My blogging buddy and I were talking recently about the books that we were reading and decided we should write about them. Laura was reading Rise by Patty Azzarello,  while I was reading FIRST Break all the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Corrman.  I have not written a book review for a long time. I am actually excited about doing this. You can read Laura’s review hereif you like.

Now onto First Break All the Rules.  You might wonder why would I even be reading a book with a 1999 copyright. It is a good question with a fairly simple answer.  I had been working on a presentation on employee engagement and performance management.  It seemed like everywhere I went quotes from the same book First Break All the Rules kept coming up.  Without much further research I could not help but notice that it was co-authored by non-other than Marcus Buckingham.  At the time it was published I have to think that he was living in utter obscurity compare to his life today, as he is now getting big bucks for speaking engagements.  Regardless I was still curious as I had a chance to hear him speak at a 2010 SHRM Conference.

The book was a good quick read and it is still hugely relevant today when it comes to understanding employee engagement. Unbeknownst to me Buckingham worked for the Gallup Organization early in his career.  The book is the result of a study conducted where the authors interviewed 80,000 managers, of some of the countries top companies (at the time).   They were trying to distill down to the essences of what made a great organization and keeps employees at the highest level of engagement.  After the interviews were completed they distilled the matter down to these 12 questions.  (taken directly from the book)

  • Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  • Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  • At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  • In the last seven days, have I received recognition for praise for doing good work? 
  • Does my Supervisor of someone at work , seem to care about me as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  • At work, do my opinions count>
  • Does the mission/purpose of my Company make me feel my job is important?
  • Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  • Do I have a best freind at work?
  • In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
  • This last year I have had opportunities to work, to learn and grow?


If the employee could respond STRONGLY AGREE (5)  on a scale of 1 to 5 for each of the 12 questions then there is no doubt that thier workplace if filled with highly engaged employees, according to the authors.

The rest of the book goes to support this12-question hypothesis. And as I had said earlier there is a wealth of information supporting this theory as well on great ways to move your organization in this direction.

There was one particular line in the book which was ironic, if not even false based upon what we know today.  The authors were discussing sucess stories and they talked about how MicroSoft had beat out Steve Jobs and Apple, essentially saying that  Apple was no longer relevant.  Oh well, things change.

It is still a great book and if you can pick it up like I did for about $5 it is well worth it.  Someday when I get a Kindle or an Ipad I will be able to read that way, but in the meantime the old yellowed pages still work just fine.