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12: The Elements of Great Managing

by Rodd Wagner, James K. Harter

Gallup Press, 280 pages, $17.13

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Any manager faced with a challenge and looking to turn around their team's performance will be bolstered by 12: The Elements of Great Managing. It's a follow-up to the wildly successful First Break All the Rules and the content is distilled from Gallup's 10 million employee and manager interviews. The best thing about this book is that it speaks to supervisors in many different managing facets. Whether you are at a small company, managing remotely or in charge of a large team, you'll find insights relating to increasing productivity and keeping people engaged on the job.

The chapters begin with a situation where a company has problems with one of the 12 Elements (turnover, profitability, attendance, etc.) then the authors present their discoveries in that area. According to Wagner and Harter, "The First Element of Great Managing is job clarity" or knowing what is expected of you. Managers must communicate this to individual workers in a way that they will understand. More importantly, they must be able to understand how what they do relates to what other team members are doing. The book equates it with jazz band members listening to what others are playing before they can play effectively.

Percentages and data are peppered with specific business stories that humanize the numbers. For example, the seventh Element is "My Opinion Seems to Count" and the chapter explores the effects of disenfranchised workers who are undervalued by supervisors or colleagues. A hospital "turf war" between techs and nurses perfectly illustrates the need for workers to be respectful of others' roles.

One criticism of management books is that they contain entertaining stories, but the content is too subjective and not supported by data. 12: The Elements of Great Managing doesn't have this shortcoming. Taking the enormous amount of interviews would be impressive enough, but the ability to make the information dovetail perfectly with company performance is astonishing. Investing the time in this book will pay off for managers looking to understand and inspire their teams to greatness.

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