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Book:  First, Break All The Rules

Author:  Jim Harter and Marcus Buckingham

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Harter, J. & Buckingham, M. (2016). First, break all the rules : what the world's greatest managers do differently. New York, NY: Gallup Press.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. The employee’s direct supervisor directly influences turnover. This means that people leave managers, not companies. (pg. 31)|

  2. The best managers provide constant feedback. Whether the meetings last for 20 minutes every month of 60 minutes every quarter, these performance feedback meetings are a constant part of their interaction with each employee. (pg. 221)

  3. The best managers build personal relationships with their people. Not necessarily best friends...but they should go beyond simply having a detailed understanding of an employee’s talents and non-talents. (pg. 223)


Other Key Ideas:

Talented employees need great managers.  Talented employees may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits, and its world-class training programs...but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor. (pg. 7)

When running a great company - everything is measured and every measurement is posted. (pg. 22)​​​

The cost of turnover is about 1.5 times the cost of the former employee’s salary. (pg. 38)

Great managers recognize that each person is motivated differently and that each person has his own way of thinking and his own style of relating to others. Great managers don’t worry about these differences. Instead, they capitalize on them. (pg. 55)

When comparing the Q12 Survey to a 360 Degree Leadership Survey, one advantage of the Q12 survey is how easy it is to administer and to interpret.  Whereas the 360 survey is a much lengthier survey involving many aspects of leadership, the Q12 Survey is much shorter and is more employee and manager friendly.  (pg. 63)

A company should not force every manager to manage his people exactly the same way.  Each manager will, and should, employ his own style. (pg. 65)

Everyone has set points or baseline levels of optimism and pessimism that fluctuate based on the environment they’re in. However, managers will always struggle to change someone’s prevailing attitudes. (pg. 95)

To focus on people and performance, a leader must define the right outcomes and stick to those outcomes religiously.  Once the leader standardizes the required outcomes, he has avoided forcing everyone to follow the same path toward those outcomes.  For example, if a school superintendent can keep focused on his teachers’ student grades and ratings, then he need not waste time evaluating them on quality of their lesson plans or the orderliness of their classrooms.  (pg. 116)

Some employee outcomes are difficult to define.  Sales and profit lend themselves to easy measurement.  While customer service and employee morale are more difficult to measure, they are critical to excellent performance. Just because some outcomes are difficult to define does not mean that they defy definition. If you give it some thought, you will find that even the most intangible aspects of performance can be defined in terms of outcomes. (pg. 126)

The best managers talk with each individual, asking about strengths, weaknesses, goals, and dreams.  They work closely with each employee and they notice things that the employee does. (pg. 162)

Investing in those who struggle is not the best use of your time.  Instead, spend the most time with your most productive employees. When investing in your best employees, make sure to tell them why they are so good, and whey they are a cornerstone of the team’s success.  (pg. 169)

You will have to manage around the weaknesses of each employee. But if, with one particular employee, you find yourself spending most of your time managing around weaknesses, then know that you have made a casting error. (pg. 191)

Researchers scrutinized the careers of world-class performers and discovered that it takes between 10 and 18 years before world-class competency is reached. (pg. 204)

Great managers excel at giving performance feedback.  One executive meetings with each of her 22 direct reports once every quarter. In those meetings she quickly reviews the last three months and then focuses attention to the next three months.  What are their plans and goals? What measurements will they use? (pg. 220)

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