David Sirota is founder and Chairman Emeritus, Louis A. Mischkind is Senior Vice-President, and Michael Meltzer is Managing Director and General Counsel at Sirota Consulting. All authors have impressive credentials to their names, ranging from doctorates through to directorships at IBM. This review is slightly longer than my usual ones.
This 2005-hardcover version is split up in 5 parts, consisting of 1-to-4 chapters each. There are also 5 proper appendices, which contain the statistical evidence for the claims made in the book by the authors. In the extensive introduction the authors discuss the background, research and set up of the book.
The first part of the book - Worker Motivation, Morale, and Performance - consists of 2 chapters. In the first chapter the authors assert that there are three primary sets of goals at work: Equity, achievement, and camaraderie. They term these "our Three Factor Theory of Human Motivation in the Workplace" and maintain that "these three sets of goals characterize what the overwhelming majority of workers want." In the second chapter the authors ask the question: "what does employee enthusiasm have to do with business success?" The authors believe that higher morale of their workers is one of the key characteristics of companies that have experienced long-term success. The term `enthusiastic' is introduced in order to elevate superior overall satisfaction scores, since they are just more than moderately satisfied, and organizations with enthusiastic employees are much higher performing organizations than the rest.
The second part of the book - Enthusiastic Workforces, Motivated by Fair Treatment - consists of 3 chapters and discusses the first of the Three Factor Theory, the concept of equity. In the first chapter of this part the authors tackle the issue of job security which "is a defining characteristic [of a company] because a decision to lay off people sends a message to the workforce about the way the company views its people: assets or as costs (necessary evils)." In the second chapter the authors discuss compensation, which is also extraordinarily important for worker morale and performance. There is a short piece on money as seen from a worker's and an employer's perspective. The final chapter of this part discusses respect, which is the major non-financial component of equity. The kind of respect the authors have in mind is "from a sense of the intrinsic worth of human beings - all human beings." Equality through the treatment of each individual is at the heart of respect, but the core issue is how higher income and power level individuals treat individuals at lower levels.
Part III - Enthusiastic Workforces, Motivated by Achievement consists of 4 chapters and discusses the second of the Three Factor Theory, the concept of achievement. The authors discuss a critical condition for employee enthusiasm, which is a clear, credible, and inspiring organizational purpose, or a "reason for being there". There is an important piece on translating words into deeds, whereby discuss 3 reasons for not implementing formal purpose/mission/vision/values statements. The second chapter discusses the business practices that enable people to get their jobs done well. "A high degree of perceived effectiveness is a condition for worker enthusiasm. The third chapter deals with the concept of job satisfaction, or what people feel about the nature of work itself. Surveys surprisingly indicate that most people like their jobs, while only a minority is dissatisfied with their jobs. This is based on the fact that people will continue doing jobs that they do well, or, as the author explain, "few people volunteer to fail." However, a large number of employees still end up in jobs they dislike. One reason for this is job choice, especially in initial choices. Another reason is that people get stuck in a job, often for financial reasons. The final chapter on the concept of achievement focuses on the external sources of satisfaction, the sense of achievement and accomplishment that comes from the opinions of others. The data from the authors suggests that many managers have trouble giving good, constructive feedback. The authors believe that performance feedback is a vehicle for guidance, evaluation, recognition, reward, and direction. Each of these five aspects and outcomes of feedback are discussed in detail, including giving some good advice on giving guidance and dealing with unsatisfactory performance.
The fourth part of the book - Enthusiastic Workforces, Motivated by Camaraderie - which consists of only 1 chapter and discusses the third and final of the Three Factory Theory, the concept of camaraderie. "The quality of social relationships in the workplace - its `social capital' - ... are critical for effective performance and, therefore, for a sense of achievement in one's work." There is a short look back to the human relations school, first introduced by Elton Mayo during the 1930s-1940s, followed by a discussion whether we are doing any better now. They turn to socializing at work. "Although employees derive pleasure from associating with others ... their greatest satisfaction comes from interacting as a team on the job in the service of common performance goals. That is a tremendous source of morale for employees." And they eventually conclude that "cooperation - not job descriptions, not organization charts, not formal procedures - is the glue that binds the parts of the organization." There is also good guidance on building partnerships between work units, which are typically not as good as partnerships within work units.
The fifth and final part of this book - Bringing It All Together - consists of 2 chapters. In the first chapter the authors aim to provide guidance on how to think of the components of an organization as a system, which is governed by an organization culture. The authors identify the 12 hallmarks of a successful partnership. In addition, they also describe the three major organization types - transactional, paternalistic, and adversarial. "The partnership concept is powerful. It can be applied to the relationships of an organization with all its key constituencies." The title of the final chapter of this book is self-explanatory - Translating Partnership Theory into Partnership Practice. It aims for "a more comprehensive statement of a process for advancing an organization toward a partnership culture." Before the authors outline a very useful 9-step action process, they accentuate "that action must begin with, and be sustained by, senior management." Last, but not least, the authors introduce 9 questions that each addresses a recommended step for introducing partnership.
Yes, I do like this book. It introduces a Three Factor Theory of Human Motivation in the Workplace, which needs to be translated into The Partnership Organization. The theory is well translated into a practical process. In accordance with conclusions of recent research by others, the partnership organization is also built on three `softer factors'. I particularly like the last chapter, which really combines the book well and translates it into 9 useful steps which should be used as a checklist by managers. I believe that this book is a useful addition to other research into high-performance organizations, such as Tom Peters & Robert Waterman (In Search of Excellence, 1982), Jim Collins & Jerry Porras (Built to Last, 1994), Jim Collins (Good to Great, 2001). I must admit that the amount of research, data and surveys by the authors is mindblowing and is well covered in the appendices. Recommended to all people interested in management and successful organizations.