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12: The Elements Of Great Managing [Hardcover]

Rodd Wagner , James K. Harter
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2006
12: The Elements of Great Managing is the long-awaited sequel to the 1999 runaway bestseller First, Break All the Rules. Grounded in Gallup's 10 million employee and manager interviews spanning 114 countries, 12 follows great managers as they harness employee engagement to turn around a failing call center, save a struggling hotel, improve patient care in a hospital, maintain production through power outages, and successfully face a host of other challenges in settings around the world.

The authors weave the latest Gallup insights with recent discoveries in the fields of neuroscience, game theory, psychology, sociology, and economics. Written for managers and employees of companies large and small, 12 explains what every company needs to know about creating and sustaining employee engagement.

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12: The Elements Of Great Managing + First, Break All The Rules: What The Worlds Greatest Managers Do Differently + StrengthsFinder 2.0: By the New York Times Bestselling Author of Wellbeing
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About the Author

Rodd Wagner is a principal of The Gallup Organization. At Gallup, Wagner interprets employee engagement and business performance data for numerous Fortune 500 companies. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Utah Graduate School of Business. Wagner, his wife, Nora, and their three children live near Minneapolis, Minnesota.

James K. Harter, PH.D. is chief scientist for The Gallup Organization's international workplace management practice. Some of his research has been popularized in the business bestsellers First, Break All the Rules and How Full Is Your Bucket? Harter has worked for The Gallup Organization since 1985, and lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with his wife, RaLinda, and their two sons. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
If you haven't read First, Break All the Rules, I have good news for you: Just read this book instead. 12: The Elements of Great Managing is a better book.

If you have read First, Break All the Rules, chances are it was a long time ago. You are probably ready for a refresher if you read that book back in 1999 or 2000 as I did.

As before, the Gallup people have asked that reviewers not list the 12 elements. I think they are overly sensitive, but I'll honor their request.

Let me characterize the 12 elements instead: Each point relates to either a necessity for being able to do your job well, having a sense that people care that you come to work, feeling engaged by your work, and seeing a future in what you are doing. Employees who feel engaged in these dimensions usually stay longer, are less likely to be out sick, and perform at higher levels of productivity. After you see the list, you'll accept those conclusions, I'm sure.

Since the first book came out, Gallup has done a lot more interviews. One of the benefits of all hose millions of additional interviews is to provide extra information about how and why each element is important. I was pleased to see that the authors also draw on psychological and physiological research to help explain their findings.

But the best parts, for me, were the 12 case studies that were like mini-fables of the sort that Ken Blanchard likes to write . . . except these cases involve real people. The leaders make mistakes as well as do things right, and you get a sense of how hard it is to improve performance in an important employee dimension when your organization has been doing it badly for some time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insights - backed by empirical evidence. March 24 2008
Format:Hardcover
The 12 elements represent the aspects of work that are most powerful in explaining workers' productive motivations on the job. They include job clarity, materials and equipment, recognition and praise... learning and growth opportunities.
These are my reasons for rating this book 5 stars:
1. The insights are backed by empirical evidence,
2. Although the approach is scientific, the book is easy to understand,
3. It incorporates international perspectives.
The authors illustrate the 12 Elements with examples from the US, Brazil, Germany, India and other countries. The insights are practical and backed by empirical evidence gathered from 10 million employee and manager interviews from 114 countries. In this book employee engagement has been linked to business performance. The authors have compared the top-quartile and bottom-quartile business units for the Elements, and have measured the overall difference between engaged and actively disengaged employees. Throughout the book you will read results that link these differences to a variety of business metrics - productivity, profitability, absenteeism, turnover, shrink (the retailers' euphemism for theft), accidents, customer ratings, etc. I enjoyed the way in which the findings were presented. Each chapter starts with a situation where a company has problems related to an Element. The authors then present their research and findings. After that a "great" manager implements changes and saves the day.
This book is exceptionally well researched.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All great managers are expert cardiologists March 23 2009
By Robert Morris HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman's First, Break All the Rules, was published in 1999. In it, they discuss twelve crucial statements (Q12®) to which millions of workers had responded in surveys conducted by The Gallup Organization during the previous 25 years. Then in 2006, Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter's 12: The Elements of Great Managing was published. (Both are Gallup principals.) As they explain, these statements comprise "the 12 Elements of Great Managing...Behind each of these is a fundamental truth about human nature on the job. The correlations between each element and better performance not only draw a roadmap to superior managing; they also reveal fascinating insights into how the human mind - molded by thousands of years foraging, hunting, and cooperating within a close-knit and stable tribe - reacts in a relatively new, artificial world cubicles, project timelines, corporate ambiguity, and changing workgroup membership." The question Terry poses is a critically important one. In my opinion, the best answer to it is provided by the twelve crucial statements (Q12®). I will not provide a list of them because I have not obtained written consent of The Gallup Organization to do so. However, I can strongly recommend First, Break All the Rules and then 12: The Elements of Great Managing in which there is rigrous and comprehensive discussion of them.

