Unformatted text preview: FIRST
BREAK ALL THE RULES
WHAT THE WORLD'S GREATEST
MANAGERS DO DIFFERENTLY
BASED ON IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS BY THE GALLUP ORGANIZATION OF OVER 80,000 MANAGERS IN OVER 400 COMPANIES-THE LARGEST STUDY
OF ITS KIND EVER UNDERTAKEN MARCUS BUCKINGHAM
& CURT COFFMAN U.S. $27.00
Can. $42.00 T h e greatest managers in the world seem to
have little in common. They differ in sex, age,
and race. They employ vastly different styles
and focus on different goals. Yet despite their dif
ferences, great managers share one common trait:
They do not hesitate to break virtually every rule
held sacred by conventional wisdom. They do not
believe that, with enough training, a person can
achieve anything he sets his mind to. They do not
try to help people overcome their weaknesses. They
consistently disregard the golden rule. And, yes, they
even play favorites. This amazing book explains why.
Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the
Gallup Organization present the remarkable find
ings of their massive in-depth study of great man
agers across a wide variety of situations. Some were
in leadership positions. Others were front-line
supervisors. Some were in Fortune 500 companies;
others were key players in small, entrepreneurial
companies. Whatever their situations, the managers
who ultimately became the focus of Gallup's
research were invariably those who excelled at
turning each employee's talent into performance.
In today's tight labor markets, companies com pete to find and keep the best employees, using pay,
benefits, promotions, and training. But these wellintentioned efforts often miss the mark. The front line manager is the key to attracting and retaining
talented employees. No matter how generous its
pay or how renowned its training, the company that
lacks great front-line managers will suffer.
Buckingham and Coffman explain how the best
managers select an employee for talent rather than
for skills or experience; how they set expectations
for him or her—they define the right outcomes
rather than the right steps; how they motivate peo
ple—they build on each person's unique strengths
rather than trying to fix his weaknesses; and,
finally, how great managers develop people—they
find the right fit for each person, not the next rung
on the ladder. And perhaps most important, this
research—which initially generated thousands of
(continued on back flap) "Out of hundreds of books aboutimproving organizational performance,
here is one that is basedon extensive empirical evidence and a bookthat
focuses on specific actions managers can take to make their organiza
tions better today! In a world in which managing people provides the
differentiating advantage, First, Break All the Rules is a must-read."
—Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford Business School and author of
The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First "This book challenges basic beliefs of great management with powerful
evidence and a compelling argument. First, Break All the Rules is essen
—Bradbury H. Anderson, President and COO, Best Buy
"This is it! With compelling insight backed by powerful Gallup data,
Buckingham and Coffman have built the unshakable foundation of ef
fective management. For the first time, a clearpathway has been identi
fied for creating engaged employees and high-performance work units.
It has changed the way I approach developing managers. First, Break
All the Rules is a critical resource for every front-line supervisor, middle
manager, and institutional leader."
—Michael W. Morrison, Dean, University of Toyota "First, Break All the Rules is nothing short of revolutionary in its con
cepts and ideas. It explains why so many traditional notions and prac
tices are counterproductive in business today. Equally important, the
book presents a simpler, truer modelcomplete with specific actions that
have allowed our organization to achieve significant improvements in
productivity, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and profit."
—Kevin Cuthbert, Vice President, Human Resources, Swissotel "Finally, something definitive about what makes for a great workplace."
—Harriet Johnson Brackey, Miami Herald
"Withinthe last several years, systems and the Internet have assumed a
preeminent role in management thinking, to the detriment of the role
of people in the workplace. Buckingham and Coffman prove just how
crucial good people—and specifically great managers—are to the suc
cess of anyorganization."
—Bernie Marcus, former Chairman and CEO, Home Depot "The rational, measurement-based approach, for which Gallup has so
long been famous, has increased the tangibility of our intangible assets,
as well as our ability to manage them. First, Break All the Rules shows
us how." —David P. Norton, President, The Balanced Scorecard
Collaborative, Inc.; coauthor of The Balanced Scorecard "As the authors put it, 'a great deal of the value of a company lies be
tween the ears of its employees.' The key to success is growing that
value by listening to and understanding what lies in their hearts—
Mssrs. Buckingham and Coffman have found a direct way to measure
and make that critical connection. At Carlson Companies, their skills
are helping us become the trulycaring company that will succeedin the
marketplace of the future."
—Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Presidentand CEO, CarlsonCompanies First,
What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
and Curt Coffman Simon & Schuster ±
SIMON & SCHUSTER Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020 Copyright © 1999 by The Gallup Organization
All rights reserved,
including the rightof reproduction
in wholeor in partin any form.
Simon & Schuster andcolophon areregistered trademarks
of Simon & Schuster Inc. Designedby Pagesetters
Manufactured in the United States of America
35 37 39 40 38 36 34 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
First, breakall the rules: whatthe world s greatest managers do differently /
Marcus Buckingham andCurt Coffman.
p. cm. 1. Executive ability. 2. Management. 3. Executives—Attitudes.
4. Employees—Attitudes. 5. Employerattitude surveys.
6. Employee attitude surveys. I. Coffman, Curt. II. Tide.
III. Tide:What the world's greatest managers do differendy.
HD38.2.B83 1999 658.4'09—dc21 99-19452
ISBN 0-684-85286-1 To Janie, whofoundwhat was always there Contents Introduction: Breaking All the Rules 11 Chapter 1: The Measuring Stick
A Disaster Off the Scilly Isles
"What do we know to be important but are unable to measure?" 21 The Measuring Stick
"How can you measure human capital?" 25 Putting the Twelve to the Test
"Does the measuring stick link to business outcomes?" 30 A Case in Point 37 "What do these discoveries meanfor one particular company?"
"Why is there an order to the twelve questions?" 42 Chapter 2: The Wisdom ofGreat Managers
Words from the Wise 53 "Whom did Gallup interview?" What Great Managers Know
"What is the revolutionary insight shared by allgreat managers?" 56 What Great Managers Do
"What are thefour basic roles of a great manager?" 58 The Four Keys
"How do great managers play these roles?" 66 Chapter 3: The First Key: Select for Talent
Talent: How Great Managers Define It
"Why does every role, performed at excellence, require talent?" 71 8 Contents The Right Stuff
"Why is talent more important than experience, brainpower,
and willpower?" 72 The Decade of the Brain 79 "How much ofa person can the manager change?"
Skills, Knowledge, and Talents
"What isthe difference among the three?" 83 The World According to Talent
"Which myths can we nowdispel?" 93 Talent: How Great Managers Find It
"Why are great managers so good at selectingfor talent?" 99 A Word from the Coach 105 "John Wooden, on the importance oftalent" Chapter 4: The Second Key: Define the Right Outcomes
Managing by Remote Control
"Why is it so hard to manage people well?" 109 Temptations 112 "Why do so manymanagers tryto control their people?"
Rules of Thumb 121 "When and howdo great managers rely on steps?"
What Do You Get Paid to Do? 133 "How do you know ifthe outcomes are right?" Chapter 5: The Third Key: Focus on Strengths
Let Them Become More of Who TheyAlready Are
"How do great managers release each person's potential?" 141 Tales of Transformation 144 "Why is it so tempting to try to fix people?"
Casting Is Everything
"How do great managers cultivate excellent performance
so consistently?" 148 Manage by Exception
"Why do great managers break the Golden Rule?" 151 Spend the Most Time with Your Best People
"Why do great managers playfavorites?" 153 Contents How to Manage Around a Weakness
"How do great managers turn a harmful weakness into an 9 164 irrelevant nontalent?" Chapter 6: The Fourth Key: Find the Right Fit
The Blind, Breathless Climb 177 "What's wrong with the oldcareer path?" One Rung Doesn't Necessarily Lead to Another
"Why do we keep promoting people to their level
Create Heroes in Every Role
"How to solve the shortage of respect" 182 Three Stories and a New Career 193 184 "What is theforce driving the New Career?" The Art of Tough Love
"How do great managers terminate someone and
still keep the relationship intact?" 206 Chapter 7: Turning the Keys: A Practical Guide
The Art of Interviewing for Talent
"Which are the right questions to ask?" 215 Performance Management 222 "How do great managers turn the last three Keys every day,
with every employee?" Keys of Your Own
"Can an employee turn these Keys?" 230 Master Keys
"What can the company do to create afriendly climate
for great managers?" 235 Gathering Force 239 Appendices:
APPENDIX A: The Gallup Path to Business Performance 245 "What is the path to sustained increase in
shareholder value?" 10 Contents APPENDIX B: What the Great Managers Said 249 "What did great managers say to the three questions quoted in
APPENDIX C: A Selection ofTalents 251 "Which talents are found mostfrequently across all roles?"
