Gallup presents the remarkable findings of its revolutionary study of more than 80,000 managers in First, Break All the Rules, revealing what the world’s greatest managers do differently. With vital performance and career lessons and ideas for how to apply them, it is a must-read for managers at every level.
In a world where efficiency and competency rule the workplace, where do personal strengths fit in?
It's a complex question, one that intrigued Cambridge-educated Marcus Buckingham so greatly, he set out to answer it by challenging years of social theory and utilizing his nearly two decades of research experience as a Sr. Researcher at Gallup Organization to break through the preconceptions about achievements and get to the core of what drives success.
The result of his persistence, and arguably the definitive answer to the strengths question can be found in Buckingham's four best-selling books First, Break All the Rules (coauthored with Curt Coffman, Simon & Schuster, 1999); Now, Discover Your Strengths (coauthored with Donald O. Clifton, The Free Press, 2001); The One Thing You Need to Know (The Free Press, 2005) and Go Put Your Strengths To Work (The Free Press, 2007). The author gives important insights to maximizing strengths, understanding the crucial differences between leadership and management, and fulfilling the quest for long-lasting personal success. In his most recent book, Buckingham offers ways to apply your strengths for maximum success at work.
What would happen if men and women spent more than 75% of each day on the job using their strongest skills and engaged in their favorite tasks, basically doing exactly what they wanted to do?
According to Marcus Buckingham (who spent years interviewing thousands of employees at every career stage and who is widely considered one of the world's leading authorities on employee productivity and the practices of leading and managing), companies that focus on cultivating employees' strengths rather than simply improving their weaknesses stand to dramatically increase efficiency while allowing for maximum personal growth and success.
If such a theory sounds revolutionary, that's because it is. Marcus Buckingham calls it the “strengths revolution.”
As he addresses more than 250,000 people around the globe each year, Buckingham touts this strengths revolution as the key to finding the most effective route to personal success and the missing link to the efficiency, competency, and success for which many companies constantly strive.
To kick-start the strengths revolution, Buckingham and Gallup developed the StrengthsFinder exam (StrengthsFinder.com), which identifies signature themes that help employees quantify their personal strengths in the workplace and at home. Since the StrengthsFinder debuted in 2001, more than 1 million people have discovered their strengths with this useful and important tool.
In his role as author, independent consultant and speaker, Marcus Buckingham has been the subject of in-depth profiles in The New York Times, Fortune, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal and is routinely lauded by such corporations as Toyota, Coca-Cola, Master Foods, Wells Fargo, Yahoo and Disney as an invaluable resource in informing, challenging, mentoring and inspiring people to find their strengths and obtain and sustain long-lasting personal success.
A wonderful resource for leaders, managers, and educators, Buckingham challenges conventional wisdom and shows the link between engaged employees and productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, and the rate of turnover. Buckingham graduated from Cambridge University in 1987 with a master's degree in Social and Political Science.
The best managers are those that build a work environment where the employees answer positively to these 12 Questions:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work? 2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right? 3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day? 4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work? 5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person? 6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development? 7. At work, do my opinions count? 8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important? 9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work? 10. Do I have a best friend at work? 11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress? 12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
The best managers reject conventional wisdom. The best managers treat every employee as an individual. The best managers never try to fix weaknesses; instead they focus on strengths and talent. The best managers know they are on stage everyday. They know their people are watching every move they make. Measuring employee satisfaction is vital information for your investors. People leave their immediate managers, not the companies they work for.
More wisdom in a nutshell:
- Know what can be taught, and what requires a natural talent. - Set the right outcomes, not steps. Standardize the end but not the means. As long as the means are within the company's legal boundaries and industry standards, let the employee use his own style to deliver the result or outcome you want. - Motivate by focusing on strengths, not weaknesses. - Casting is important, if an employee is not performing at excellence, maybe she is not cast in the right role. - Every role is noble, respect it enough to hire for talent to match. - A manager must excel in the art of the interview. See if the candidate's recurring patterns of behavior match the role he is to fulfill. Ask open-ended questions and let him talk. Listen for specifics. - Find ways to measure, count, and reward outcomes. - Spend time with your best people. Give constant feedback. If you can't spend an hour every quarter talking to an employee, then you shouldn't be a manager. - There are many ways of alleviating a problem or non-talent. Devise a support system, find a complementary partner for him, or an alternative role.
