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Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More Hardcover – Illustrated, January 30, 2018
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“The typical book about management or careers requires a heavy dose of faith because you don't know where the recommendations come from. Morten Hansen brings beautiful data from a massive research project that reveals how stars at work, in dozens of industries, actually do their work. The data and Hansen's analysis will surprise you, change you, and make you better at work... no leaps of faith required.”—Chip Heath, Professor Stanford Graduate School of Business, and author of three New York Times bestsellers, including Switch
"In this groundbreaking book, Morten Hansen delivers on the genius of “and:” rigorous and relevant, research-driven and well-written, empirical and empowering, timeless and practical, full of big concepts and useful tips. Hansen's work is truly distinctive in the genre of professional effectiveness, and a tremendous contribution. This is a book I will read more than once, and reference forever."—Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, co-author of Built to Last and Great by Choice
“Some managers and employees are star performers. We’ve always wanted to know why, and now Morten Hansen tells us. It’s not because they work longer or harder than everyone else. It’s because they adopt a ‘growth mindset’ and find ways to work smarter. This magnificent study of over 5,000 employees reveals exactly what these stars do and is a landmark contribution to understanding the roots of professional success.”—Carol Dweck, author of Mindset
"A refreshingly data-based, clearheaded guide…”—Publishers Weekly
"Adds significantly to our understanding of job performance–and satisfaction–in an increasingly competitive workplace....[Hansen's] findings, bolstered as they are by a massive and statistically rigorous study that included different kinds of for-profit companies, should command the attention of those of us who want to reengineer our work lives, reduce burnout, improve performance and job satisfaction."—Psychology Today
"Finally, a method and evidence to uncover what it takes to multiply our effectiveness at work. Morten Hansen’s pathbreaking new book is a rare, research-driven "seven habits" for the 21th century. A must read for anyone working to improve themselves or helping others to do so.”—Herminia Ibarra, Professor, London Business School and author of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader
"We thought we were great at work until we read this book. It has led us to re-think how we work and organize our lives. It is that powerful. Now, we are beginning to understand—and sometimes practice—what smart-work actually means."—Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove, founders, Thinkers50 (www.thinkers50.com)
“Great at Work is intended to inspire people to be better workers. Written by a management professor at the University of California, Berkeley, this book differs from other popular management volumes in that it is based on a significant research project that identified the key factors that make better workers….As a research-based study on becoming a better worker, this volume will help readers improve their own work performance.”—Booklist
About the Author
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster; Illustrated edition (January 30, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1476765626
- ISBN-13 : 978-1476765624
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #79,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Though I do not doubt the research, this book supports the notion that contrived conflict and emotional manipulation should be practiced and accepted to achieve goals. While these tactics can be successful to "complete an initiative", "get the next job" or "move up the ladder", in the long run my experience indicates these tactics alienate and distract competent and well intentioned staff from superior long term performance. Organizations that reward these tactics lead to internal cultures that lack transparency and reward manipulation. As the manipulators rise to positions of influence their behaviors are repeated and re-enforced by ascending leaders that are mirroring their managers path to the top. To me this is not in the best interest of the organization's long term interests.
The author seems to equate short and mid term financial performance with success. Even in a commercial organization, success to me is the value the organization and it's products brings to the customers and markets it serves. Financial success is important for the continued health of the organization, call me naive but for me, long term financial viability often competes with short term market success.
I liked the book because it challenged my vision for the best way to succeed at work in subtle ways.
The notion that all jobs provide the option to enact some of the recommendations will result in poor performance in jobs that require one to focus on many things at once. I'd like to see the author expand on ways for people whose job responsibilities are defined in a manner that does not allow one to "focus" on the important things. As an operations executive that serves many stakeholders, the individual tactics for focusing on high value activities resonated as a slogan but fell short in terms of providing examples relevant to my role in my organization in my industry.
There were many things that I agreed with and a few I disliked and would not encourage in my organization even if the presented data has been interpreted correctly.
I felt there was a subtle bias in the authors perspective based on his history as a management consultant and author. Extrapolating assumptions about top performers without significant (or at least I missed it) adjustments to roles is a generalization that could unintentionally have well meaning people perform in a manner that is inconsistent with their organizations culture - leading to less effective performance.
I shared with my extended management team the fact that I was reading this book. I stopped short of recommending it, because I was concerned that it would be disruptive if they adopted some behaviors that were advocated for and supported with data, but were in conflict with my values.
Second to final, it seems a bit like, a management consultant, product developers myopic perspective on the work of others.
