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If you haven't read First, Break All the Rules, I have good news for you: Just read this book instead. 12: The Elements of Great Managing is a better book.

If you have read First, Break All the Rules, chances are it was a long time ago. You are probably ready for a refresher if you read that book back in 1999 or 2000 as I did.

As before, the Gallup people have asked that reviewers not list the 12 elements. I think they are overly sensitive, but I'll honor their request.

Let me characterize the 12 elements instead: Each point relates to either a necessity for being able to do your job well, having a sense that people care that you come to work, feeling engaged by your work, and seeing a future in what you are doing. Employees who feel engaged in these dimensions usually stay longer, are less likely to be out sick, and perform at higher levels of productivity. After you see the list, you'll accept those conclusions, I'm sure.

Since the first book came out, Gallup has done a lot more interviews. One of the benefits of all hose millions of additional interviews is to provide extra information about how and why each element is important. I was pleased to see that the authors also draw on psychological and physiological research to help explain their findings.

But the best parts, for me, were the 12 case studies that were like mini-fables of the sort that Ken Blanchard likes to write . . . except these cases involve real people. The leaders make mistakes as well as do things right, and you get a sense of how hard it is to improve performance in an important employee dimension when your organization has been doing it badly for some time. One of the things I liked best about the cases was that the authors didn't go overboard by just presenting organizations that perform in the top 1 percent that wouldn't seem quite real to most people.

I also liked the section at the end about how pay overlaps with all of the other findings. Most people are affected by their pay, and I thought that the authors put that into perspective quite well.

Although part of the message is that you need Gallup surveys to figure out what your problem is with employee engagement, the book is tactfully quiet on that point. Nice!

Although you may be tempted to either just read the list and feel like you've got it or just read the cases in areas where you think you have problems, I encourage you to read all of the material. You might get a new assignment tomorrow that will look totally different from where you are today. That happened to several people in the book. You'll be better prepared when that happens.

I thought that First, Break All the Rules was better than an MBA education on how to be an effective leader. This book is probably better than most DBA educations on the same subject.

Be engaging!
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on 20 January 2009
The Gallup Organization has studied employment and management issues for decades. Rodd Wagner and James Harter distill its findings into 12 pivotal concepts that managers can use to develop and keep great employees. These range from creating strong teams to managing them so that they support corporate goals. getAbstract lauds the way the authors illustrate their points with real-life examples. They show how and why managers implement each of the 12 factors, which are usefully broken down into business cases. The 12 principles are nicely interconnected. Each one explains a way to provide employees with direct management support. This means guaranteeing their loyalty to your firm by giving their jobs a context, providing a culture that supports their friendships, offering them clear career paths, and creating opportunities for them to grow and develop as people and employees. The authors explain why salary does matter, but also why it is not the most crucial aspect of employee management. They demonstrate how the worst managers view everything in financial terms, whereas the best managers give of themselves to support their people.
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on 3 November 2010
This book is an illustrative review to what do the 12 Gallup survey questions mean. Therefore inconjunction with the gallup survey process it is an essential read to understand the 'American' phrased questions, such as, 'do you have a best friend at work'. which throws the Brits! Getting under the skin of these questions with these practical illustrations shows the added value to performance improvement that an engaged workforce can deliver, if the leadership team will take the initiative with some humility. Worthwhile read if using Gallup survey and or looking at how to engage a workforce.
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Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman's First, Break All the Rules, was published in 1999. In it, they discuss twelve crucial statements (Q12®) to which millions of workers had responded in surveys conducted by The Gallup Organization during the previous 25 years. Then in 2006, Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter's 12: The Elements of Great Managing was published. (Both are Gallup principals.) As they explain, these statements comprise "the 12 Elements of Great Managing...Behind each of these is a fundamental truth about human nature on the job. The correlations between each element and better performance not only draw a roadmap to superior managing; they also reveal fascinating insights into how the human mind - molded by thousands of years foraging, hunting, and cooperating within a close-knit and stable tribe - reacts in a relatively new, artificial world cubicles, project timelines, corporate ambiguity, and changing workgroup membership." The question Terry poses is a critically important one. In my opinion, the best answer to it is provided by the twelve crucial statements (Q12®). I will not provide a list of them because I have not obtained written consent of The Gallup Organization to do so. However, I can strongly recommend First, Break All the Rules and then 12: The Elements of Great Managing in which there is rigrous and comprehensive discussion of them.