Yesterday, I had a conversation with my best friend. she told me that her new principal (she's a 5th grade teacher) enrolled her in a number of training sessions. I immediately asked, "Why would she do that? She doesn't even know you yet!" My friend was slightly shocked, I think, because we have been conditioned to believe, as employees, that investment in YOU means that someone cares or thinks you're pretty hot stuff. After reading the first third of FBATR, I feel as though managers do too much of this without actually considering the individual. How can a new manager accurately gauge the training needs of an employee she's never managed? My best friend went on to explain that she'd been in change of data for the entire elementary school last year and that she had a reputation for her skills. So, I can see how her principal, perhaps forced to decide sooner or later who would receive such training, enrolled my friend based on her reputation. FBATR makes me wonder, though, does my friend need this training? Is that where her proficiency lies or did she just get 'roped in' last year. Anyway, this book has me thinking about management in an all new way and I am very interested to see what else it has to offer.
Other than present the findings of the research studies by the Gallop organisation, I’m not sure what aim the authors had for “First break all the rules”. The title sounds like a “how to” book, yet the introduction does not suggest this.
Chapter one sets out the research results, Chapter two debates what the authors term “conventional wisdom”. The remaining chapters, based on the “4 keys” to successful management, do indeed become a “how to”.
Chapter one is excellent. The 12 questions developed from the research study with over 105,000 managers are practical and make good common sense. However, they are not new. If one looks at the work of writers such as Frederick Herzberg, these pointers have been around at least since the 1970s. In fact, they can be quite well mapped to Herzberg’s theory of motivation (motivators and satisfiers).
I had a real problem with chapter two. I’m not sure where the authors have been for the last 30 years and I’d also question whether they have ever been managers themselves. Their description of “conventional wisdom” (which they do quite correctly proceed to debunk) could not be further from reality.
The authoritative writers, management teachers, trainers and indeed managers that I know of would hardly describe any of the following as “conventional wisdom”: • Treat all people the same, do not differentiate • Anyone can be anything they want to be if they just try hard enough • The manager must “seize opportunity, using his smarts and impatience to exert his will over a fickle world.”
And there are more examples which are not worth repeating.
What Buckingham and Coffman suggest managers do in chapters, 3,4,5,6 & 7 which they call “breaking the rules” has been taught in all the enlightened management training organisations and by experienced management trainers for at least the last 30 years.
There is nothing new here, though if a manager wants a very good checklist of the things he or she should be doing, buy the book for chapter one.
This book had some sound advice as it focused on the four key principles all great managers know and practice: 1) select for talent, 2) define the right outcomes, 3) focus on strengths, and 4) encourage employees to find the right fit. It's worth a read, but I feel like I have to have a degree in psychology (or psychiatry for that matter) to be a great manager. Nonetheless, time will tell!
I had to read this for a work project. It was basic information. Pay attention to what your workers are good at and assign them appropriately, and treat them with respect. If that's "breaking all the rules," that really does explain a lot about the American work force.
Maybe I'm already a "great manager" or maybe they were just trying to make me think so, but it seems to me that all of the recommendations in this book are pretty obvious...all employees are different and require different inspiration, focus on your best performers, communicate often and clearly.
Definitely not groundbreaking or even informative from my perspective.
Gallup interviewed 8000 people. However, only about a dozen people were actually cited in the text. There really wasn't much that this book did for me. There was no "A-ha" moment. The author didn't even explain what these rules are that we are supposed to be breaking. Just disappointing.
I've just finished reading Marcus Buckingham's book First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently recently, and enjoyed it immensely.
I generally like books that go against conventional wisdom, and this book is quite different than the other management books I've read in the years.
For example, the "break all the rules" in the title were touched upon at the introduction section, and I quote directly from the book:
"The greatest managers in the world do not have much in common. They are of different sexes, races, and ages. They employ vastly different styles and focus on different goals. But despite their differences, these great managers do share one thing: Before they do anything else, they first break all the rules of conventional wisdom. They do not believe that a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They do not try to help a person overcome his weaknesses. They consistently disregard the Golden Rule. And, yes, they even play favorites."
Now we were all told as children that we get the best bang for the buck by improving our weak areas. However, the author argues that we are better off focusing on our strength through extensive surveys and in-depth interviews with the best managers.
In chapter 2, the author listed twelve questions he calls "measure sticks of workplace strength", and they are: "
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 doing 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 my job is important? Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work? Do I have a best friend at work? In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress? This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow? "
The other possible questions on pay, benefit and such are not significant differentiators in workplace strength so they are not included in the core 12. Out of the 12, the first six questions are what great managers focus on. These questions have a strong correlation to the business performance of the company, the unit, and the individual.
