In this week’s reflection of “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, we are going to discuss the final chapter and final thoughts I have of the book as a whole.


One of the main focuses of the final chapter revolves around the art of interviewing for talent. The authors break down this objective into a five-step process.


The first, make sure that the talent interview stands alone and is separate from other aspects of the interviewing process. Both the manager and the interviewee should understand that this interview is exclusively reserved for learning about the interviewee’s talents. The talent interview’s sole purpose is “to discover whether the candidate’s recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior match the job.


The second, ask a few open-ended questions and then try to keep quiet. Open-ended questions allow the candidate to take his answer in a number of different directions. It allows the manager or interviewer an opportunity to evaluate the response. Things such as how quickly a candidate comes up with an answer, how they relate it to previous experiences and how consistent their answers are with other information gathered about the candidate prove to be valuable when evaluating whether the candidate may be a good fit for the job. It is important for the manager to remain quiet and not guide the candidates answer in a “right” direction.


The third, listen to the specifics of the answer. This builds off of step number two. The authors state that “past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior.” So asking open-ended questions regarding past experiences can help give managers a better idea of what type of employee the candidate has been in the past and will most likely be in the future. Listening for specific examples or experiences is important because in most cases if a candidate can clearly recall certain experiences then it is likely that the behavior associated with that experience is a recurring behavior for the candidate. Again, this allows a manager to formulate a better understanding of the type of employee the candidate will be.


The fourth, look for any clues that tell you about the candidate’s talents. The book describes rapid learning ability and personal satisfaction as two of the most important ones to fish for.


The fifth, know what to listen for. Only ask questions to which you know how top performers would respond.



Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is in a managerial role or would like to be in the future. It provides a lot of insight into some best practices for the role of manager. I really enjoyed reflecting on past experiences, both as an employee and as a manger, while reading through this book. I was better able to understand the faults of some of the poor managers I have worked for as well as the strength of the excellent ones I had the pleasure of working with. It certainly has me self-evaluating my own managerial skills and learning that each employee will require different forms of leadership in order to turn their unique talents into performance.

“The Fourth Key: Find the Right Fit” (Chapter 6)


In this week’s reflection of “First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Buckingham and Coffman, we are going to discuss the importance of helping employees find the right role and continuing to incentivize them to excel in those roles over a long period of time.


The chapter begins by laying out the issues associated with employees “climbing the ladder” within an organization. Many employees are motivated to work hard for the next promotion, the higher salary or the more respected role within an organization. Unfortunately, in many cases, these sorts of incentives tend to pull employees out of a role they thrive in and put them in roles where their talents don’t align with the responsibilities.


“Some roles performed excellently are more valuable than roles higher up the ladder performed averagely.”


For example, you may have an outstanding sales representative who gets “promoted” into a managerial role. Just because that individual has mastered his craft at sales and has proven to be a very productive salesman, does not necessarily mean that he will enjoy or have the talents to master the art of managing a team of sales representatives.


Another example the book uses is the hierarchy of the education system. In theory, a principal is more valuable to a school than one individual teacher. It is natural for a teacher to have career aspirations of moving up in an administrative role that offers a higher salary and commands more responsibilities. However, promoting one of your brilliant teachers into a mediocre principal makes the system and everyone involved become less productive. Why not find a way to incentivize a brilliant teacher to continue to excel in their role and feel as though their hard work is being rewarded without feeling that need to jump to the next rung of the ladder which may not be the best fit for their talents?


The authors of the book offer a few solutions to help managers navigate the issues of “where do I go from here” that they hear from employees. The umbrella piece of advice is to create heroes in every role. You’ll always have some people who aim to climb the conventional ladder, but it is important for great managers to help employees see that the jump to a new position is not the only way to achieve respect, prestige, and personal career satisfaction especially if the jump moves you away from utilizing your talents.


The most intriguing philosophy discussed in this chapter is that of broadbanding. Broadbanding is described by the authors as “For each role, you define pay in broad bands, or ranges, with the top end of the lower-level role overlapping the bottom end of the role above.


“For example, at Merrill Lynch, the top end of the pay band for financial consultants is over $500,000 a year. In contrast, the bottom end of the branch manager role is $150,000 a year. This means that if you are a successful financial consultant and you want to move into a manager role, you might have to endure a 70% pay cut. The upside for the novice manager is that the top end of the manager pay band runs into the millions.”


I like this idea of broadbanding because it really makes an individual consider if a career shift is the right move for them. Sure, they may want the $1,000,000 paycheck, but will their talents fit the requirements of the role and allow them to reach that status? If not, they run the risk of making significantly less than they do in a role they currently excel at.


In summary, great managers, if possible, should find ways to help their employees achieve career satisfaction by creating heroes in every role. Encourage employees to take the next step up the ladder if their talents align with the role and incentivize employees to continue to excel and become masters of their current role if that role best suites their talents.