First Break All The Rules Book Summary & Quotes on How to Be a Great Manager

By April 13, 2023 May 28th, 2023 Self Management Tips

Last Updated on May 28, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

Gallup is an organization renowned for its in-depth research. In the book First, Break All the Rules, two researchers, Marcus Buckingham, and Curt Coffman, present the remarkable findings of a massive in-depth study on how to be a great manager. They polled 80,000 managers at 400 different companies to discover what sets the truly great apart from the rest.

A well dressed man bends the jail cell bars and breaks all of the rules

Qualities of a Great Manager

As Buckingham writes, “People leave managers, not companies.” So a lot is riding on the quality of your management. As the book’s title suggests, the authors found that great managers tend to break all the rules. This means they aren’t afraid to defy conventional wisdom or standard advice when their team benefits.

When examining how to be a great manager, there are four standard guidelines that Buckingham and Coffman identified in a majority of rockstars. They are as follows:

  1. Hire employees for their talent, not their experience. If an employee has talent, it comes naturally to them or is something they’ve taken the time to nurture. Both are more valuable than experience. Anyone can learn the ropes and work a job, but not everyone has what it takes to excel.
  2. Evaluate performance based on overall outcomes, not individual tasks. Bad managers get caught up in micromanaging the minutiae even when an employee is hitting or surpassing their performance metrics. If the result is good, you can loosen up on how to get there.
  3. Don’t look at people as something to fix. Coffman writes, “People don’t change that much. Instead of putting in what God left out, try drawing out what God left in!” You will succeed more by focusing on an employee’s strengths than weaknesses. Everyone will always have imperfections, but their strengths can be balanced if given the proper attention.
  4. Find the right fit for your employees’ talents. Don’t risk losing a talented employee because the job duties are not an exact fit. Instead, you can shuffle responsibilities around on your team until each person has a role that suits their skills.

First Break All the Rules: 12 Questions

The research eventually found that 12 questions can accurately measure employee engagement at an organization. Therefore, the most vital managers work to foster an environment where their employees can positively answer these 12 questions.

Quoted straight from First, Break All the Rules, here are the 12 questions. Consider how your employees would answer each question as you consider being a great manager.

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have suitable materials and equipment to do my work?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. Have I received recognition or praise for doing good work in the last seven days?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me?
  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. Has someone at work told me about my progress in the last six months?
  12. Have I had opportunities at work this last year to learn and grow?”

To learn how to be a great manager, you should ask yourself how to make your employees feel valued. Talent is the best investment you can make as a business. Finding ways to address the content of these 12 questions is a great way to show your talent that you care.

Inspired by this First, Break All the Rules summary? Want more great tips for managers? Click here to schedule a free video call with a professional business coach to work on becoming a great manager.

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