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Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers Hardcover – December 28, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The management lessons Andersen distills from her career as a consultant to corporations like MTV and Bank of America are not innovative—most executives have heard about the importance of listening and establishing clear lines of communication. The centerpiece of her technique is a form of personality typing developed in the 1960s to measure workers based on their assertiveness, responsiveness and versatility. Evaluating employees through these "social styles" templates, Andersen promises, will help determine "how they like and need to be managed." Writing in a pleasant, conversational tone, the author begins each chapter with an imagined scene in a garden, establishing an overriding metaphor for her techniques for everything from creating job descriptions to firing underperforming employees. Andersen makes extensive use of worksheets and what-if scenarios to elaborate her points, and summarizes the "big ideas" in each chapter. For rookies, it's a serviceable introduction to the field. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

A most readable, insightful, and thorough treatment, filled with common sense and practical examples. A must read for all managers interested in growing their people. -- W. Timothy Gallwey, author of The Inner Game of Tennis and The Inner Game of Work

Believe me when I say you can take four full semesters of 'management' in business school, or you can simply read, keep, and refer to Growing Great Employees. This book transcends all the theory, fads du jour, and management babble on the current scene and offers simple, straightforward, and, most important, effective steps for creating a community of work in which people are so fulfilled and so productive that they achieve superior results. -- James A. Autry, author of The Servant Leader

For the past twenty-five years, Erika Andersen has been working with companies to make sure that employees achieve their true potential. In Growing Great Employees, Erika is sharing that practical, smart, soup-to-nuts insight on how to be the best kind of manager with a broader public. -- Geraldine Laybourne, president and CEO, Oxygen Networks

Growing Great Employees is like having an expert at your side; one whose clear-headed lessons provide a nutrient-rich roadmap for perennially winning at business. -- Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group and author of Setting The Table

Growing Great Employees…creates the sense that you’ve got somebody with you every step of the way, somebody who knows what you’re up against and can help you be the kind of manager and leader you want to be. -- Doug Herzog, president, Entertainment Group MTVN

In Growing Great Employees, [Erika’s] offered a comprehensive guide to being a fun, smart and effective manager—the kind of manager that any company would love to have. -- Leo Kiely, president and CEO, Molson Coors Brewing Company

The consummate ‘how to’ manual for choosing and nurturing great employees. Erika's techniques are practical and highly effective and this is a powerful tool for creating a stable and innovative work environment. Read it and watch your staff blossom! -- Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, president and CEO, Women in Cable Telecommunications
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; 1 edition (December 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841518
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841517
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm the founding partner of Proteus International, a coaching, consulting and training firm that focuses uniquely on leader readiness (www.proteus-international.com). I coach and advise senior executives at a variety of companies - GE, TJX, NBC Universal, Union Square Hospitality Group, Conde Nast and Gannett, among others. I am also the author of Leading So People Will Follow (Jossey-Bass, 2012), Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change (St. Martin's Press, May 2009), and Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers (Portfolio, 2006). I blog at erikaandersen.com and at blogs.forbes.com/erikaandersen/

Customer Reviews

This book is great and is a book that all managers should read.
Amazon Customer
One of the things I like about the metaphor is that a gardener has to do a lot of work to prepare the ground to receive the seeds.
Craig Matteson
One of the few business books I've read that's not only useful, but a joy to read as well.
K. Kesslin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you manage people at work or in any organization (even if you are a parent), this book offers a very helpful metaphor in discussing the difficulties in managing people. The title's use of the word growing refers to the idea of a manager as a gardener. The idea is that you can't make people "grow" or even do what you want them to do just because you want them to do it. The author covers the whole cycle of employment (although for families we don't actually hire or fire).

One of the things I like about the metaphor is that a gardener has to do a lot of work to prepare the ground to receive the seeds. If you have ever painted a room, you know that most of the work is in preparing to paint. In the same way, a successful manager has to do a lot of things to set up success in his or her organization before the actual managing of people begins.

