Reviewed by Bentley Worthy
Based on over 1 million surveys gathered by Gallup polls during the 1980s, social scientists found that 12 key points of managing emerged from the data. Three relate to the ability to do the job based on knowledge and the work environment: I know what is expected of me at work, I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right, at work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day and my associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work. Five relate to emotional needs: in the last seven days I have received recognition or praise for doing good work, my supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person, at work my opinions seem to count, the mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important and I have a best friend at work. Finally, the last four relate to personal development and growth: in the last six months someone at work has talked to me about my progress, this last year I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow and there is someone at work who encourages my development.
The twelve points were initially published by Wagner and Harter in First, Break All the Rules in 1999. Combing insights based on psychology, brain-imaging, genetics and other scientific disciplines, with ten times the original amount of data, 12: The Elements of Great Managing provides more in-depth knowledge of what makes a great manager. Each chapter presents an element with an explanation and example of a manager that transformed a company by exemplifying that principle. The book focuses on treating individuals with respect and providing them with an environment in which they can thrive. The authors present what employees need to be most productive and demonstrate how those requirements can be met rather than establishing many rules a manager must follow.
This approach covers all of the basic needs of employees: an environment that provides the worker with necessary equipment, emotional support, and opportunity for growth and development. In the book, a critique of The Principles of Scientific Management by Frederick Taylor is used to point out the errors of treating people as merely cogs in a corporate machine. The approach places value on each individual’s talents and opinions. While there are multiple examples for each principle, many still seem out of reach for some organizations, especially those with limited budgets. The hospital that had a retreat to bring the technicians and nurses together is not always possible time or money wise. Despite this, most of the elements are easy to execute and understandably greatly impact the productivity of the workforce. Sincerely listening to comments, helping workers grow and giving them the means to accomplish their tasks are basic points that represent the ease of implementing these ideas.
While many management books present formulaic procedures to achieving a desired goal, in contrast, this one gives examples of how to put into action the knowledge the authors provide. This approach can either be beneficial or detrimental depending on how managers choose to accomplish each element. The book even jokes about a manager who commands his employees to work through the book by studying each element for one month, and how ridiculous the sixth month will be when they work on making their opinions count. If the manager is not working to improve conditions, employees will continue to be disengaged at work, costing the company more and more money. However, because there are no strict guidelines of how to put these needs into actions, managers can work at their own pace to increase productivity and cooperation using the principles as a guide.
I would recommend this book to other PR students. It gives an idea of what people are looking for in a work environment and how those needs can be addressed. As a PR professional, interacting with many people from different areas of the company is essential. By forming close bonds with them, through some of the twelve elements, a more fruitful workplace can be established. Feeling like your opinion matters is desired wherever you are, having someone that cares about your development fosters a drive to do better and knowing what is required is essential to achieving goals. These and other elements can be met by the PR person in a company, especially larger corporations where employees might receive morning emails or perhaps have managers that are not willing to listen to opinions or nurture growth. Productivity is vital to any organization, having someone who understands what will motivate workers is a crucial, highly valued component.