Feb 212007

Book Short: Next, Write a Sequel

Book Short:  Next, Write a Sequel

Written by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter and billed as “the long awaited sequel to First, Break All the Rules” (one of the best management books I’ve ever read), I thought 12: The Elements of Great Managing, was good, but not great.  12…, along with the original book First… and Now, Discover Your Strengths, the latter two both by Marcus Buckingham, are all based on an extensive database of research done on corporate America by the Gallup organization over many years.  All three are valuable reads in one way or another, although I found this to be the weakest of the three.  (Note that Now… is different from the other two in that it’s not about management, it’s about self-management — very different, though based on the same research.)

Anyway, the elements of great managing, so say the authors, is all about creating employee engagement.  I totally buy into that.  And since no book short on 12… would be complete if it didn’t list out the 12…

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 every day?
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 opportunities at work to learn and grow?

The book fleshes out each of the 12, gives examples (some of which are better/clearer than others), and then addresses compensation in a very interesting chapter at the end.  Key takeaways on comp:

– Higher pay doesn’t guarantee greater engagement
– Good and bad employees are equally likely to think they deserve a raise
– Money without meaning isn’t enough
– Most employees, most of the time, feel undercompensated
– Individual pay can/should be private, but comp criteria should be very public
– People who feel well-compensated generally work harder

The book also cites a very provocative article suggesting that organizations would handle comp better if they made everyone’s comp public (in contrast to the final bullet above, yes).  I’m going to write more about compensation in future postings, so I’ll leave this section on those notes.

Finally, the book’s two closing thoughts are perhaps its most prescient:  one critical element of BEING a great manager is HAVING a great manager; and the managers who put the most into their people, get the most out of their people.