One "crucial imperative" for C-level executives in most organizations is to achieve and then sustain high employee engagemen. Consider these statistics based on recent Gallup research: 29% of the U.S. workforce is positively engaged (i.e. loyal, enthusiastic, and productive) whereas 55% is passively disengaged. That is, they are going through the motions, doing only what they must, "mailing it in," coasting, etc. What about the other 16%? They are "actively disengaged" in that they are doing whatever they can to undermine their employer's efforts to succeed. They have a toxic impact on their associates and, in many instances, on customer relations. These are indeed stunning statistics and reasons for them vary from one organization to the next. However, most experts agree that no more than 5% of any given workforce consists of "bad apples," troublemakers, chronic complainers, subversives, etc. As readers work their way through one or both books, they should keep in mind what Jeffrey Pfeiffer and Robert Sutton characterize as "the knowing-doing gap." Obviously, knowing and understanding the twelve crucial statements are quite different from converting that knowledge into effective action. In collaboration with their research associates at Gallup, Rod Wagner and James Harter explain how.

More specifically, they offer a mini-case study in which they provide a scenario to increase employee engagement with effective management if each of the 12 "crucial statements. The exemplar managers and their affiliations (at the time when this book was written) comprise an especially impressive diversity: Nancy Sorrels (Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Marriott South), Enio Wetten (manager of the Owens Corning fiberglass facility in Rio Clara, Brazil), Klaus Welte (a Stryker vice president and plant manager, Freeburg, Germany), Elzbieta Gorska-Kolodziejczyk (manager of an International Paper warehouse in Kwidzyn, Poland), Larry Walters (manager of a Qwest Communications call center in Idaho Falls, Idaho), Pete Wamsteeker (manager of a Cargill operation in West Branch, Iowa), Susan Jewell (managing director of Diagnostic Imaging at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children), Mike Boldrick (manager of a Cabela's store in Wheeling, West Virginia), Eric Taverna (manager of Best Buy's Store 484 in Manchester, Connecticut), Dr. Suresh Nagesh (manager of DaimlerChrysler Vehicle Engineering and Quality in Bangalore, India), Philippe Lescornez (manager of a division of Mars, Masterfoods, in Brussels, Belgium), and Simon Gaier (a B&Q store manager in Wrexham, Wales). I have listed these exemplary managers to suggest both the diversity of those on whom Wagner and Harter focus but also to emphasize that they focused on managers among those receiving the highest rating re the critically important element they personify, not in theory but in day-to-day performance. For example, according to closest associates in the given workplace,

To show the associates that they were really appreciated, "We put the same amount of time and effort into the back-of-the-house restrooms as we put into the front-of-the-house restrooms. [Nancy Sorrells] "really does have the best interests of the customers and employees at heart."

Led by Enio Wetten, "the team at Rio Claro has built a strong level of employee engagement. They have learned that while they may not be able to rely on the [source of electrical] power, they can rely on each other, particularly in an emergency...O time veste a camina! [The team wears the jersey!]"

To calm an associate's fears and increase his self-confidence, Pete Wamsteeker told him, "I want you to be a prize fighter. I want you to get out and fight a bit on your own. I don't mind of you get knocked down a few times. But you've got to have the confidence I'm never going to let you get knocked out."

Philippe Lescornez "always calls his people in the car. He speaks with everyone at least once a week, often more. When people move to his team, at the beginning they need to adapt because he phones them all the time: `How are things going? How are you? Everything OK?' New hires sometimes complain `He's always behind me,' until they realize he calls because he cares. It's feedback, feedback, feedback all the time."

Working for [Simon Gaier], I loved going to work. I loved being in work. I loved all the stuff that we were doing. Results were getting produced and he was very supportive. He gave me l0ads of confidence and I felt like I could do stuff. I suppose he gave me back the thing that it wasn't me; it was just maybe the situation I was in before."

These are but a few of hundreds of excerpts I could have selected. They help to explain not only what and why but how the exemplary managers consistently demonstrate one or more of the elements of great managing that were revealed in more then ten million interviews conducted by Gallup. What about bottom-line impact? "Company performance starts with the most basic act: showing up for work. Engaged employees average 27 percent less absenteeism than do those who are actively disengaged. In a typical 10,000 person company, absenteeism from disengagement costs the business about 5,000 lost days per year at a cost of $600, 000 in salary paid where no work was performed. Managers who maintain higher levels of engagement in their teams spare their companies the cost of what are sometimes euphemistically called `mental health days.'"

Congratulations to Rodd Wagner, James Harter, and their Gallup associates for this brilliant achievement. To say that their insights and recommendations are "research driven" is an understatement of almost epic proportion. Better yet, their insights and recommendations are directly relevant to all organizations, whatever their size and nature may be. The concluding remarks leave no doubt about that. "The managers who are best at getting the most from people are those who give the most to them. Those who create the greatest financial performance start with the least pecuniary motivations. They work hard to do the right thing for their people, and they end up doing well. That is the heart of great managing."

It is no coincidence that most of the companies annually ranked among the best to work for are also ranked among those most profitable. All research on employee satisfaction, including Gallup's, indicates that feeling appreciated and believing in the value of the work to be done are most important. Compensation? It is seldom ranked in the top ten. All great managers consider it a privilege to serve those entrusted to their care.
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