One "crucial imperative" for C-level executives in most organizations is to achieve and then sustain high employee engagemen. Consider these statistics based on recent Gallup research: 29% of the U.S. workforce is positively engaged (i.e. loyal, enthusiastic, and productive) whereas 55% is passively disengaged. That is, they are going through the motions, doing only what they must, "mailing it in," coasting, etc.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  46 reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insights - backed by empirical evidence. Jan. 3 2007
By Avinash Sharma, The Yogic Manager - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The 12 elements represent the aspects of work that are most powerful in explaining workers' productive motivations on the job. They include job clarity, materials and equipment, recognition and praise... learning and growth opportunities.

These are my reasons for rating this book 5 stars:

1. The insights are backed by empirical evidence,

2. Although the approach is scientific, the book is easy to understand,

3. It incorporates international perspectives.

The authors illustrate the 12 Elements with examples from the US, Brazil, Germany, India and other countries. The insights are practical and backed by empirical evidence gathered from 10 million employee and manager interviews from 114 countries. In this book employee engagement has been linked to business performance. The authors have compared the top-quartile and bottom-quartile business units for the Elements, and have measured the overall difference between engaged and actively disengaged employees. Throughout the book you will read results that link these differences to a variety of business metrics - productivity, profitability, absenteeism, turnover, shrink (the retailers' euphemism for theft), accidents, customer ratings, etc. I enjoyed the way in which the findings were presented. Each chapter starts with a situation where a company has problems related to an Element. The authors then present their research and findings. After that a "great" manager implements changes and saves the day.

This book is exceptionally well researched. In addition to research by Gallup, it includes references from the works of several other researchers and authors that stretch across time and disciplines; for example Economics (from Adam Smith to Steven Levitt), Psychology (from Abraham Maslow to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi), Management (from Frederick Taylor to Jeffrey Pfeffer)... Movies (Office Space), TV (Seinfeld) and Cartoons (Dilbert). The book also includes discoveries from neuroscience and game theory.

A note on the important of empirical evidence:

Many managers prefer to manage by their gut feelings, intuition, or by whatever fad that consulting firms are selling. For them, "evidence" often means personal, N=1 experience, and not consistent demonstration of results across contexts and time. That's part of the reason that they will continue to create the same problems that so many before them have made. Today, movements such as "evidence based management" are gaining popularity in academic and business circles. Several HR and Organizational Behavior professionals and professors (for instance Stanford's Pfeffer and Sutton) are applying techniques from science, engineering and statistics to the discipline of management.

Overall, I found this to be an excellent book and recommend it to all managers.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overdue Update on First, Break All the Rules with Detailed Examples March 26 2007
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you haven't read First, Break All the Rules, I have good news for you: Just read this book instead. 12: The Elements of Great Managing is a better book.

If you have read First, Break All the Rules, chances are it was a long time ago. You are probably ready for a refresher if you read that book back in 1999 or 2000 as I did.

As before, the Gallup people have asked that reviewers not list the 12 elements. I think they are overly sensitive, but I'll honor their request.

Let me characterize the 12 elements instead: Each point relates to either a necessity for being able to do your job well, having a sense that people care that you come to work, feeling engaged by your work, and seeing a future in what you are doing. Employees who feel engaged in these dimensions usually stay longer, are less likely to be out sick, and perform at higher levels of productivity. After you see the list, you'll accept those conclusions, I'm sure.

Since the first book came out, Gallup has done a lot more interviews. One of the benefits of all hose millions of additional interviews is to provide extra information about how and why each element is important. I was pleased to see that the authors also draw on psychological and physiological research to help explain their findings.

