First, Break All the Rules – Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman Book Summary

First, Break All the Rules – Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman | Free Book Summary

First, Break All the Rules – Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman

This book is a result of an exhaustive study undertaken by the Gallup organization exploring the concepts of employee satisfaction, selecting and maintaining good employees, and means of measuring employee satisfaction. The approach was revolutionary when published and has become a business classic because it challenged the status quo.

Breaking The Status Quo

First Break All the Rules asserts that the status quo is counterproductive and encourages management to adopt innovative approaches to employee engagement.

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There are four keys to unlocking potential in your employees: select for talents; suggest outcomes rather than direct control of the process; focus on your employees’ strengths and work around their weaknesses; and finally, find the right fit for your employees.

The Three Types Of Talent

The Why Of A Person

Striving talents explain the ‘why’ of a person: what motivates them, do they want to stand out, and is ‘good enough,’ good enough for them?Free book, podcast summaries

The How Of A Person

Thinking talents explain the ‘how’ of a person: how they think, their decision-making processes, are they focused, disciplined, strategic or non-linear in thinking.

The Who Of The Person

Relating talents to the ‘who’ of a person: who do they trust, who they build relationships with, do they avoid confrontation or have a desire to win people over? Do they love or hate surprises?

Intangible skills That Cannot Be Taught

We all possess talents within the context of these categories. It is important to recognize that talents can’t be taught, they can only be cultivated and encouraged within the work roles assigned to that person. Skills, on the other hand, can be taught.

As managers, we need to be aware of underlying talents and work with them rather than against them.

The Four Temptations That Hinder Growth

Create “perfect people”  by imposing a “best way” attitude and that you have the right answers. This is disempowering, and demeaning and prevents self-exploration and learning.

  • Believe that employees don’t have enough talent, which can be true, but not if your hiring criteria are critically based on talent rather than selecting for other strengths.
  • Believe that “trust is precious; it must be earned.” Great managers must reject the concept of earning trust.
  • Believe that “some outcomes defy definition” such as abstracts like employee satisfaction and customer feedback.

What Great Managers Do

  • Select people. Differentiate between talent, skills and knowledge
  • Set accurate performance expectations
  • Motivate (recognition and care)
  • Develop the employee 
  • Managers look inward, leaders look outward. 

The Four Keys

  • Select for talent (not simply for experience, intelligence, or determination)
  • Define the right outcomes (not the right steps)
  • Focus on strengths (not on weaknesses)
  • Find the right fit 

Defining The Right Outcome: The Rules

  • Employees must follow certain required steps for all aspects of their role that deal with accuracy and safety
  • Employees must follow steps when they are part of a company or industry standard
  • Required steps are useful only if they do not obscure the desired outcome.

Managing Performance

Develop a performance management routine to keep focused on the progress of each person’s performance.

Routines are:

  • Simple.
  • Frequent (not all criticism at once; recent examples; results and problems fresh in memory).
  • Focused on the future.

Ask the employee to keep track of his own performance and learning in a private document.

Basic Routine Questions

  • What did you enjoy most about your previous work experience? 
  • What brought you here? What keeps you here?
  • What do you think your strengths are? Your weaknesses?
  • What about your goals for your current role?
  • Do you have any personal goals or commitments you would like to tell me about?

Career Check Discovery Questions

  • How would you describe success in your current role? can you measure it?
  • What do you actually do that makes you as good as you are? what does this tell you about your skills, knowledge and talents?
  • Which part of your current role do you enjoy the most?
  • Which part of your current role are you struggling with?

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