In Chapter 2, the author also lays out the "four keys" of great managers, and they are:"
When selecting someone, they select for talent … not simply experience, intelligence, or determination. When setting expectations, they define the right outcomes … not the right steps. When motivating someone, they focus on strengths … not on weaknesses. When developing someone, they help him find the right fit … not simply the next rung on the ladder. "
The book then went on to explain the four keys in more detail concluding with a final chapter on how to apply the four keys in business situations.
I found the book brings an interesting perspective to workplace productivity and people development. It causes me to rethink how I work, whether I'm leveraging my strength, and also how to work with others by focusing on their strengths as well.
I also found the author's definition of strength to be refreshing, and am planning to take the online strength-finder test to prepare for the next book in the series Now Discover Your Strength.
Zacznę od wad. W sumie książka ma jedną, ogromną i straszliwą wadę: tytuł. On po prostu nie przystoi do tak dobrej, dokładnej i wartościowej pozycji. Brzmi jak new-age self-help lotniskowa pozycja.
Tymczasem to jedna z najlepszych książek o zarządzaniu jakie czytałem, oparta na rygorystycznych badaniach o ogromnej skali, z których wyciągnięto konkretne i wdrażalne wnioski.
W środku jest tak dużo dobrego materiału, że słuchając bałem się, że przez roztargnienie czegoś zapomnę.
Książka stawia sporo niepoprawnych tematów. Autorzy (na bazie wspomnianego badania) pokazują, ja najlepsi zarządzający odrzucają ideę, że (1) każdy może się zmienić, (2) należy traktować wszystkich po równo, (3) trzeba skupić się na eliminowaniu słabości pracowników.
Zamiast tego jest pokazana alternatywa, która podskórnie zgadza się z moimi doświadczeniami (ad 1) ludzie się nie zmieniają, (ad 2) należy pracowników traktować zgodnie z ich charakterem, (ad 3) trzeba skupić się na talentach pracowników.
Później jest jeszcze lepiej: wreszcie ktoś mi wytłumaczył czym jest "talent" i czym się różni od umiejętności i wiedzy. Jest też także bardzo dobry sposób na określanie czy pracuje się w wartościowym miejscu zawodowo (Q12, odpowiednik Gallup StrenghtFindera ale do oceny firm a nie ludzi).
... ale to dopiero początek - liczba narzędzi tu zawarta do wykorzystania przez zawodowych managerów jest ogromna. Pozycja obowiązkowa dla każdego kto zarządza zespołem. Jestem zachwycony.
"First, break all rules" wraz z "The Effective Manager" tworzą bardzo dobry tandem i szybki kurs jak powinno się kierować ludźmi.
Ps. Najgorsze jest to, że po przeczytaniu zaczyna się zauważać, jak bardzo ludzie się niedopasowani do swoich stanowisk. Moje ulubione hasło z książki:
Don't try to put in what was left out, Try to draw out what was left in
If you were to only read one book this year in hopes of improving your management style or if you're an employee that wants to mind read yo boss, but only if your boss has management skill, then this would be the one book I'd recommend.
Each chapter is basically 4 short essays that are easy to comprehend, implement and are backed by research.
I learnt that top managers should spend most of their time with their best employees and quit wasting their time trying to help everyone get up to par. What!? I thought we were all special snow flakes. Nope.
Also, everyone has an innate talent and the key is to align that with your career (instead of trying to strengthen a weakness)...and what this book taught me was that your 'talent' could be that you hate waking up in the morning lol (I'm very talented at this) and a managers job is to align talent with career aspirations. If someone has early am tiredness talent then you wouldn't schedule their most important meetings first thing. Am I the only one that finds all of these management ideas exciting? 😁
Happiness at work: 1. Do I know what is expected of me at work? 2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right? 3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day? 4. In the past seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work? 5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person? 6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development? 7. At work, do my opinions seem to count? 8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel like my work is important? 9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work? 10. Do I have a best friend at work? 11. In the past six months, have I talked with someone about my progress? 12. At work, have I had opportunities to learn and grow?
I'm not a manager, but this book felt especially relevant to me since my company just did an employee survey based on the 12 questions Gallup formulated through this study. It was interesting to compare my thoughts on the survey without knowing anything about it, to learning all the mechanics and data of 'why' behind it all.