Finally, I must admit this book challenged me in a way few others about effective work habits have. I will continue to ruminate on this book and the authors points. To be clear, I found this book thought provoking and agree with many, perhaps most (90% I would guess) of the observations. It distressed me not because it was inaccurate, but out of fear that it will influence people to adopt the 10% I find objectionable and inaccurate based on my career.
Morten, I'd enjoy discussing this with you at some point, just to see if I misunderstood the parts that I interpreted as inducing artificial levels of stress to promote change. To me, the stress induced should be metered by the value of the opportunity to the organization not to the unit or individual's definition of success.
Most of all I want to thank you, as a 50+ year old executive - I enjoy a read that challenges my understanding of good management and personal work styles. You sure have made me think!
Redesigning your workflow can also help you be more productive. The example of flipped learning in schools was intriguing. Having students learn their lessons at home by watching videos and then doing the work in class where teachers could help. Makes me wonder how many schools actually practice this method and how successful are they with it.
If you are looking to have that work/life balance, that's the last topic they cover. Too often have I thought about work while at home rather than spending it with my family. We all need that balance regardless if you have kids or significant other or just yourself.
Where they distinguish themselves is that Great at Work provides better resources for someone managing a team. If you manage a team start with Great at Work and then look at High Performance Habits.
Morten had a sophisticated literature review; he not only talked about his own books in the field, but also the works of other authors. Within the book, he referenced The War for Talent, On the Mend, Drive, Peak, Contagious, Power, and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to name a few. Even Oprah Winfrey made the cut, when Morten talked about her commencement address to Stanford’s graduating class of 2008.
In what could have been a dry, instructional, lecture style novel, Morten Hansen has created a composition of tips to help employees work smarter (not harder) and achieve more. By enhancing the reading with scenarios in multiple work settings, he has allowed any individual the ability to relate to these different situations and develop ways to use the strategies in their own daily work lives.
Morten presented strategies for measuring and maximizing value, the art of deliberate practice, and matching purpose and passion. Morten mentioned that more activities does not equal more value and provided an equation for measuring value. This equation states that the value of a person’s work equals the benefits to others multiplied by the quality of the work multiplied by the efficiency. Another idea he presented was deliberate practice which involves doing a new skill, getting feedback, and making the necessary changes based on the feedback provided. Morten challenged the accepted idea to “follow your passion”. Morten tested the idea and concluded that one had to match his or her passion with purpose to be truly effective at work.
While a majority of the tips given in this book are easily applicable, one that is not is refusing your boss. Although, Morten does mention the difficulty of this task and how it should be exercised with caution, there are many factors to consider before applying this tip. Firstly, the employee must fully understand the goals of the team and his or her role. If the employee does not have this understanding, he or she will not be able to give proper reasoning for refusing his or her manager. Secondly, he or she must understand the culture of the company that he or she is working for. If the culture in the company encourages employee involvement with changing processes, then refusing to take on a new project would not be frowned upon. Conversely, if the culture of the company does not encourage employee involvement then the refusal might not be accepted.
Morten defies convention by providing a new perspective profound beliefs from the learnings within the chapter. A person doesn’t have to change his or her life by any modern standard, but this appreciably readable book is not in the business of following the status quo. Not only does this book elucidate the keys for top work performance, it provides a new perspective which could change one’s approach in all fields of life and maintain a positive work life balance.
Top reviews from other countries
On a podcast, Greg mentioned this book recently and especially emphasized the "do less, then obsess" principle from 'Great at Work' which I also love.
In short, this book has been an equal, to me, in terms of potential for self-improvement. The way I see it, perhaps selfishly, is that I need to 'fix' myself before I can really improve all of my work practises. This books treatment - through a scientific and rigorous manner - of self-improvement is a refreshingly new take on many old paradigms that are misdirected or simply not true.
As a consultant myself, I'm certain that following these principles will get me that much farther.
To close, one of my favourite chapters deals with passion. I've generally lacked passion for anything for years and it has been a major stumbling block for me in my career. I was skeptical of this chapter, but as I progressed through everything there really holds true for me. Including the fact that I don't need to be passionate about a topic or a particular field in order to be passionate about what I do. For example I can be passionate about making other's lives easier and that's something you can do in any job.
I'd highly recommend this book to any working professional, but at the same time I want to keep it a secret otherwise I feel like the bar might go up and I'll be that much farther behind!
The four mastering your own work practices of this book are great and include references to 'deliberate practice' yet not 'deep work' or other works of substance in this genre.
The three mastering working with others I found confusing as descriptors and I had to work hard to get to the substance.
About 45% of this book is research appendix, bibliography etc etc.
This book for me is too perscriptive, I prefer more how I could apply proven principles e.g deliberate practice, radical candor, essentialism, the last two of which are not referenced in the book