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12: The Elements of Great Managing Hardcover – November 1, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"For a book essentially about empathy, '12: The Elements of Great Managing' is a little full of itself. It turns out that the Gallup Organization considers '12' the follow-up to 'First, Break All the Rules.' Why? Because both books rely on polling information gleaned from the company's database and because the new book's numerical title refers to the dozen traits shared by exceptional managers, as defined by 'First, Break All the Rules.' This time out, Gallup employees Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter are credited as the authors, though it's clear from the start who is really in charge: Messrs. Wagner and Harter's bosses."
- The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2007

About the Author

Rodd Wagner is the New York Times bestselling author of the book "Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They're Real People." He is one of the foremost authorities on employee engagement and collaboration. Wagner's books, speeches, and thought leadership focus on how human nature affects business strategy. He currently serves as vice president of employee engagement strategy at BI Worldwide.

Wagner is a confidential advisor to senior executives on the best ways to increase their personal effectiveness and their organizations' performance. His work has taken him around the world, to the executive suites of major corporations in nearly every industry, to the Pentagon, and to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

Wagner is lead author of the books "12: The Elements of Great Managing" and "Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life." His books have been published in 10 languages and his work featured in The Wall Street Journal, ABC News Now, BusinessWeek.com, CNBC.com, and the National Post of Canada, and parodied in Dilbert.

Wagner holds an M.B.A. with honors from the University of Utah Graduate School of Business. He was formerly a principal of Gallup, the research director of the Portland Press Herald and WGME-TV in Maine, a reporter and news editor for The Salt Lake Tribune, and a radio talk show host. When not writing or consulting, he enjoys fly-fishing, snowboarding, and coaching youth lacrosse.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 237 pages
  • Publisher: Gallup Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159562998X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595629982
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The 12 elements represent the aspects of work that are most powerful in explaining workers' productive motivations on the job. They include job clarity, materials and equipment, recognition and praise... learning and growth opportunities.

These are my reasons for rating this book 5 stars:

1. The insights are backed by empirical evidence,

2. Although the approach is scientific, the book is easy to understand,

3. It incorporates international perspectives.

The authors illustrate the 12 Elements with examples from the US, Brazil, Germany, India and other countries. The insights are practical and backed by empirical evidence gathered from 10 million employee and manager interviews from 114 countries. In this book employee engagement has been linked to business performance. The authors have compared the top-quartile and bottom-quartile business units for the Elements, and have measured the overall difference between engaged and actively disengaged employees. Throughout the book you will read results that link these differences to a variety of business metrics - productivity, profitability, absenteeism, turnover, shrink (the retailers' euphemism for theft), accidents, customer ratings, etc. I enjoyed the way in which the findings were presented. Each chapter starts with a situation where a company has problems related to an Element. The authors then present their research and findings. After that a "great" manager implements changes and saves the day.

This book is exceptionally well researched.
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Format: Hardcover
If you haven't read First, Break All the Rules, I have good news for you: Just read this book instead. 12: The Elements of Great Managing is a better book.

If you have read First, Break All the Rules, chances are it was a long time ago. You are probably ready for a refresher if you read that book back in 1999 or 2000 as I did.

As before, the Gallup people have asked that reviewers not list the 12 elements. I think they are overly sensitive, but I'll honor their request.

Let me characterize the 12 elements instead: Each point relates to either a necessity for being able to do your job well, having a sense that people care that you come to work, feeling engaged by your work, and seeing a future in what you are doing. Employees who feel engaged in these dimensions usually stay longer, are less likely to be out sick, and perform at higher levels of productivity. After you see the list, you'll accept those conclusions, I'm sure.

Since the first book came out, Gallup has done a lot more interviews. One of the benefits of all hose millions of additional interviews is to provide extra information about how and why each element is important. I was pleased to see that the authors also draw on psychological and physiological research to help explain their findings.

But the best parts, for me, were the 12 case studies that were like mini-fables of the sort that Ken Blanchard likes to write . . . except these cases involve real people. The leaders make mistakes as well as do things right, and you get a sense of how hard it is to improve performance in an important employee dimension when your organization has been doing it badly for some time.
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Format: Hardcover
Overall this is a great book. It's packed with good information, backed with solid research, great statistics, real examples and well written. Normally I'd give it a 5 star rating. When compared against other books in its genre, it's a great book and deserves your attention.

However, I found much of this book a rehash of the material in "First, Break All the Rules". The ideas are important enough that I went ahead and forced my way through the book. However I was definitely disappointed that the "Long-Awaited Follow-Up" as the cover advertises didn't really contain anything dramatically new that was not already covered in "First, Break All the Rules".
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Format: Hardcover
This is a follow on to "First Break All the Rules" and provides you with a list of the twelve elements that great managers use. These were distilled from the ten million workplace interviews Gallup has done over a long period of time, and I think they make sense. Really, they are about supporting your workers, respecting them, treating them as people rather than cogs in a machine, and managing them with a view to giving to them rather than exploiting them and taking from them. If you or your company are all about getting all you can out of your workers and letting them take until they leave, this book will tell you that you are on exactly the wrong course. So, if you want to hear about a better way, read this book. If you are happy in your current exploitive approach, don't bother with this book (although you will be cheating yourself).

The 12 elements are:
1) Ensuring your employees know what is expected not only in the tasks of their job, but in all of its ramifications and under a range of circumstances.
2) Provide your employees with the actual tools and resources they need to perform their job excellently. Don't make them scrounge, hoard, or steal to get their job done.
3) Do your best to let the employee use their best talents in their work. Fit the job to what they do best rather than making them fit themselves to get a job done.
4) Provide compliments, recognition, and public pats on the back weekly.
5) Foster an environment where people feel cared about as a person by other people.
6) Be sure employees understand a career path and are developing new skills.
7) Listen to employee opinions and implement the really good ones.
8) Show them how their work directly connects to the mission of the firm.
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