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Practice What You Preach: What Managers Must Do to Create a High Achievement Culture [Paperback]

David H. Maister
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 July 2003
Are employee attitudes correlated with financial success? Unequivocally yes! according to consultant and bestselling author David H. Maister. Based on a worldwide survey of 139 offices in 29 professional service firms in numerous lines of business, Maister proves that companies perceived by their employees to practice what they preach in matters of client commitment, teamwork, high standards, and employee development are more successful than their competitors. Put simply, employee dedication causes improved financial performance. Through in-depth interviews, Maister explores the crucial role of the individual manager in promoting high morale among employees. Practice What You Preach boasts specific action recommendations from the managers of these "superstar" businesses on how to build an energized workplace, enforce standards of excellence, develop people, and have fun -- all in the name of profit. As a result, Practice What You Preach can help any manager increase profitability, and provides proof that great financial rewards come from living up to the standards that most businesses advocate, but few achieve.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (2 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743223209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743223201
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

David H Maister, a specialist in the management of professional service firms, surveyed 29 in 15 countries to determine whether positive employee attitudes really correlate to corporate success. In his consultancy and previous books he has suggested they do, and in Practice What You Preach he is able to show that in many companies it is "attitudes that drive financial results, and not (predominantly) the other way round". On a pragmatic level, this allows him to demonstrate how a subsequently energised workforce will provide top-quality client service--the key component in any service-oriented business. Overall, Maister recommends managers instil trust and respect, develop a high morale and serve as "coaches" rather than "most valuable players". He offers detailed case studies of survey respondents and amalgamates their replies into an explicit Path to Performance as well as four chapters with specific lessons that should be transferable to other enterprises (i.e., effective managers allow others to get deserved credit, ensure workers believe management is not only out to make a lot of money for itself and understand employees are looking for help in growing their careers). Practical and accessible, it also includes survey specifics for those who care to analyse them on their own. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Michael Albrecht, Jr. Global Executive, IBM With compelling evidence, Maister blows away the mysteries as to what makes a high performance team. He offers great insights and definitive actions. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The real strength of this book is not what it says, but the proof it offers in support of it.
Through extensive research Maister proves, for example, that increasing employee satisfaction will give rise to better financial results and that, in turn, employee satisfaction is caused by setting high standards, coaching and empowerment.
The book identifies 9 key factors which together account for over 50% of variances in profitability. They include such statements as "People within our office always treat others with respect" and "Around here you are required, not just encouraged to learn and develop new skills".
This is hot stuff for anyone in a position of management. Whilst focused primarily on professional service firms, the lessons are relevant to anyone managing a team of people in whatever sphere.
As well as detailed quantitative research (which is well explained) Maister cites some illuminating cases of enligthened managers who do practice what they preach and who, by doing so, are achieving extraordinary business results.
By focusing on the most important issue currently facing professional firms - that of bringing out the very best in their people - Maister reinforces his deserved reputation as a leader in the management of professional service firms.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Almost everyone will agree that professional firms must provide great service and terrific relationships to their clients. Some firms will provide these attributes at the expense of their own employees and others will not. Practice What You Preach establishes a quantified relationship to higher profitability in one publicly held marketing communications firm between those offices that nurtured their staffs as much as their clients. What made the difference? The attitudes and practices of the managers in the higher profit offices accounted for almost all of the variation.
General Schwartzkopf once said that you should "be the leader you want to have." That's the essence of the message of this book for achieving higher profitability. To make more money in pofessional offices, select and encourage leaders who will set high standards, serve as a good example, police the culture to improve it, and enable people to learn and make progress.
Few works about management and leadership have the superb quantifications involved in this book. The foundation comes in 5589 individual responses (to about 10,000 questionnaires distributed) in 139 offices of 29 firms owned by the same public company. Each office was characterized by four profit tests to establish a profit index. Then differences in employee survey responses were tested against the profit index. Taken in many different cuts, Mr. Maister tells you which questions best correlated statistically with higher profit index numbers for an office. Each key observation is supported by a case example of one office that did well in this dimension. First, he relates what the head of the office said about the office's success and culture. Then he provides a composite interview with the people who work in the office.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended! 1 Mar 2004
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Heavy but invaluable reading, this book presents the results of author David H. Maister's study of 139 offices of 29 professional service - more specifically, marketing and communications - firms in 15 countries. His objective was to identify the attitudes that correlate most strongly with financial success. He found what's been known all along - that financial success correlates very strongly with the perceived good character and integrity of management. When employees believe that management practices what it preaches, they seem to give extra effort and get astonishing results. The idea that character counts as much as, or perhaps more than, structure and corporate policy will be hard for many to accept. It takes courage, commitment, faith and humility to become the kind of person this study recommends. But this information shows us that, to contradict baseball player Leo Durocher, nice guys finish first.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Many books before this one have made the case for doing good business by treating people respectfully and in a trustworthy way. And several books before this one have preached courageous and long term oriented leadership. This book confirms these messages but does more: it presents convincing evidence to support these well known conclusions.
Maister has done a very elegant yet sophisticated study which he very lucidly and accessibly explains throughout the book and which very clearly proves his point. But don't worry: the book isn't dull and boring. Maister illustrates his research conclusions with fascinating case stories. Of course the message of this book is very positive and hopeful. Like Maister says: "Making money by having high standards [respect, trustworthyness, courage, etc] and never compromising them. What a concept!" But, you might think, is this not all idealistic soft talk?
Is this not too good to be true? Is it that easy? Not really! Practising what you preach requires courage and determination. What I found particularly interesting is the following: this book is more than anything about the difference in what you believe in and what you actually execute. And this is where courage comes in. For example the courage to say 'This far and no further!' when people show disrespect to others, or when other essential standards are violated. It also means saying 'no' to lucrative business which does not fit with your companies' vision/mission. And there is more, but you can read that in the book.
This book can inspire you to escape from the idea that you have to find the right balance between idealism and profitability; it invites you to be both highly idealistic and higly profitable. It can be done. Maister proves it.
Coert Visser
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