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Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Now business books aren't my usual cup of tea, but a while back this one was recommended on the excellent Ask A Manager blog and it intrigued me as it's actually based on a huge survey and real scientific correlation and on thousands of interviews, like an academic study would be, as opposed to just one person's thoughts on management, which I don't like. The book is a little older (1998) although most of it holds up and doesn't feel dated. This giant study was performed by the Gallup Organization (and they certainly do know how to survey people!) Of tens of thousands of managers, correlating different management issues with costs and profits, to find the traits and techniques that stay consistent over thousands of companies and fields.

Thanks to all the anecdotes, the book read easily and kept my interest. It also was helpful to see the management points in action. I also really liked the list of important questions that determine employees' happiness at work, and then the book broke down what management could do in regards to most of them (one of them is "I have a best friend at work" and obviously, a manager can't impact that.) One major point that is both common sense but often overlooked is that your manager is the number one (and really only) thing that determines if you like your job or not. If you have a great manager at a shitty company, you can be happy, and if you work at a great company in a job you love but with a shitty manager, you can be miserable. The book purports to be for managers to explain how they can make employees productive and happy, but it's also a great insight for lower-level employees to understand what questions are most important to ask when interviewing, to know what to look for in a manger, and also of course to prepare for the eventual day when they too will be managers. Overall, a readable, useful, and interesting business book. Who knew it was possible? Now I'll be even more disappointed in other business books.

I bought this book at my local used bookstore.

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