A Book Review of “12”

To my knowledge, the book “12 The Elements of Great Managing” by Rodd Wagner & James K. Harter, PH.D. is the first of it’s kind to provide proof that the soft stuff of management really counts in business. Their findings are based on Gallup’s ten million workplace interviews and should be the basis for a complete overhaul of our approach to management.

Element #1. Job Clarity.
“Substantial gains on the First Element alone often correlate with productivity gains of five to 10 percent, thousands more happy customers and 10 to 20 percent fewer on-the-job accidents.”

Element #2. Ensuring employees have the materials and equipment they need to do their work well.
“Managers with bottom quartile Second Element scores average 20 to 40 percent higher employee attrition than top quartile managers, representing millions of dollars in direct and indirect turnover costs.”

Element #3. Matching the person to the right job.
“...each individual is not a lump of clay being dramatically reshaped by events around him, but has a durable personality. He has his weaknesses; he has his talents. And the better a manager can help him recognize and utilize his innate talents, the more effective he will be.”
“A personnel strategy based on talents creates concrete financial advantages.”
“On average, a workgroup led by a strengths advocate was almost twice as likely to create above-average results as one led by a manager biased toward patching up problems. A recent study found organizations focused on maximizing the natural talents of their employees increased engagement levels by an average of 33 percent per year, equating to an average net gain of $5.4 million in productivity per organization over the enterprises using more traditional methods.

One on one every two or three months. What do you do best? What do you like about your job?

Element #4. Recognition and Praise
“... high performing teams had 5.6 times more positive than negative comments, were inquiring, and achieved a balance between comments about themselves and comments about others.”

“Because of its power, ridiculously low cost and rarity, the Fourth Element is one of the greatest lost opportunities in the business world today.

Element #5. Someone at Work Cares About Me as a Persons
“In high-turnover companies, workgroups in the lowest quarter of the “someone at work cares about me” statement average 22 percent higher turnover than their top-quartile counterparts.”

Element #6. Someone at Work Encourages My Development
“A mere 1 percent of those who have no mentor are able to achieve real engagement with their employer through the strength of the other 11 elements. Conversely, two-thirds of employees who report having someone at work who encourages their development are classified as “engaged,” while one-third are “not engaged” and less than one percent are “actively disengaged.”

Element #7. My Opinions Seem to Count
“Nearly half of employees who say their opinion counts at work also feel their current job brings out their most creative ideas. Among those who are neutral or negative on the Seventh Element, only 8 percent feel their creativity is well employed.

...improving the proportion of employees with high Seventh Element scores from one in five to one in three has a substantial impact on customer experience, productivity, employee retention and safety, all of which create, on average, a 6-percent gain in profitability.

Incorporating employee ideas pays back twice. First, the idea itself often is a good one. Second and equally powerful, that the idea comes from the employees themselves makes it much more likely they will be committed to its execution. Welcoming employee opinions also produces greater feelings of inclusion among workers.”

Element #8. Connection With the Mission of the Company
“The Eighth Element of Great Managing is captured by the statement, “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.”

...business units in the top quartile of Gallup’s engagement database on this element average from 5 to 15 percent higher profitability than bottom-quartile units. Mission-driven workgroups suffer 30 to 50 percent fewer accidents, and have 15 to 30 percent lower turnover.”

Element #9. Coworkers Committed to Doing Quality Work
“The many companies’ performance data matched to Ninth Element scores show that people who feel part of a solidly committed team are routinely safer, better with customers, less likely to quit, and more productive.”

“Whoever is the lowest sets your standard, no matter what you say to the contrary.”

Element #10. A Best Friend at Work
This element predicts performance.

“Business units in the top quartile on this element achieve profitability a full percentage point or two higher than that of bottom-quartile, unfriendly environments.

In the service industries, the customer ratings of workgroups with strong Tenth Element levels are 5 to 10 percent higher than those of impersonal or acrimonious groups, explaining the difference between success and failure in many organizations.”

Element #11. Talking About Progress
“The research found that a manager who focuses on his employees’ strengths essentially inoculates them from being actively disengaged. Those who focus on weaknesses get more polarized results; the strategy rarely works as well as a more positive view, but the manager gets credit for at least “focusing” on the individual.

...the Eleventh Element turns out to be particularly powerful in driving productivity and safety. Business units in the top quartile on this element realize 10 to 15 percent higher productivity and 20 to 40 percent fewer accidents than bottom-quartile business units.”

Element #12. Opportunities to Learn and Grow
“On average, business units in the top quartile on the Twelfth Element surpass their bottom-quartile counterparts by 9 percent on customer engagement and loyalty measures, and by 10 percent on profitability.

© Copyright Bob Cannon/The Cannon Advantage, 2008. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Cannon turns managers into leaders who enhance performance and profitability in their organizations. Check out other interesting articles available in the Taking Aim newsletter available at www.cannonadvantage.com. Bob can be reached at (216) 408-9495.

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