First Break All the Rules is a book
based on two research studies conducted by the Gallup Organization which
involved 80,000 leaders across various businesses and over a million employees.
It brings to bare how great managers attract, employ and retain their top most
talents. It explores the challenges of many companies which comprises
recruiting, assessing employee satisfaction and retaining employees.
Based on interviews with over a
million employees over a period of 25 years, the Gallup Organization realized
that in order for a business to determine how it ranks in attracting and
retaining the best talent, it was best to review the answers to the following
twelve questions from employees;
I know what is expected of me at work?
I have the right materials and equipment I need to do my work properly?
work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
the last 7 days have I received recognition or praise for good work?
my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
there someone at work who encourages my development?
work, do my opinions seem to count?
the mission/purpose of my company make me feel like my work is important?
my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last 6 months, have I talked
with someone at work about my progress?
12. At work, have I had opportunities to
learn and grow?
The Gallup study revealed that those
companies that received positive answers to these 12 questions profited more,
were more productive as business units, retained more employees per year, and
satisfied more customers.
In order for employees to give of
their best, employers need to satisfy the basic needs of its employees. The
basic needs are: knowing what is expected of the employee at work, giving her
the equipment and support to do her work right, and answering her basic
questions of self-worth and self-esteem by giving praise for good work and
caring about her development as a person.
The great manager mantra is don’t try
to put in what was left out; instead draw out what was left in. You must hire
for talent, and hone that talent into outstanding performance.
According to Buckingham and Coffman,
in order for Managers to attract and retain the very best of available talent they
must First, Break All the Rules. That is, successful leaders broke all the
rules of conventional management wisdom.
The second study involved the
interview of eighty thousand Managers in relation to how they create an
environment that attracts, develops and keeps skilled employees.
This concept separated the
great managers from the lesser ones and it is the foundational idea that lays
beneath their four keys to success. These
four keys include the following;
Firstly, Buckingham and Coffman believe that managers should hire employees based on talent
rather than people with experience, intelligence and determination. While great
managers agree that these are important, they believe that talent is the most significant
reason for excellent job performance.
According to the authors, talent is
the key for great performance in any role and it cannot be taught, you either
have it or you lack it. Knowledge can be acquired, skills can be taught, but no
amount of training or coaching will create talents, you can’t make someone love
precision, feel empathetic or become assertive. That’s why great managers
select for talent first, and then for knowledge and skills. The authors also recommend
identifying 3 key talents for what is needed for a particular role.
Secondly, Managerial convention
suggests that in setting expectations, leaders should define the steps for
success. This is a rule that should be broken according to Buckingham and
The right outcomes should be set not
steps. That involves standardizing the end but not the means of getting there.
They point out that as long as employees stick to the organization and industry
standards, the means of getting there should not be the main focus. Employees
should be given the freedom to choose the methods to achieve the end goal.
Successful Managers define the outcomes,
then let their staff decide how to get there. A benefit of this method is that
staff take on responsibility. By making the choice of how things will be done, they
are accountable for the outcomes.
By letting staff take on responsibility
according to the authors, the following rule of thumbs need to be followed to
avoid surrendering everything.
The first rule of thumb, don’t risk
it. Employees must follow certain required steps for all aspects of their role
that involves accuracy or safety
Second rule of thumb states that standards
rule. Employees must follow required steps when those steps are a part of a
company or industry standard.
Third rule of thumb dictates that don’t
let creed overshadow the message. Required steps are useful only if they do not
obscure the desired outcome.
Lastly, there are no steps leading to
customer satisfaction. Required steps only prevent dis-satisfaction. They
cannot drive customer satisfaction.
The authors mention that these rules
will guide organizations to focus on outcomes rather than steps by identifying
what should remain and what should be given away.
The third key is to focus on strengths
not weaknesses. Convention suggests Managers should motivate employees by
helping them to identify and deal with weaknesses. This results in employees hearing
little about their strengths and a lot about their shortcomings. This brings
about frustration which leads to sub-par performances from employees.
Buckingham and Coffman point out that
this is another rule that should be broken.
Successful managers get to know each
of their employees and learn about their strengths, weaknesses, motivations,
passions, goals and dreams. Then they find ways to turn those strengths into
performance. They help each person see and understand their personal style and
work with them to develop ways of using it effectively.
The authors also point out that great
managers also make sure each employee is cast in a role that suits their
talents, that is doing something that comes naturally to them.
Finally, the last key is about finding
the right fit. Conventional wisdom suggests Managers should help employees
learn and get promoted. This is another rule that should be broken according to
Buckingham and Coffman.
Successful managers do well to provide
employees with feedback with respect to their work and this helps them to get
better. They also look to promote employees based on their strengths and not
just for the purpose of filling spaces that have been created as a result of
retirement or some other reason.
The best managers reject conventional
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 every day. 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.