Review - First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently - Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
What I enjoyed mostly about this book is the statement: "Great managers routinely break all the rules". They take the conventional wisdom about human nature and managing people and turn it upside down. Great managers ignore the conventional wisdom that says management’s job is to identify employee weaknesses and devise a plan to correct and overcome those weaknesses. Instead, they operate on the assumption that people don’t and probably can’t change many of the traits they carry; therefore, managers should focus on their efforts to enhance, develop and improve the strengths of their employees, and spend more time with their high potential employees.
The book started by identifying the "Measuring Stick" to assess the strength of the workplace. In order to know whether a workplace is strong enough, an employee has to answer affirmatively to the following 12 questions:
- Do I know what is expected of me at work?
- Do I have the equipment and material 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 feel 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 to someone about my progress?
- This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
The book highlighted four main keys that each manager should be equipped with:
- Employees should be selected based on Talent (not performance, experience or intelligence)
- Measure performance based on results only (avoid the temptation to control).
- Focus on the strengths and ignore weaknesses
- Find the right fit for each employees rather than the next step in the corporate ladder.
The "Wisdom of Great Managers" is that they break the rules of conventional wisdom. Great managers focus on the strengths of their employees and don't try to fix their weaknesses. This wisdom emphasizes the opinion that people don’t change that much. Therefore, managers should not waste time trying to put in what was left out and instead try to draw out what was left in.
Organizations should be able to differentiate between the role of managers and leaders. Not all managers are "leaders in waiting". Great managers looks internally within the organization trying to identify different styles, motivations, goals, and needs for each employee. Leaders on the other side, should look externally for opportunities, alternative routes and the future of the company. Therefore, managers should be left alone to do what they are best at; managing others, and organization should stop wasting everyone's time trying to make managers "lead" others.