In First, Break All the Rules, Gallup presents the remarkable findings of its massive in-depth study of great managers—those who excelled at turning each employee’s talent into performance.
The world’s greatest managers differ in sex, age, and race. They employ different styles and focus on different goals. Despite their differences, great managers share one trait: They break virtually every rule conventional wisdom holds sacred. They don’t believe that, with enough training, a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They don’t try to help people overcome their weaknesses. They disregard the golden rule. They even play favorites.
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. This amazing book explains how the best managers select employees for talent rather than for skills or experience, how they set expectations, how they motivate people, and how they develop people.
Gallup’s research—based on 80,000 managers in 400 companies—produced twelve simple questions that distinguish the strongest departments of a company from the rest. First, Break All the Rules introduces this essential measuring stick and proves the link between employee opinions and productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, and rate of turnover.
Description taken from Goodreads.
When reading this book, I was reminded of Stephen King’s phenomenal On Writing for two reasons.
The first is that this book had many gems to it that make it well worth the read.
In fact, most of the way through the book, I was planning on doing a post like I did for On Writing with the top ten things I learned from the book. For a few different reasons, I ended up not doing that (mostly because I found much more criticism with this book than King’s work), but all the same, there were many highlights.
If I could only point out a few places where you should definitely read, I would point out the beginning. In particular, chapters one and two. Chapter 7’s “The Art of Interviewing for Talent” section is great too. These were the tightest parts of the book for me and offered up the most helpful advice, though the book (which I keep on saying because I don’t want to even make an acronym for that title) is littered with gems, all backed by great research.
The second is that the title isn’t the only thing about this book that needs to be shorter.
Not that King’s On Writing needs a shorter title, but that First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently generally needs to be (and could be much shorter). Yes, there are gems to it, but those gems are buried in piles of repetition and reinforcing. Some of this reinforcing is justified as the majority of it serves to present and interpret the immense amount of research conducted to write this book. However, much of it is also not necessary. The over-reiteration of important points only served to weaken the points as I read the book.
The ironic piece in all of this is that King starts his book with three or four pages on his dedication to one of his best pieces of advice: omit needless words. If this book did that, it would be perfect.
And all in all, would I recommend it?
This review is shorter than many others, mostly because this isn’t typically the genre I read. I’ve been branching into adult fantasy, realistic fiction, and nonfiction as of late though, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my reading tastes are maturing over time. We’ll see. As for now, I would recommend this one, or at least read a summary of it.
For those of you who can afford to spend a few hours reading a book, this one is as good as any. It’s interesting, well-researched, and thought-provoking.
For those of you who would rather not read the entire thing, a summary works well to provide the overarching ideas within. Or you could always skim it, which I ended up doing for some of the middle chapters.
Overall, my only complaint stems from the writing, but that’s not going to stop me from doing a reread. There’s a lot to be learned about management, and this is a great place to start. 3.5 stars.