Erika Anderson offers five sound principles for the manager as gardener:

1) There is no such thing as a successful one-minute gardener
2) Prepare the soil by listening (I would add that this isn't letting others talk, but actually requires hearing and understanding not only what is being said, but why it is being said.)
3) Maintain the right mindset (that is, just as a gardener doesn't give up or blame the plants if the garden is not coming in the way she wants, the successful manager believes in her ability to coach and develop an employee's potential and help him to develop into what is desired.)
4) Don't be afraid to prune. (This is done to plants to focus growth of a certain kind and direction - employees need this, too. However, just as you can't cut a plant too harshly, you cannot "prune" employees in a way that causes estrangement and anger and actually hinders development.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Charles Decker on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I review books for major business magazines, so I see virtually everything published. As anyone who reads business books knows, there is very little 'new' out there. This book breaks the mold. The author has a wonderful personal style, so the ideas are quite accessible, and the garden metaphor never gets tired. I particularly enjoyed her emphasis on the importance of listening, as so many male managers are taught that THEY are supposed to have the solution to every problem when in fact outcomes are often decided in tandem or in teams. If you can check out the companion website to the book it can be eye-opening.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By P. Mitchell on February 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
You know what distinguishes this book from pretty much everything else in this category: It's actually helpful. So many of these management books are filled with the obvious or the only-applicable-for-the-salesforce. This has stuff I was using the day I after I read it. My favorites:

1. How to really listen (sounds simple, but we're not usually doing it well). (chapter 1)
2. How to avoid with personality clashes when personalities/style differ, both between employees and between employees and clients. (chapter 6)
3. How to delegate and free up time (that's HOW to do it, not just that we're supposed to do this; already know that, of course). And -- this is what I began seeing just the other day -- how this gets employees to step up. (chapter 8)

Amazon's business book editor recommend the book, too (Titles for a Terrific 2007). Anyway, the book is good if you get to/have to manage people. I even ended up googling the author and found this podcast -- [...]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Meredith Wagner & Pat Langer on August 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For nearly a decade, we have been the lucky beneficiaries of Erika Andersen's wisdom and counsel. Her communication style is clear and engaging, and we only wish we could type fast enough to memorialize all her wisdom. We consider having all her great insight in one book as not just a gift to us, but to anyone who wants to sharpen their own business skills and create an outstanding team.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Julianna Hynes on August 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Growing Great Employees is a helpful, engaging and powerful tool for managers to use in building building their staff and their departments. Erika's writing style pulled me in and kept me engaged in this concept of growing great employees. By the time I was finished reading the book, I felt empowered and prepared to better develop people and help them to develop themselves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Kesslin on August 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the few business books I've read that's not only useful, but a joy to read as well. Filled with practical information, it's clear that Andersen is a superb teacher. She not only shares information clearly, but includes many easy to use models, worksheets and assessments throughout the book. You don't just get to read about managing well, you are given ways to try thing out and practice new skills. This book would be great for new managers or for those more experienced looking to round out their people development skills.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Note: The review that follows is of the paperback edition with a new preface.

Erika Andersen makes brilliant use of a number of horticultural metaphors when explaining "how to turn ordinary people into extraordinary performers": gardeners (i.e. effective managers), fertile soil, (i.e. a pleasant and supportive workplace), nutrients (i.e. constructive criticism, encouragement, recognition), and seeds (i.e. high potential workers with sound character and strong self-motivation). All are essential...and interdependent. Andersen's organization of the material is also appropriate. First, she explains how to prepare the "soil," formulate a plan, and select the "plants" (Chapters 1-3); then how to plant "not too deep and not too shallow," how to develop a "gardener's mindset," and what a "mixed bouquet" consists of and why it is important (Chapters 4-7); then she provides directions for "staking and weeding," letting [extraordinary performance] spread, and how to convert "plants" into "gardeners" (Chapters 7-9); finally, Andersen explains how to measure progress ("How does your garden grow?"), discusses why some "plants don't make it," and in the final chapter provides what she characterizes as "The Master Calendar" (Chapters 10-12). Just as almost anyone can learn how to grow grass, plants, fruits, and vegetables, almost anyone can help "grow" the people for whom they are primarily responsible as well as those with whom they are directly associated. As Barbara Kellerman explains in Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders, it is also possible to help "grow" immediate supervisors and even CEOs or their equivalent.
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