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First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Great Managers Do Differently ([Simon & Schuster business books]) Hardcover – 6 Sep 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 6 Sep 1999
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (6 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684852861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684852867
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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 Organisation 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. 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 organised, this book tells you exactly how to improve as a supervisor. --Dan Ring --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


"Out of hundreds of books about improving organizational performance, here is one that is based on extensive empirical evidence and a book that focuses on specific actions managers can take to make their organizations better today! In a world in which managing people provides the differentiating advantage, First, Break All the Rules is a must-read."–Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford Business School Professor and author of The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First

"This book challenges basic beliefs of great management with powerful evidence and a compelling argument. First, Break All the Rules is essential reading."–Bradbury H. Anderson President and COO, Best Buy

"This is it! With compelling insight backed by powerful Gallup data, Buckingham and Coffman have built the unshakable foundation of effective management. For the first time, a clear pathway has been identified for creating engaged employees and high-performance work units. It has changed the way I approach developing managers. First, Break All the Rules is a critical resource for every front-line supervisor, middle manager, and institutional leader."–Michael W. Morrison Dean, University of Toyota

"First, Break All the Rules is nothing short of revolutionary in its concepts and ideas. It explains why so many traditional notions and practices are counterproductive in business today. Equally important, the book presents a simpler, truer model complete with specific actions that have allowed our organization to achieve significant improvements in productivity, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and profit."–Kevin Cuthbert Vice President, Human Resources, Swissôtel

"Finally, something definitive about what makes for a great workplace."–Harriet Johnson Brackey Miami Herald

"Within the last several years, systems and the Internet have assumed a preeminent role in management thinking, to the detriment of the role of people in the workplace. Buckingham and Coffman prove just how crucial good people -- and specifically great managers -- are to the success of any organization."– Bernie Marcus former Chairman and CEO, Home Depot

"The rational, measurement-based approach, for which Gallup has so long been famous, has increased the tangibility of our intangible assets, as well as our ability to manage them. First, Break All the Rules shows us how."–David P. Norton President, The Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, Inc.; coauthor of The Balanced Scorecard

"As the authors put it, "a great deal of the value of a company lies between the ears of its employees." The key to success is growing that value by listening to and understanding what lies in their hearts -- Mssrs. Buckingham and Coffman have found a direct way to measure and make that critical connection. At Carlson Companies, their skills are helping us become the truly caring company that will succeed in the marketplace of the future."–Marilyn Carlson Nelson President and CEO, Carlson Companies --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish I could remember how I first came to hear of this book. I would love to thank the person or journalist who recommended it.
My paperback copy, now around two years old, is covered in highlighter pen, plastered in post-it notes and is referred to again and again. My boss bought copies for everyone in our office on my recommendation and I've recommended it to dozens of managers that I've worked with and coached.
It just makes sense. First there's Gallup's research pedigree (in this case more than a million interviews over twenty five years), then there's the concept: if you want to know how the world's greatest managers get exceptional performance from their people, don't ask the managers - ask the people.
From all this research, Gallup have distilled the essence of great management (arguably, great leadership) into 12 questions. If your employees can answer positively to all 12 questions, then you will have built a great place to work and will undoubtedly have highly motivated, highly productive people.
What makes this such a great book (in addition to the above) is the writing style. It's not dry research findings, it's fascinating snippets of conversations, analogies, humour and a compelling argument.
This turns conventional management wisdom on its head in a very refreshing way. It also says 'there's no standard for Great Manager that you have to try to be. Anyone can do it if they get these fundamental building blocks in place' (the 12 questions).
If you buy this book, I would also highly recommend the follow up 'Now, Discover Your Strengths' to gain further insights into how you can tap more of your own potential and more of those around you at work.
If you manage people, or aspire to, you must read 'First, break All The Rules'.
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Format: Paperback
This book is provocative and it challenges conventional wisdom in people management.
Gallup's thorough research presented in this book reveal the "Four Keys of Great Managers" that should unlock the potential of each and every employee (the "... not" statements represent conventional wisdom according to the authors)
1. When selecting someone, they select for talent ... not simply experience, intelligence, or determination.
2. When setting expectations, they define the right outcomes ... not the right steps.
3. When motivating someone, they focus on strengths ... not on weaknesses.
4. When developing someone, they find him the right fit ... not simply the next rung on the ladder
So great managers don't believe that a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They don't try to help a person overcome his weaknesses (instead they devise a support system. Find a complementary partner. Or find an alternative role). They consistently disregard the golden rule - i.e. treat people as you would like to be treated - instead they acknowledge that each employee is unique and thus would demand different things of you, the manager! And they even play favourites (i.e. spend the most time with your best people).
Many of us know by experience that it is hard to manage others well. Continually, you have to balance the competing interests of the employee, the customer, the company, and even yourself. You attend too much to one, and you invariably upset the others.
This book cannot make the manager's role easier. But it certainly provides you with some brilliant insights into effective people management. The book's Four Keys should be inspiring for any people manager, even if you do not accept all of their findings.
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Format: Paperback
Given how many business management books there are, it is refreshing to see a research-based attempt to link specific aspects of management theory to company performance.

As a manager, I found this book to be helpful in backing up some things that made intuitive sense and in challenging some basic assumptions I had. It's a very positive way of thinking about how you bring out the strengths of the individuals on a team.

No book has the answers. This one has some thought-provoking findings that I've used to improve the way I manage.
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Format: Paperback
This book explains the rationale and research behind the Gallup organisation's 12 question staff engagement survey. It takes about 250 pages to do that using a few repetitive examples.

I found the book quite helpful but not particularly insightful. The lessons can be boiled down to the following:

Sort out the 12 questions from base to summit priority. Get the basics sorted out first.
1 Base Camp: What do I get?
 Do I know what is expected of me
 Do I have all have the materials and equipment I need to do my work properly
2 What do I give?
 Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
 In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise the good work.
 Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person.
 Is there someone at work who encourages my development.
3 Do I belong here?
 At work, do my opinions seem to count.
 Does the mission of my company make me feel my job is important
 Are my co-walkers committed to doing quality work
 Do I have a best friend at work
4. Summit: How can we all grow?
 This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow

People don't change much, so don't waste time trying to put in what was left out. Just try to draw out what was left in.

Talent is any recurring patterns of behaviour that can be applied productively.
- A product of individual filters and response to stimuli; set by early teens through synaptic highways that are cleared and others that are abandoned.
- Talent is not knowledge or skill.
o Knowledge is when you're aware of facts and experiences and have reflected upon them.
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