But the best parts, for me, were the 12 case studies that were like mini-fables of the sort that Ken Blanchard likes to write . . . except these cases involve real people. The leaders make mistakes as well as do things right, and you get a sense of how hard it is to improve performance in an important employee dimension when your organization has been doing it badly for some time. One of the things I liked best about the cases was that the authors didn't go overboard by just presenting organizations that perform in the top 1 percent that wouldn't seem quite real to most people.

I also liked the section at the end about how pay overlaps with all of the other findings. Most people are affected by their pay, and I thought that the authors put that into perspective quite well.

Although part of the message is that you need Gallup surveys to figure out what your problem is with employee engagement, the book is tactfully quiet on that point. Nice!

Although you may be tempted to either just read the list and feel like you've got it or just read the cases in areas where you think you have problems, I encourage you to read all of the material. You might get a new assignment tomorrow that will look totally different from where you are today. That happened to several people in the book. You'll be better prepared when that happens.

I thought that First, Break All the Rules was better than an MBA education on how to be an effective leader. This book is probably better than most DBA educations on the same subject.

Be engaging!
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Material, but Redundant Oct. 31 2007
By Jeff Staddon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Overall this is a great book. It's packed with good information, backed with solid research, great statistics, real examples and well written. Normally I'd give it a 5 star rating. When compared against other books in its genre, it's a great book and deserves your attention.

However, I found much of this book a rehash of the material in "First, Break All the Rules". The ideas are important enough that I went ahead and forced my way through the book. However I was definitely disappointed that the "Long-Awaited Follow-Up" as the cover advertises didn't really contain anything dramatically new that was not already covered in "First, Break All the Rules".
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you treat people like people you end up doing better. Jan. 13 2009
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a follow on to "First Break All the Rules" and provides you with a list of the twelve elements that great managers use. These were distilled from the ten million workplace interviews Gallup has done over a long period of time, and I think they make sense. Really, they are about supporting your workers, respecting them, treating them as people rather than cogs in a machine, and managing them with a view to giving to them rather than exploiting them and taking from them. If you or your company are all about getting all you can out of your workers and letting them take until they leave, this book will tell you that you are on exactly the wrong course. So, if you want to hear about a better way, read this book. If you are happy in your current exploitive approach, don't bother with this book (although you will be cheating yourself).

The 12 elements are:
1) Ensuring your employees know what is expected not only in the tasks of their job, but in all of its ramifications and under a range of circumstances.
2) Provide your employees with the actual tools and resources they need to perform their job excellently. Don't make them scrounge, hoard, or steal to get their job done.
3) Do your best to let the employee use their best talents in their work. Fit the job to what they do best rather than making them fit themselves to get a job done.
4) Provide compliments, recognition, and public pats on the back weekly.
5) Foster an environment where people feel cared about as a person by other people.
6) Be sure employees understand a career path and are developing new skills.
7) Listen to employee opinions and implement the really good ones.
8) Show them how their work directly connects to the mission of the firm.
9) Foster teams that succeed and do quality work so each person has a sense of belonging, of success, and of pride.
10) Create a culture where each person feels that they have to come to work to be with one of their best friends.
11) Talk with each employee about their progress as part of your everyday work rather than only at the annual interview. Use the interview to review accomplishments and set next year's goals.
12) Provide real opportunities for each person to learn and grow as a person as well as an employee.

And take some time to get your compensation package right. Too many companies are sloppy and not using the money they pay out to its maximum advantage. Pay is rarely the most important thing on an employee's mind and when it becomes a serious issue, you have already bungled other aspects of the person's employment. But you don't want to put yourself in a weak position in what and how you compensate your people.

I thought this was an interesting and useful book.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your time Nov. 30 2006
By B. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One of the things that makes this book so worth the read is its SUPPORT IN DATA. The authors do a good job summarizing an enormously rich database down into actual, consise recommendations. So many other books I've read on this topic tend to draw from small, retrospective samples, personal anecdotes, or unique(?) case studies. Such books might make for interesting story telling. More rare is the book that tells the story supported by a whopping 10 million interviews/observations and then ties these observations to company performance outcomes. Read other books if you just like catchy, one-off stories. Read this one if you're looking for well told stories drawn from principles that are statistically proven to actually work.
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