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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.

First, Break All the Rules

First, Break All the Rules

by Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman


2.24K reads

Breaking The Status Quo

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 c...

  • Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  • Do I have the equipment I need to do my work right?
  • Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  • Have I received recognition for good work?
  • Does anyone care about me as a person?
  • Does anyone ...

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 response...

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 ...

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 s...

  • Striving talents explain the ‘why’ of a person: what motivates them, do they want to stand out, and is ‘good enough,’ good enough for them?
  • Thinking talents explain the ‘how’ of a person: how they think, their decision making processes, are they focu...

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, so...

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, throu...

  • Create “perfect people”  by imposing a “best way” attitude and that you have the right answers. This is disempowering, demeaning and prevents self-exploration and learning.
  • Believe that employees don’t have enough talent, which can be true, but not if your hiring criteria is critical...

  • Select people. Differentiate between talent, skills and knowledge
  • Set accurate performance expectations
  • Motivate (recognition and care)
  • Develop the employee 

Managers look inward, leaders look outward.  

  • Select for talent (not simply for the experience, intelligence, determination)
  • Define the right outcomes (not the right steps)
  • Focus on strengths (not on weaknesses)
  • Find the right fit 

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.

  • Talent interview should stand alone
  • Ask open-ended questions and keep quiet
  • Listen for specifics and top of minds

Clues to talent:

  1. Rapid learning: which roles have you been able to learn quickly? What comes easy now?
  2. What do you find fulfilling?...

Develop a performance management routine to keep focused on the progress of each person's performance.

Routines are:


  • Frequent (not all criticism at once; recent examples; results and problems fresh in memory).
  • Focused on the future.

Ask the e...

  • What did you enjoy most about your previous work experience? 
  • What brought you here? what keeps you here?
  • What do you think your strengths are? Your weaknesses?
  • What about your goals for your current role?
  • Do you have any personal goals or commitments you woul...

  • How would you describe success in your current role? can you measure it?
  • What do you actually do that makes you as good as you are? what does this tell you about your skills, knowledge and talents?
  • Which part of your current role do you enjoy the most?
  • Which part of y...

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created 7 ideas

How do companies –– in different countries and industries –– all achieve breakthrough performance when the odds are stacked against them? The answer: By applying The Three Laws of Performance and thereby re-writing their futures. Authors Steve Zaffrron and Dave Logan crack the code on rewriting the future for people and organizations, elevating performance to unprecedented levels.



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