Review – First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

First Break All Rules Summary

Some managers want hard data before they’ll believe in something. I can give all the advice in the world, but I’m still just one manager with one person’s opinion.

This book was written by two authors that combed through an astounding amount of data to empirically determine what makes a great manager.

They’ve used statistics to illuminate what great managers do differently from the accepted standards – and why they outperform their peers.

After extensive research, Buckingham and Coffman summarize the twelve key factors in retaining star employees. If employees can answer the below questions affirmatively, you probably have a strong and productive workplace:

Do I know what is expected of me at work?
Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
At work, do my opinions seem to count?
Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel like my work is important?
Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
Do I have a best friend at work?
In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?
At work, have I had the opportunities to learn and grow?

These are the key questions that have been culled from all of the analyses that will help to keep the star performers. Good pay and benefits are important, of course, but those things attract under-performers and dead weight too.

Among the revolutionary insights of great managers is this motto: "People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough." What they mean is, don’t try to make people into what they are not. Don’t try to “fix” them. Determine what they do best and look for ways to maximize that talent.

Buckingham and Coffman found that the greatest managers make a clear distinction between knowledge, skills, and talent, where talent is defined as natural recurring patterns of thought within a person. While knowledge and skills can be taught, the greatest managers know that talent cannot be taught.

A key of management success is finding the right kind of person for a given job… or finding a position where your team member can be successful.

Some people are strategic thinkers. Some people are mathematicians. Some people are analytical. Trying to fit a person into the wrong position will be disastrous and unproductive for the employee, the manager, and the company.

This book goes a long way towards examining what really makes great managers great. A wise student of management would include it in their collection. Heck, I’ve read it twice already!

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