Summary and book reviews of First Break All The Rules by Curt Coffman

First Break All The Rules

What The World's Greatest Managers Do Differently

By Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman

First Break All The Rules
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  • Hardcover: May 1999,
    255 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2004,
    320 pages.

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About this Book

Book Summary

The greatest managers in the world seem to have little in common. They differ in sex, age, and race. They employ vastly different styles and focus on different goals. Yet despite their differences, great managers share one common trait: They do not hesitate to break virtually every rule held sacred by conventional wisdom. They do not believe that, with enough training, a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They do not try to help people overcome their weaknesses. They consistently disregard the golden rule. And, yes, they even play favorites. This amazing book explains why.

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup Organization present the remarkable findings of their massive in-depth study of great managers across a wide variety of situations. Some were in leadership positions. Others were front-line supervisors. Some were in Fortune 500 companies; others were key players in small, entrepreneurial companies. Whatever their situations, the managers who ultimately became the focus of Gallup's research were invariably those who excelled at turning each employee's talent into performance.

In today's tight labor markets, companies compete to find and keep the best employees, using pay, benefits, promotions, and training. But these well-intentioned efforts often miss the mark. The front-line manager is the key to attracting and retaining talented employees. No matter how generous its pay or how renowned its training, the company that lacks great front-line managers will suffer. Buckingham and Coffman explain how the best managers select an employee for talent rather than for skills or experience; how they set expectations for him or her -- they define the right outcomes rather than the right steps; how they motivate people -- they build on each person's unique strengths rather than trying to fix his weaknesses; and, finally, how great managers develop people -- they find the right fit for each person, not the next rung on the ladder. And perhaps most important, this research -- which initially generated thousands of different survey questions on the subject of employee opinion -- finally produced the twelve simple questions that work to distinguish the strongest departments of a company from all the rest. This book is the first to present this essential measuring stick and to prove the link between employee opinions and productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, and the rate of turnover.

There are vital performance and career lessons here for managers at every level, and, best of all, the book shows you how to apply them to your own situation.

Contents

Introduction: Breaking All the Rules

Chapter 1: The Measuring Stick

A Disaster Off the Scilly Isles
"What do we know to be important but are unable to measure?"
The Measuring Stick
"How can you measure human capital?"
Putting the Twelve to the Test
"Does the measuring stick link to business outcomes?"
A Case in Point
"What do these discoveries mean for one particular company?"
Mountain Climbing
"Why is there an order to the twelve questions?"

Chapter 2: The Wisdom of Great Managers
Words from the Wise
"Whom did Gallup interview?"
What Great Managers Know
"What is the revolutionary insight shared by all great managers?"
What Great Managers Do
"What are the four basic roles of a great manager?"
The Four Keys
"How do great managers play these roles?"

Chapter 3: The First Key: Select for Talent
Talent: How Great Managers Define It
"Why does every role, performed at excellence, require talent?"
The Right Stuff
"Why is talent more important than ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Miami Herald - Harriet Johnson Brackey

Finally, something definitive about what makes for a great workplace.

Newsday

If you're a manager wracking your brain for ways to find and retain good people...this book is worth paying attention to.

Detroit Free Press

At last, a management book with a huge amount of statistical evidence...the results are eye-popping...this is one of the best, most practical books I've seen on managing.

Booklist - Mary Whaley

Although this is clearly an infomercial for the Gallup Organization, it nevertheless offers thoughtful advice on the essential task of developing excellent managers.

Author Blurb Jeffrey Pfeffer Professor, Stanford Business School and author of The Human Equation Building Profits by Putting People First
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.

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

Author Blurb Kevin Cuthbert Vice President, Human Resources, SwissĂ´tel
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.

Author Blurb Bernie Marcus former Chairman and CEO, Home Depot |
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.

Author Blurb David P. Norton President, The Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, Inc.; coauthor of The Balanced Scorecard
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.

Author Blurb Marilyn Carlson Nelson President and CEO, Carlson Companies
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.

Author Blurb Michael W. Morrison Dean, University of Toyota |
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.

Reader Reviews
businessreader

Before you Break the Rules - find out who wrote them.
This book was a good read but I found it a little contradictory. On one page it said not to spend time on your non-productive employees and on the next it highlighted a story of how a manager took a problem employee and turned them around. How do ...   Read More

jesper

Great researched based book that challenges traditional management theory. Well written and simple, easy to understand concepts.

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