I've also been thinking about my next steps at my current company, and this provided some guidance on really taking time to figure out what I'm good, what I enjoy, and not just blindly taking the next step 'up'. The authors really pushed "excellence at every level" and I couldn't agree more. It's frustrating to see some of the more menial jobs at my company treated so flippantly. I don't care what you do, you can do it and do a great job at it. Extra effort at ALL levels should be recognized and rewarded.
The authors also did a really nice job explaining an alternate view of having to terminate employees. While it's never pleasant, great managers truly approach it in a different fashion, and that was utterly fascinating to me to see a new side of that. A point that was continually stressed througout is that people don't leave companies, they leave managers. Another oft-repeated sentiment was that of excellence and failure being surprising similar. Average is the anomaly. You can't simply infer excellence my taking the inverse of failure. The difference between the two lies in how inherent talents are executed, and often those talents are surprisingly similar.
I also really enjoyed that the advice given by exceptional managers seems to fly in the face of convention but are backed up my massive quantities of data. I.e. spend more time with your top people, not your employees that are struggling - things don't have to be fair. Speaking of the data, I also really enjoyed that seemingly subjective, qualitative data was somehow quantified and measured just like quantitative data. It really lent a lot of credence the authors' claims.
A great read - I highly recommend this to anyone, manager or not. I have a feeling I'll picking this one up again in the future.
I really enjoyed it's scientific approach, and it's hands on explanations and tips.
As a fairly junior manager and leader, the book has made me retrace my steps a bit, especially on what my priorities should be, and as part of that, how I evaluate myself. It's also lead me to put effort into reflecting how I'm coloured by what the author describes as 'conventional wisdom about management', which while not necessary is always wrong, is worth questioning. Such things are treating everyone equally, or spending more time with high-performers than with low-performers.
Cathy Allen A few years back, in a fit of misguided patriotism, I took a J.O.B. in a government agency with a mission to help people who would otherwise struggle to get by. Two weeks in, I realized I was reporting to a supervisor who knew nothing about being a supervisor. Worse, one of her colleagues decided to "help" by inserting himself into everything our unit did. I had two bosses, and I had no idea how to make either of them happy.
Then one day, I spotted this book on Boss #2's shelf. I'd already enjoyed others by Marcus Buckingham, and I knew that one way to connect with someone is to read something they recommend. So I asked to borrow the book. He agreed, but was clearly annoyed. He didn't like anything about me and he made sure I knew it.
What a belly laugh I had when I discovered that Buckingham had written a how-to manual for being a good manager! Treat people the way they want to be treated... define outcomes for your staff... focus on their strengths...match the people to the work... all the things neither of these two supervisors were doing. Of the 12 questions that predict employee satisfaction and performance, my peers and I could answer only one or two positively. LOL.
I read the book in a few days and returned it to Boss #2 right away. "Here's your book back. Thanks for letting me borrow it. Have you read it?"
"Of course I've read it!" he practically snapped. (God, Cathy, you are so stupid.) End of discussion.
So, here is the thing about books: they are excellent tools for learning. If someone wants to change and grow and gain a new skill, there is probably a darn good book about whatever they want to learn. But books are not magic bullets. They can't make people change or improve their skills. If they could, I might still be in that job. As it was, I lasted only a few months before happily returning to consulting, where I still use the book to help clients who want to learn how to be better supervisors.
I picked up this book because it was mentioned in some Forbes article I saw on things great managers do. On reading it, I saw that a lot of the stuff is things one would think are common sense. A lot of managers like to make like what they do is some mysterious, mystical thing or just something certain gifted people can do. It is not. It is dealing with people, and having the talent to deal with them well. So much of the advice in the book may seem common sense if you have such talent (or if you have been exposed to so many bad bosses and managers you just know they should be doing the stuff in the book instead). I did take a few notes, and I may write something a bit longer in my blog later. But in the end, the very simple gist of the book is this: hire the best people for their talent (not skills or knowledge. Those are important, but talent is the thing you need to look for since you can't teach talent), then do the best to make sure those folk can show you what they can do and let those talents flourish. Sure, set expectations and motivate, but if you select the wrong people, the rest will not fall into place. There is more, but there is the gist.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
As another research-based business book, this one presented a great point-of-view on managing people. While it does seem that Buckingham departed from his research slightly from time to time, the message still rings true. I would recommend that all managers consider the idea that people are all different, and therefore should be managed differently, not the same.
While I like the main message of this book, I will say that the delivery was somewhat lacking. The content was good, but it just isn't well written. Academic portions seemed to drag on, and the language isn't engaging. This was actually my 3rd attempt at this one, and I made it to the end by sheer will, despite liking and appreciating the message.
