Bolder library recommandation; First, break all the rules

Bolder library recommandation; First, break all the rules

“First break all the rules”  is a management guide based on insights from the research conducted within 25 years across 400 companies, written by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The book brings up a lot of myths in management and tries to get to the essence of how to bring peak performance to your team as a manager. At the same time as it is useful to yourself as an employee.

In the beginning of the book you find a multiple purpose method to measure the health of work place – a list of 12 question which is to help you to assess your workplace or a manager to find out the effectiveness of his/ hers team:

1. “Do I know what is expected of me at work?”
2. “Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?”
3. “At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?”
4. “In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?”
5. “Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?”
6. “Is there someone at work who encourages my development?”
7. “At work, do my opinions seem to count?”
8. “Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?”
9. “Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?”
10. “Do I have a best friend at work?”
11. “In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?”
12. “This last year, have I had opportunities to learn and grow?”

As the book states, those companies that reflected positive responses to the  12 questions profited more, were more productive as business units, retained more employees per year, and satisfied more customers. For managers, this questionnaire may help to understand the climate in his team. For individuals, this assessment may help to understand if he/her is in the right company, as people leave their immediate managers, not the companies they work for.

The book goes through four keys to keep in mind when creating an environment for top performance:

  1. The first key is to select employees based on talent rather than experience or intelligence. The book helps you learn what talent is and why you can’t create it from scratch. A talent is defined in the book as “a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.” So try to answer three questions about the candidate: “why” – what motivates him?”; “how” – how he or she approaches the role, is he or she open to changes or rather follows the rules?; “who” – how he or she cooperates with others: trusting, skeptical, cooperative? When making a choice between potential candidates, do it based mainly on their talents rather than skills and knowledge. Both skill and knowledge can be taught  in contrast to talent.
  2. The second key is to evaluate performance based on desired outcomes rather than direct control over the way a worker performs his or her job. You will learn how to define outcomes so performance can be measured and tracked. Great managers know that people are unique and there is no universal recipe to motivate, reward or set goals. You need to ask about people’s preferences and to tailor the working methods to each individual to find the working solution.
  3. The third key to great management is to reject the conventional wisdom that people can be fixed. Focus on strength, the authors urge, not on weaknesses. You will learn how to manage around weaknesses. You should always devote most of your time to the best employees, while conventional wisdom calls for studying the failures and fixing the bugs. The best managers know that by doing this you will only learn how to fail. You need to study the successful cases in order to know how to perform excellence. Set the right outcomes, not steps. Standardize the end but not the means. 
  4. The fourth and final key is to find the right fit for your employees’ talents. Again, you will learn to avoid the conventional wisdom that promotion is the only just reward for high performance – mindset that creates an organization where everyone is ultimately promoted to their level of incompetence. Promotion to managing positions is not always a good idea for your career development. Being a talented specialist is not the same as being a successful manager. Instead such shift may lead to negative turns.
  5. There are many ways of alleviating a problem or non-talent. Devise a support system, find a complementary partner for him, or an alternative role.


One of the approaches that appealed specifically to Bolder in the book is the focus on accepting diversity: every person is unique in his skills’ and approaches’ set. Since the best solution to any problem doesn’t exist, there are always several ways to reach the goal. You never know which one is the one. All you need is to be sure that you have a talented person in your team and he has access to all the resources required to get there on his own. And if you see that he or she is lacking some knowledge or expertise to do it – just find him a partner that will perfectly complement in this challenge.

The book is higly recommended to anyone that seeks to build a high performing environment.

You can find overview of the main concepts of the book on the official web site of the book HERE.
Those who prefer infographics will enjoy THIS 9 min video with visual review of central ideas.

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