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First, Break All The Rules: What The Worlds Greatest Managers Do Differently [Hardcover]

Marcus Buckingham , Curt Coffman
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 5 1999
In First, Break All the Rules, Gallup presents the remarkable findings of its massive in-depth study of great managers—those who excelled at turning each employee’s talent into performance.

The world’s greatest managers differ in sex, age, and race. They employ different styles and focus on different goals. Despite their differences, great managers share one trait: They break virtually every rule conventional wisdom holds sacred. They don’t believe that, with enough training, a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They don’t try to help people overcome their weaknesses. They disregard the golden rule. They even play favorites.

Companies compete to find and keep the best employees using pay, benefits, promotions, and training. But these well-intentioned efforts often miss the mark. The front-line manager is the key to attracting and retaining talented employees. This amazing book explains how the best managers select employees for talent rather than for skills or experience, how they set expectations, how they motivate people, and how they develop people.

Gallup’s research—based on 80,000 managers in 400 companies—produced twelve simple questions that distinguish the strongest departments of a company from the rest. First, Break All the Rules introduces this essential measuring stick and proves the link between employee opinions and productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, and rate of turnover.

Frequently Bought Together

First, Break All The Rules: What The Worlds Greatest Managers Do Differently + Now, Discover Your Strengths: How to Build Your Strengths and the Strengths of Every Person in Your Organization + Strengthsfinder 2.0: From the Author of the Bestseller Wellbeing
Price For All Three: CDN$ 63.10

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From Amazon

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman expose the fallacies of standard management thinking in First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. In seven chapters, the two consultants for the Gallup Organization debunk some dearly held notions about management, such as "treat people as you like to be treated"; "people are capable of almost anything"; and "a manager's role is diminishing in today's economy." "Great managers are revolutionaries," the authors write. "This book will take you inside the minds of these managers to explain why they have toppled conventional wisdom and reveal the new truths they have forged in its place."

The authors have culled their observations from more than 80,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during the past 25 years. Quoting leaders such as basketball coach Phil Jackson, Buckingham and Coffman outline "four keys" to becoming an excellent manager: Finding the right fit for employees, focusing on strengths of employees, defining the right results, and selecting staff for talent--not just knowledge and skills. First, Break All the Rules offers specific techniques for helping people perform better on the job. For instance, the authors show ways to structure a trial period for a new worker and how to create a pay plan that rewards people for their expertise instead of how fast they climb the company ladder. "The point is to focus people toward performance," they write. "The manager is, and should be, totally responsible for this." Written in plain English and well organized, this book tells you exactly how to improve as a supervisor. --Dan Ring

From Booklist

The authors, both management consultants for the Gallup Organization, use the company's study of 80,000 managers in 400 companies to reach the conclusion that a company that lacks great frontline managers will bleed talent, no matter how attractive the compensation packages and training opportunities. With this in mind, they sought the answers to the follow-up questions: "How do great managers find, focus and keep talented employees." Using case studies, diagrams, and excerpts from interviews, Buckingham and Coffman guide us through their findings that discipline, focus, trust, and, most important, willingness to treat each employee as an individual are the overall secrets for turning talent into lasting performance. The book concludes with suggestions on how to become a great manager, including ideas for interviewing for talent, how to develop a performance management routine, and how to get the best performance from talented employees. Although this is clearly an infomercial for the Gallup Organization, it nevertheless offers thoughtful advice on the essential task of developing excellent managers. Mary Whaley