All things considered I would give the content a solid 4.5 stars, but taking a holistic view, I can't go over three stars. I plan on picking up a few additional titles by the same guys (Gallup research results) so they will get another chance...
The findings in this book would surprise many of us, who do self-development or others-development everyday. It would give you an effective framework in recruiting the right ones, setting the right goals, focusing on the strengths, and assigning the right roles to the subordinates. That'll help to bring the best out of them. What would surprise you is that you'll find many myths that you used to think it is right, but it is not from the findings of Gallup.
I read this a few years back. Overall I did not find this book and its approaches to management all that impressive. I have also heard Buckingham speak at a conference. He strikes me as someone who has not managed a lot but has a lot advice on how to do it.
Great book to teach about management and coaching. Also a great read for anyone looking to empower their own career. I feel you don't need to be in management or interested in being a manger to get value from this book.
This was a very informative book for me as a first-time manager. The key insights that I walk away with are:
1. There's a difference between skills, knowledge and talent. As a manager, recognize that someone's talents are usually enduring and extremely difficult to change, so make sure you select for talent and cast each person to the right match based on talents. Skills and knowledge you can then teach.
2. We often confuse what is a skill vs a talent. Talents are ingrained ways of doing things that come naturally, and these are different and unique at the individual level.
3. For talents, focus on developing the strengths. Remediating weaknesses, as they relate to talent, is often a waste of time and energy.
Many other things I found to be insightful and useful, but the above I'd say was the gist of what most helped my thinking. The book also has great questions to use as a manager, and I've had some great discussions so far with a few I've tried.
Maybe one day I'll feel comfortable enough managing people to no longer need it, but I expect to keep this book close to my desk as a reference for a while.
I've approached this book from different points of view and, by extension, different needs:
1. as a program manager of a management learning program (2004 - 2007): to find out if the book is suitable as a thought-provoking gift to a group of new managers who have just completed their management development program.
2. as a management consultant (2007 - 2011): to learn the words and pictures used to describe talent, superstar performers, expectations and the different behaviors.
3. as a manager (2011 until now): -- to learn how to meet the expectations of my team members -- to learn how to do things differently even though they are counter-intuitive in my mind -- to find out elements of a work environment that frees talent -- to get advice on what to prioritize in order to be a great manager, because I believe that it can be learned.
The only reason I'd need to get a new copy of this book is because my current copy would be tattered from my constant referring to it.
This book was recommended to me by one of my colleagues. I usually don't read management or self help books as I find them boring but this one read like a novel and I could relate to several instances and situations which I face everyday in corporate world.
Probably the best management book written so far. Its based on market research conducted by Gallup over a span of many years.
The results are outstanding and help to break many conventional ground rules followed by Management across many companies.
The outcomes of each endeavour be it employee retention, talent acquisition, promotion, work ethics, work environment etc are based on several interviews held with managers across all the levels.
The results break conventional wisdom and the book has been aptly titled "First Break All the Rules" as it shakes the very foundation of man management.
Hope the top management reads and follows this book religiously.
i don't *want* to really like a book about management but i think for what it is, it's pretty good. i read the 99 edition, so i can't speak to the reviews saying it changed for the worse in the newer edition. anyway. the book itself:
managers are hugely influential in an employee's experience at work. a manager's job is to match up employees with work they're talented at and enjoy, remove roadblocks, and "catalyze" them to become even better. don't try to make them someone they're not, help them make the most of their strengths.
pretty common-sense stuff, but with enough examples and details and things to think about that i found it a useful read
some of the examples of what not to do were pretty funny too. like, someone actually thought it was a good idea to do [insert stupid thing]? and then they did it?? and it failed??? how could that have happened 😱
my favorite line was probably the mention of "amazon, the on-line bookseller"
This was the book that launched Gallup's HR consulting practice. Taking their organizational core competencies of surveys and data analysis into the workplace yielded a magnificent business book that for once wasn't personality or anecdote driven. Gallup surveyed millions of workers, defined success for a business unit based on quantifiable outcomes, and then conducted qualitative interviews to follow up on what the best managers were doing differently. Understanding the results will make you a better manager if you are in that position, a better executive if you have to choose managers, and a happier employee if you know what to look for in a manager. So, this book is for everyone who works with others. It fits with findings from positive psychology so it is likely to last and it will launch you into several great follow up books from the Gallup research team. It's a great investment.