APPENDIX D: Finding the Twelve Questions 253 "How did Gallup find the twelve questions?"
APPENDIX E: The Meta-analysis
"What are the details ofthe meta-analysis?"
269 INTRODUCTION Breaking All the Rules
The greatest managers inthe world do not have much incommon. They
are of different sexes, races, and ages. They employ vastly different
styles and focus on different goals. But despite their differences, these great managers do share one thing: Before they do anything else, they
first break allthe rules of conventional wisdom. Theydo not believe that a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They do not try to
help aperson overcome his weaknesses. They consistently disregard the
Golden Rule. And, yes, they evenplay favorites. Great managers are revolutionaries, although few would use that
word to describe themselves. This book will take you inside the minds of these managers to explain why they have toppled conventional wis
dom and reveal the newtruths theyhave forged in its place. We are not encouraging you to replace your natural managerial style
with a standardized version of theirs—as you will see, great managers
do not share a "standardized style." Rather, our purpose is to help you capitalize onyour own style, by showing you how toincorporate the rev
olutionary insights shared bygreat managers everywhere.
This book is the product of two mammoth research studies under
taken by the Gallup Organization over the last twenty-five years. The
first concentrated on employees, asking, "What do the most talented
employees need from their workplace?" Gallup surveyed over a million
employees from a broad range of companies, industries, and countries.
We asked them questions on all aspects of their working life, then dug
deep into their answers to discover the most important needs de
manded by the most productive employees.
Our research yielded many discoveries, but the most powerful was this: Talented employees need great managers. The talented employee
may join a company because ofits charismatic leaders, its generous ben
efits, and its world-class training programs, but how long that employee 12 Introduction stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his re
lationship with his immediate supervisor.
This simple discovery led us to the second research effort: "How do the worlds greatest managers find, focus, and keep talented employ
ees?" To answer this question we went to the source—large companies
and small companies, privately held companies, publicly traded compa
nies, and public sector organizations—and interviewed a cross section oftheir managers, from the excellent to the average. How did we know
who was excellent and who was average? We asked each company to
provide us with performance measures. Measures like sales, profit, cus
tomer satisfaction scores, employee turnover figures, employee opinion
data, and 360-degree surveys were all used to distill the best managers
from the rest. During the last twenty-five years the Gallup Organization
has conducted, tape-recorded, and transcribed one-and-a-half-hour in
terviews with over eighty thousand managers.
Some of these managers were in leadership positions. Some were
midlevel managers. Some were front-line supervisors. But all of them had one ormore employees reporting to them. We focused our analysis
on those managers who excelled atturning the talent oftheir employees
into performance. Despite their obvious differences in style, we wanted
to discover what, ifanything, these great managers had incommon.
Their ideas are plain and direct, but they are not necessarily simple
to implement. Conventional wisdom is conventional for a reason: It is easier. It is easier to believe that each employee possesses unlimited potential. It is easier to imagine that the best way to help an employee
is by fixing his weaknesses. It is easier to "do unto others as you would
be done unto." It is easier to treat everyone the same and so avoid
charges offavoritism. Conventional wisdom is comfortingly, seductively
easy. The revolutionary wisdom ofgreat managers isn't. Their path is much
more exacting. It demands discipline, focus, trust, and, perhaps most
important, a willingness to individualize. In this book, great managers
present no sweeping new theories, no prefabricated formulae. All they
can offeryou are insights into the nature of talent and into their secrets
for turning talent into lasting performance. The real challenge lies in
how you incorporate these insights into your style, one employee at a
time, every day. Introduction 13 This book gives voice to one million employees and eighty thousand
managers. While these interviews ground the book in the real world,
their sheer number can be overwhelming. It is hard to imagine what
one talented employee orone great manager sounds like. The following excerpt, from a single interview, captures something of both the tone
and the content of our in-depth interviews. As with all the managers wequote, we have changed his name to pre serve his anonymity. We will call him Michael. Michael runs a finedining restaurant owned by a large hospitality company in the Pacific
Northwest. Since Gallup first met Michael fifteen years ago, his restau
rant has been in the company's top 10 percent on sales, profit, growth,
retention, and customer satisfaction. From the perspective of his com
pany, his customers, and his employees, Michael isa great manager. Throughout the book you will hear Michael's comments echoed by
other managers and employees. But rather than pointing out these
echoes, we ask you to make the connections for yourself as you move
through the chapters. For the moment we will simply let Michael speak
for himself. Gallup: Canyou tellus about your bestteam ever?
