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Book Summary: First, Break All The Rules


This article is based on the following book:

First, Break All The Rules

‘What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently’

By Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

Simon & Schuster, 271 pages




Based on a mammoth research study conducted by the Gallup Organization involving

80,000 managers across different industries, this book explores the challenge of

many companies - attaining, keeping and measuring employee satisfaction. Discover

how great managers attract, hire, focus, and keep their most talented employees!


Key Ideas:

1.       The best managers reject conventional wisdom.

2.       The best managers treat every employee as an individual.

3.       The best managers never try to fix weaknesses; instead they focus on strengths

1.       and talent.

4.       The best managers know they are on stage everyday. They know their people are

2.       watching every move they make.

5.       Measuring employee satisfaction is vital information for your investors.

6.       People leave their immediate managers, not the companies they work for.

7.       The best managers are those that build a work environment where the employees

3.       answer positively to these 12 Questions:



  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 everyday?
  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 the opportunity at work to learn and grow?


The Gallup study showed that 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.


Without satisfying an employee’s basic needs first, a manager can never expect the

employee to give stellar performance. The basic needs are: knowing what is expected

of the employee at work, giving her the equipment and support to do her work right,

and answering her basic questions of self-worth and self-esteem by giving praise for

good work and caring about her development as a person.


The great manager mantra is don’t try to put in what was left out; instead draw out

what was left in. You must hire for talent, and hone that talent into outstanding



More wisdom in a nutshell from First, Break All the Rules:

1.       Know what can be taught, and what requires a natural talent.

2.       Set the right outcomes, not steps. Standardize the end but not the means. As

1.       long as the means are within the company’s legal boundaries and industry standards,

2.       let the employee use his own style to deliver the result or outcome you want.

3.       Motivate by focusing on strengths, not weaknesses.

4.       Casting is important, if an employee is not performing at excellence, maybe she is

5.       not cast in the right role.

6.       Every role is noble, respect it enough to hire for talent to match.

7.       A manager must excel in the art of the interview. See if the candidate’s recurring

8.       patterns of behavior match the role he is to fulfill. Ask open-ended questions and

9.       let him talk. Listen for specifics.

8.       Find ways to measure, count, and reward outcomes.

9.       Spend time with your best people. Give constant feedback. If you can’t spend an hour

10.   every quarter talking to an employee, then you shouldn’t be a manager.

10.   There are many ways of alleviating a problem or non-talent. Devise a support system,

11.   find a complementary partner for him, or an alternative role.

11.   Do not promote someone until he reaches his level of incompetence; simply offer

12.   bigger rewards within the same range of his work. It is better to have an excellent

13.   highly paid waitress or bartender on your team than promote him or her to a poor

14.   starting-level bar manager.

12.   Some homework to do: Study the best managers in the company and revise training to

15.   incorporate what they know. Send your talented people to learn new skills or

16.   knowledge. Change recruiting practices to hire for talent, revise employee job

17.   descriptions and qualifications.



By: Regine P. Azurin and Yvette Pantilla

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