Revisiting “First, Break All the Rules” by Marcus Buckingham

“Do I know what is expected of me at work?”

“In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?”

These are just two of the twelve questions a manager must ask of his employees on a regular basis; not so much for the safety of their jobs, but for his! Ask yourself why you left your last job, or why you’re thinking about leaving your current job, and more than likely it’s the manager you’re leaving, not the job.

One of the more prominent quotes in the book is, “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.” Quite simply, determine what your people are good at and put them in that role. No amount of remedial training is ever likely to make a poor public speaker a good one, it’s just not who they are. Avoid trying to correct their weak points and take full advantage of their strengths. You’ll both be happier.

Another important point made in the book is the delegation of core management responsibilities to other departments. The four core activities of a manager are defined as “selecting a person, setting expectations, motivating him, and developing him.” What do many companies do today? They let human resources (HR) interview and hire staff. They let HR set performance expectations by interviewing people in the role, (as opposed to actually ever spending a day in the role).

These are just a few of the gems in this classic management book. If it’s been a few years since you’ve studied this work, I highly recommend revisiting it to be reminded of what sets average and great managers apart.

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently


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