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First Break All the Rules asserts that the status quo is counter productive, and encourages management to adopt innovative approaches to employee engagement.
There are four keys for unlocking potential in your employees: select for talents, suggest outcomes rather than direct control of process, focus on employees strengths and work around weaknesses, and finally find the right fit for your employees.
As a manager, it is your responsibility that your employees reply with an emphatic “yes” to the 12 questions. Positive responses to these questions were strongly correlated to profitability, productivity, employee retention, and customer satisfaction.
If you can generate positive responses to these questions then you have the ability to attract and retain quality employees. The importance of influential perks, pay, or a charismatic CEO was not established in the author’s research.
Normally we associate talent with celebrated excellence. Great managers disagree with this definition of talent. It is too narrow and too specialized.
Instead they define talent as a recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior than can be productively applied. The emphasis here is on the word recurring. Your talents, they say, are the behaviors you find yourself doing often
Great managers know that every role in a workplace requires talent because there are recurring patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Managers that are able to select for these patters will have more harmonious results on their team.
One of the biggest mistakes managers make is selecting for other factors like experience or intelligence, and ignore required talents (for example, empathy is a required trait for nurses).
We all possess talents within the contexts of these categories. It is important to recognize that talents can’t be taught, they can only be cultivated and encouraged within the work roles assigned to that person. Skills, on the other hand, can be taught (i.e. typing speed, surgical techniques, software etc.).
This does not mean entirely that people can’t change over time, but as managers, we need to be aware of underlying talents and work with them rather than against them.
High performing managers understand that trying to achieve direct control of employees is futile and that trying to change people’s natural talents will not work. The solution is both simple and elegant: define a required outcome and then let the employee find their own way forward, through a path of least resistance.
The most efficient way to turn someone’s talents into performance is to help him find his own path of least resistance towards the desired outcome.
Managers look inward, leaders look outward.
Employees must follow certain required steps for all aspects of their role that deal with accuracy and safety
Employees must follow steps when they are part of a company or industry standard
Required steps are useful only if they do not obscure the desired outcome.
Clues to talent:
Know what to listen for. Know what the top answer is (e.g. top salespeople hate to be doubted, top teachers love it)
Develop a performance management routine to keep focused on the progress of each person's performance.
Ask the employee to keep track of his own performance and learnings in a private document.
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This book is a result of an exhaustive study undertaken by the Gallup organization involving 80,000 managers across a large number of industries exploring the concepts of employee satisfaction, selecting and maintaining good employees, and means of measuring employee satisfaction. The approach was revolutionary when published (1999) and has become a business classic because it challenged the status quo.
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