First Break All The Rules - What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. (The Measuring Stick!)

Based on in-depth interviews with more than 80,000 managers at all levels (and in companies of all sizes), the Gallup Organization’s Buckingham and Coffman reveal in this summary what great managers do differently from ordinary managers to coax a world-class performance out of their workers. 


Great managers, write the authors, routinely break all the rules. 

They take the conventional wisdom about human nature and managing people and turn it upside down. In this summary, you will learn which conventional wisdom to ignore. 

First, you will find a simple list of twelve questions that will help you assess whether your workplace is the kind of place that will attract and keep the best employees. 

You will then learn the four keys for unlocking the potential of each and every one of your employees. The first key is to select employees based on talent rather than experience or intelligence. 

This summary will help you learn what talent is and why you can’t create it from scratch. 

The second key is to evaluate performance-based on desired outcomes rather than direct control over the way a worker performs his or her job. You will learn how to define outcomes so performance can be measured and tracked.

The third key to great management is to reject the conventional wisdom that people can be fixed. Focus on strength, the authors urge, not on weaknesses. You will learn how to manage around weaknesses.
First Break All The Rules - The Measuring Stick!
First Break All The Rules - The Measuring Stick!
The fourth and final key is to find the right fit for your employees’ talents. Again, you will learn to avoid the conventional wisdom that promotion is the only just reward for high performance - mindset that creates an organization where everyone is ultimately promoted to their level of incompetence.

Today, more than ever, employers realize they must find and keep top talent for every role. 

And the approach many of them are taking is to offer an array of carrots to keep employees happy and around. The problem is that carrots in the form of perks are expensive and may not accomplish their purpose. 

Carrots don’t distinguish between great performers, mediocre performers or poor ones. Your job, of course, is to attract and keep top performers. Unfortunately, the measures you and your company are using to determine if you are succeeding may not accurately reflect what is really happening. You need a new measuring stick. 

That stick is an assessment of the strength of your workplace. 

Through an extensive survey, the Gallup Organization has isolated the 12 characteristics of a strong workplace as that work is seen through the eyes of the most successful and productive employees. 

If employees can answer each of the following 12 questions affirmatively, you have a strong workplace, a workplace where the best want to work and stay.


1. Do I know what is expected of me at work? 

2. Do I have the equipment and material I need to do my work right? 

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day? 

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work? 

5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person? 

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development? 

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my work is important? 

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work? 

11. In the last six months, have I talked to someone about my progress? 

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow? 

As a manager, it is your job to make sure employees can respond with a resounding yes to these dozen questions. 

If they can, you likely have a strong workplace capable of attracting and keeping top performers at every level from the bottom to the top. You probably noticed that there are no questions about pay, benefits, senior management or organizational structure on the list. The reason is that those are important to every employee, good, bad or mediocre. 

Therefore, they aren’t a true measure of a healthy and strong workplace. A workplace with nothing but low-performing employees but an excellent benefits plan would fare very well on a survey, but the survey responses would say nothing about how well the company attracts and keeps the best.

And therein lies the folly of the “best places to work” type surveys. Just because a place is a good place to work doesn’t mean it will attract good workers. It may be a popular but weak workplace. To test this theory, The Gallup Organization surveyed 2,500 business units. 

After assessing their productivity, profitability, retention levels and customer ratings, employees were asked to answer the 12 questions. Consistently, the companies that ranked highest in the four measures of success had workers who answered the questions affirmatively and emphatically. That is, the best business units had more workers respond that they strongly agreed with each of the 12 questions while the worst business units had fewer workers respond that way. 

There was a clear link between employee opinion and business unit performance. Managers are the key to a strong workplace. Managers who create an environment where workers can answer the questions positively are the managers who will attract and retain the best.


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One of the primary goals of Oudney Patsika is to use media to change the cultural narrative. He aims to impact today’s culture with more accurate, responsible, and positive media stories about Christianity and the Church. Get In Touch Today!
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