Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of The Gallup Organization present the remarkable findings of their massive in-depth study of great managers across a wide variety of situations in their book “First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.”
Some of the managers were in leadership positions, and other were front line supervisors.
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 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. This research — which initially generated thousands of different survey questions on the subject of employee opinion — finally produced the 12 simple questions that work to distinguish the strongest departments of a company from all the rest.
In my opinion, these 12 questions give a bright insight into how to manage people. I will examine each question one by one.
The first question: “Do I know what is expected of me at work?” People perform their best when they have clear objectives. Without a clear objective, they cannot make progress.
The second question: “Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?” Every employee should have the necessary materials and equipment so they can have no excuse for failing to do a good job. According to motivation guru Frederick Hertzberg, hygiene factors into the workplace and a lack of sufficient hygiene cause dissatisfaction. The third question: “At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?” A person cannot show his ability to drive when s/he has no car. So, one of the most important factors of performance in the workplace is the availability of the opportunity.
The fourth question: “In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?” The scarcest resource in the workplace is the recognition of employees. People need praise and recognition as much as water and as food. Even a simple “thank you” can motivate people.
The fifth question: “Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?” We are human beings and we have emotions; we are not machines. So, we want to feel that our managers remember this reality. When making a decision, a manager should consider that we have families and are sensitive creatures.
The sixth question: “Is there someone at work who encourages my development? In my personal view, one of the best motivators is the opportunity for development. People realize that their own development is more important than money and they look for training options and opportunities to gain experience.
The seventh question: “At work, do my opinions seem to count?” The opportunities for personal contribution are very important for many people. This is because, if they can contribute, they feel that they are valuable; if they cannot, they feel they are worthless.
The eighth question: “Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?” James Collins and Jerry Porras, two management gurus, claim that companies’ main goal should be more than profit. The profit is a consequence of a meaningful service. People want to work for companies that have meaningful missions.
The ninth question: “Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?” The social environment at work is also important. Like minds are best fit for a work environment.
The 10th question is not an unusual one: “Do I have a best friend at work?” If your best friend is at your workplace, it is a place where you want to be. People run home after work because there is a split between their work life and their personal life. The 11th question: “In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?” Feedback is very important. Without it we cannot understand how we perform. The final question: “This last year, have I had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?” As I mentioned earlier, people look for opportunities for development, and they want to see evidence of it.
Even the book’s title, “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently,” does not break any rule in management. Clear goals and objectives, a significant vision, development opportunities, constructive feedback and opportunities to contribute are typical concepts in management. However, what is important in this book is that this management mantra is supported by a survey of 100,000 people