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Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers Paperback – December 18, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

In "Growing Great Employees," ÝErika?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)

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")

"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)

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)

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)

In "Growing Great Employees," [Erikas] offered a comprehensive guide to being a fun, smart and effective managerthe kind of manager that any company would love to have. (Leo Kiely, president and CEO, Molson Coors Brewing Company)

"Growing Great Employees"creates the sense that youve got somebody with you every step of the way, somebody who knows what youre up against and can help you be the kind of manager and leader you want to be. (Doug Herzog, president, Entertainment Group MTVN)

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)

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")

"Growing Great Employees" is like having an expert at your side, one whose clear-headed lessons provide a nutrient-rich road map for perennially winning at business.
Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group, author of "Setting the Table"
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 in which people are so fulfilled and so productive that they achieve superior results.
James A. Autry, author of "The Servant Leader"

a"Growing Great Employees" is like having an expert at your side, one whose clear-headed lessons provide a nutrient-rich road map for perennially winning at business.a
aDanny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group, author of "Setting the Table"
aThis 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 in which people are so fulfilled and so productive that they achieve superior results.a
aJames A. Autry, author of "The Servant Leader"

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

?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 in which people are so fulfilled and so productive that they achieve superior results.?
?James A. Autry, author of "The Servant Leader"

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841909
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841906
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a manager of a sales team and have read scores of books on leadership, management, and communication over the past year. This book was among the very best. I am on my second reading, and am certain I will read it a third, and quite possibly even a fourth, time. Anderson does a great job of using a theoretical framework in a way that is very relatable, ie the metaphor of creating a thriving garden. It fits the process of selecting and developing employees very well. She also goes further by getting into the practical details of how to coach employees, how to set up a successful first day, how to make performance agreements, and the like. Anderson successfully combines these elements, the theoretical and practical, to create a book that is clear in it's overall message and includes lots of details on how to actually apply the concepts. Finally, it is a relaxing, entertaining read to boot. If I could recommend only three books on the topic, this would surely make the list.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is some OK advice in this book, but nothing groundbreaking or even very helpful for anything other than a first time people manager. I bought this book hoping to be presented with some fresh, unique insights on managing, motivating people, or getting things done. I got none of that. Instead I got a book chock full of anecdotal evidence, personal experience from the writer, and useless gardening metaphors (when she mentioned milking the gardening metaphors in the intro, she really, really meant it).

At least 1/3 the book could be completely removed with no impact on the quality of the content, as this book has a tremendous amount of feel-good fluff that offers little practical advice. Most of it comes in the aforementioned gardening metaphors, which occur far too often and last much too long. The author is really verbose. This can be a good thing when trying to explain complicated information. However the concepts the author presents are very basic and could be explained more poignantly in 1/2 the words.

The length was challenging, but there were a few portions that were just plain bad. Particularly the section on interviewing and interview techniques. Her "special!" scenario based interviewing is really just traditional interviewing with some lipstick on it, and has been proven to be less effective than a 50/50 coin flip. For real useful interviewing tips, read up on Behavioral interviewing, which has a much higher chance of actually helping you select a candidate that fits the needs of the job. The other pseudo scientific parts about learning theory, motivational drives, belief acquisition, and other portions of the mental models she brings up are bad as well. I'm sorry, are you a cognitive or developmental psychologist? No?
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