert that good managers focus outwardly for change, and ask "why not." They focus on the strengths and manage around weaknesses. Good leaders know what types of talents that are needed at various levels of an organization; recruit to fill these positions, and develop those that you recruit.
The most useful part of this book is based on the lessons that mom taught you. Be nice. Treat people as individuals. Be flexible. Assert authority when necessary but more often than not, take a personal interest in those who are in control of how well your organization will measure up.
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