Michael: You mean my whole team? I have at least thirty people
working here. Gallup: Justtell us about the core ofthe team.
Michael: I suppose my best team ever was my wait staff team a few years ago. There were four ofthem. Brad was about thirty-five, a pro
fessional waiter. Took greatpridein beingthe best waiterin town. He
was brilliant at anticipating. Customers never hadto ask for anything.
The moment the thought entered their mind that they needed more
water, or a dessert menu, Bradwasthere at their shoulder, handing it
to them. Then there was Gary. Gary was an innocent. Not naive, just an in nocent. He instinctively thought the world was a friendly place, sohe was always!smiling, cheerful. I don't mean that he wasn't professional,
'cause he was. Always came in looking neat, wearing a freshly pressed
shirt. But it was his attitude that so impressed me. Everyone liked to
be around Gary. Susan was our greeter. She was lively, energetic, presentedherself
very well. When she first joined us, I guessed that she might lack a lit
tle common sense, but I was wrong. She handled the customers per- 14 Introduction fectly On busy nights she would tell them pleasantly but firmly that
last-minute reservations couldn't be accepted. During lunch some
customers just want to get their order, pay, and leave. Susan would figure this out and lettheir server know that, with this particular cus
tomer, speed was of the essence. She paid attention, and she made
good decisions. Emma was the unspoken team builder in the crew. Quieter, more responsible, more aware ofeveryone else, she would get theteam to
gether before a busy Saturday night and just talk everyone through
the need toput on agood show, to bealert, tohelp each other get out
of the weeds. These four were the backbone ofmy best team ever. I didn't really
need to interfere. They ran the show themselves. They would train
new hires, set the right example, and even eject people who didn't fit.
For a good three years theywere the restaurant.
Gallup: Where are they now?
Michael: Susan, Emma, and Gary all graduated and moved backeast.
Brad is still with me. Gallup: Doyou have a secret to building great teams?
Michael: No, I don't think there is a secret. I think the best a man ager can do is to make each person comfortable with who they are.
Look, we all have insecurities. Wouldn't it be great if, at work, we
didn't have to confront our insecurities all the time? I didn't try to fix
Brad, Susan, Gary, and Emma. I didn't try to make them clones of
each other. I tried to create anenvironment where they were encour aged to be more of who they already were. As long as they didn't
stomp on each other and as long as they satisfied the customers, I
didn't care that theywereallso different.
Gallup: Howdid you get to know thesepeople sowell?
Michael: I spent a lot of time with them. I listened. I took them out for dinner, had a couple ofdrinks with them. Had them over to my
place for holidays. But mostly I was just interested inwho they were.
Gallup: What do you think ofthe statement "Familiarity breeds con
tempt?" Michael: It's wrong. How can you manage people if you don't know
them, their style, their motivation, their personal situation? I don't
think you can. Introduction 15 Gallup: Do you think a manager should treat everyone thesame?
Michael: Of course not. Gallup: Why? Michael: Because everyone is different. I was telling you about Gary
before, how great an employee he was. But I fired him twice. A cou ple oftimes his joking around went too far, and he really jerked my
chain. I really liked him, butI had tofire him. Our relationship would
have been ruinedif I hadn't put my foot down and said, "Don'tcome in on Monday." After each time, he learned a little bit more about
himself and his values, so I hired him back both times. I think he's a better person because ofwhat I did. My firm hand worked with Gary. It wouldn't have worked at all
with Brad. If I even raised my voice with Brad, I would get the exact opposite reaction from the one I wanted. He would becrushed. He'd
shut down. So when I disagree with him, I have to talk quietly and
reason everything through with him quite carefully.
Gallup: Isn't it unfair...
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