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This book appears to be written by a couple young guys who are very well educated but not so well experienced in management. Right up front (p. 11) they support the title of their book by stating great managers "consistently disregard the golden rule" (do onto others as you would like others to do onto you). That is nonsense and that is exactly what got the executives of Enron and numerous other corporations in BIG trouble.
This book was written in 1999 at the height of the deception going on by executives at Enron, Worldcom, Tyco International and multiple others before their inflated bubble burst. Leadership authors and speakers like these do a great disservice to those who earnestly want to learn how to succeed in business and those who want to trust the corporations they invest in.
This book of course isn't focused on how to break rules and has some good leadership tips. But so do a lot of good leadership books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This is a well researched book. The authors arrived at their conclusions after analyzing data collected by Gallup over 25 years - using an impressive sample size of 80 thousand managers and 1 million staff from 400 companies. Gallup has used its expertise in survey research to link employee engagement to business performance. The concepts are well explained and presented.
The essence of the findings lie in the 4 Keys of great managers and the 12 Questions that give organizations the information they need to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees.
The 4 Keys of great managers:
1. Select for talent - the authors define talent as "recurring patterns of behavior" and state that great managers find the match between talents and roles.
2. Define the right outcomes - managers needs to turn talent into performance. This can be done by defining the right outcomes and letting people find their own route toward the outcomes.
3. Focus on strengths - managers need to concentrate on strengths and not on weaknesses.
4. Find the Right Fit - managers need to assign roles to employees that give the employees the greatest chance of success.
The 12 Questions make an excellent list of questions that will be helpful to organizations as well as to employees. The authors group the questions into various categories and explain the importance of each question and group.
I give this book 5 stars because the insights are practical and backed by empirical evidence, and the book is well presented. I was able to apply the concepts immediately. I read this book when I was assigned the role of a team lead. I was able to improve the efficiency of the team by assigning tasks to people based on their individual strengths.
This book has a lot of substance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars First, You should know what you are talking about Oct. 10 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I began reading this book with an open mind. I am an HR VP with over 20 years of experience at Fortune 500 organizations. This book tries to be iconoclastic and innovative for line management, however, any good manager should see through its marketing and catchy title. This book is based on the "strengths" concept which has no empirical data other than that done by those on the Gallup payroll.
I strongly recommend sticking with more trusted and proven business advice from better publishers and authors with degrees in the field in which they are writing about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some basic common sense, not much else Feb. 23 2001
Format:Hardcover
There are a few good common sense ideas in this book. For example: 1.It's hard to change people; 2. Make the most of an employee's talents instead of trying to fix their weaknesses; 3. Don't micro-manage; 4. A good way of doing something is not simply the opposite of a bad way. The authors then contend that these ideas go against conventional wisdom. I don't know what conventional wisdom they are talking about since it agrees with most of mine. But then again I went to an engineering school, not a business school. After presenting these ideas there is not much else in the book except a series of disconnected management anecdotes. Curiously most of these anecdotes are examples of bad management. This is in direct contradiction to idea 4 above, which the authors spent several pages discussing. I think the first example of good management was about halfway through the book when they started to talk about Southwest Airlines. (Actually if someone wants to write a good management book, do a case study on Southwest Airlines.) Also most of the examples deal with restaraunts, hotels, and banks with almost none from a high tech or software business. Finally I think (and this is conventional wisdom again) a good manager must be able to 1.Prioritize; 2.Organize. The authors say nothing of these abilities and obviously know little about them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding the right fit June 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book is has proven invaluable in my business. I recommend it to any manager who is having trouble motivating and keeping key employees in today's marketplace. Happy employees are more productive employees and this book can provide new insight on how to make the most of any team.
I also recommend Rat Race Relaxer: Your Potential & The Maze of Life by JoAnna Carey. Companies, teams and employess committed to excellence will love its goal oriented approach to business motivation.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars loved this book!
This book offered so many clear insights. I am a new manager and related to many of the situations described here. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Sarah
4.0 out of 5 stars first is good
second book in series is the best
third is not that great

interesting insight to know that not all "good managers" manage the same way
Published 1 month ago by Chris R Kendrick
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent advice
a lot of good anecdotal examples of how the principles affect not just the working environment, but also how they spill over into the home life.
Published 11 months ago by P. D. Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars This book really makes you think
Questioning why you behave the way you do and why those myths have become your truths. It helps to dismiss those myths and lets you focus on moving forward enlightened with a new... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Cyndi Seifried
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever have a great manager?
A fantastic book and now in my top recommendations for managers and leaders! If you've ever had the fortune to work with a great manager but can't quite put your finger on what... Read more
Published on June 29 2008 by Doug Kyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Marcus is one of the best speakers on management today. His books offers insigtful ways of thinking that are no ground shaking, but if used properly become ground shaking. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2006 by Business Improvement Solutions Inc.
5.0 out of 5 stars Do it differently
I agree with the findings of this book. I agree that it's not super new information but the information sunk in with the way it was told. Read more
Published on June 7 2005 by John B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding the right fit
This book has become priceless to my business. I highly recommend it to any manager who is having trouble motivating and keeping key employees in today's business environment. Read more
Published on July 8 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Managers help make great employees great
This is by far one of the best management books that I have ever read. The Gallup Organization puts a whole new spin on what makes a great manager great - helping their employees... Read more
Published on June 23 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great book on Common Sense Management
When did we lose our common sense? In college? Whenever this happened (and whatever the cause), this book helps to reclaim our common sense when applied to the world of managing... Read more
Published on June 22 2004 by Michael Gordon
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