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Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers Paperback – 21 Feb 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: PORTFOLIO; BUS edition (21 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591841909
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591841906
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 139,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
This very useful guide is full of strategies to help you get the most out of your staff. The gardening analogy does wear a bit thin by the end of the book, but its points are valid, and it lays out a solid road map for hiring and developing employees. Author Erika Andersen provides case studies and other hands-on tools that give you the chance to apply what you learn along the way. In addition to telling you how to grow great employees, she offers information on how to decide that someone isn't going to fit and how to let them go properly. getAbstract recommends this excellent guide, which carefully explains how to become a master at hiring and keeping good employees, a very important facet of growing your business.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 27 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Very interesting metaphor with even better explanation 3 Jan. 2007
By Craig Matteson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you manage people at work or in any organization (even if you are a parent), this book offers a very helpful metaphor in discussing the difficulties in managing people. The title's use of the word growing refers to the idea of a manager as a gardener. The idea is that you can't make people "grow" or even do what you want them to do just because you want them to do it. The author covers the whole cycle of employment (although for families we don't actually hire or fire).

One of the things I like about the metaphor is that a gardener has to do a lot of work to prepare the ground to receive the seeds. If you have ever painted a room, you know that most of the work is in preparing to paint. In the same way, a successful manager has to do a lot of things to set up success in his or her organization before the actual managing of people begins.

Erika Anderson offers five sound principles for the manager as gardener:

1) There is no such thing as a successful one-minute gardener
2) Prepare the soil by listening (I would add that this isn't letting others talk, but actually requires hearing and understanding not only what is being said, but why it is being said.)
3) Maintain the right mindset (that is, just as a gardener doesn't give up or blame the plants if the garden is not coming in the way she wants, the successful manager believes in her ability to coach and develop an employee's potential and help him to develop into what is desired.)
4) Don't be afraid to prune. (This is done to plants to focus growth of a certain kind and direction - employees need this, too. However, just as you can't cut a plant too harshly, you cannot "prune" employees in a way that causes estrangement and anger and actually hinders development.)
5) Re-evaluate when it's not working. (Sometimes a certain kind of plant becomes noxious to the development of the garden. Managers have to be courageous enough to see this and make decisive changes when necessary. Sometimes you need to fire people.)

There is a lot more to the book in explaining these principles in more detail and the kinds of gardening techniques useful in succeeding with each of these principles.

Anderson provides some helpful illustrations, charts, checklists, and anecdotes from both gardening and business management. It reads easily. And if you like the metaphor, it will make the book that much more helpful to you. I think the book can be quite helpful for the person (manager) who finds the metaphor intriguing. It appealed to me.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
One of the best 2 Jan. 2007
By Charles Decker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I review books for major business magazines, so I see virtually everything published. As anyone who reads business books knows, there is very little 'new' out there. This book breaks the mold. The author has a wonderful personal style, so the ideas are quite accessible, and the garden metaphor never gets tired. I particularly enjoyed her emphasis on the importance of listening, as so many male managers are taught that THEY are supposed to have the solution to every problem when in fact outcomes are often decided in tandem or in teams. If you can check out the companion website to the book it can be eye-opening.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Finally, something helpful! 2 Feb. 2007
By P. Mitchell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
You know what distinguishes this book from pretty much everything else in this category: It's actually helpful. So many of these management books are filled with the obvious or the only-applicable-for-the-salesforce. This has stuff I was using the day I after I read it. My favorites:

1. How to really listen (sounds simple, but we're not usually doing it well). (chapter 1)
2. How to avoid with personality clashes when personalities/style differ, both between employees and between employees and clients. (chapter 6)
3. How to delegate and free up time (that's HOW to do it, not just that we're supposed to do this; already know that, of course). And -- this is what I began seeing just the other day -- how this gets employees to step up. (chapter 8)

Amazon's business book editor recommend the book, too (Titles for a Terrific 2007). Anyway, the book is good if you get to/have to manage people. I even ended up googling the author and found this podcast -- [...]
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great Book 17 Aug. 2007
By Meredith Wagner & Pat Langer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For nearly a decade, we have been the lucky beneficiaries of Erika Andersen's wisdom and counsel. Her communication style is clear and engaging, and we only wish we could type fast enough to memorialize all her wisdom. We consider having all her great insight in one book as not just a gift to us, but to anyone who wants to sharpen their own business skills and create an outstanding team.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Helpful, Engaging and Powerful Tool! 13 Aug. 2007
By Julianna Hynes - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Growing Great Employees is a helpful, engaging and powerful tool for managers to use in building building their staff and their departments. Erika's writing style pulled me in and kept me engaged in this concept of growing great employees. By the time I was finished reading the book, I felt empowered and prepared to better develop people and help them to develop themselves.
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