• A Necessary Evil – Book Review

    Book coverWhen you first open a new book, you wonder where it is going to go.  Well  “A Necessary Evil” was no different, but this work took a very different twist compared to any book I have ever read. First of all, I had met the author, Aliah Wright before I undertook to read the book.  Naturally I was excited to hear what she had to say.

    The next quirk began on page two, I actually knew a person (Janine Truitt) who is being quoted.  This trend continued throughout the book,  All of the people quote, referenced, or otherwise mentioned in the book are REAL PEOPLE, many of whom I have met, and would consider them friends.  While this may be amusing to me, I suppose that is not really enough to get anyone to buy the book.  So I need to delve into the content and the material covered in the book.
    I found the book to be an excellent introduction into social media use in the workplace.  It is directed at people who would like to, or who need to learn more about social media use in the workplace. So if you come down in the camp of shut it down, lock it down and don’t allow anyone to use Facebook or text at work, save your money and just continue with your head in the sand, we will see how that works out for you long term, ugh!
    But if you are interested in learning about how to manage your way through some of the conundrums that social media will present the book is a quick read and an excellent resource.  Ms. Wright calls on people who actually deal with these issues routinely.
    On page 99,  we hear from Paul Smith, a working HR professional. Paul talks about his views on use of social media in the workplace.  Paul deals with this  matter week in and week out.  Paul represents his organization in developing sound policies to deal with social media use at work.  His views are pragmatic and practical, and if you want to know more you could find Paul on twitter, on Facebook or on his blog and without a doubt he will speak to you.
    Throughout the book there are concrete examples of things that a manager should know about social media use.   Tweets can be programmed and sent out at later times.  If you don’t know this, Mr. Manager, you could end up with egg on your face.  I recall the first time I saw one of my schedule tweets flash before my eyes, I thought, that is weird, I just tweeted into cyberspace, but I wasn’t on my computer at the time.
    The book is well referenced and has a through index, which makes it an excellent resource.  I found it hard to put the book down.  I highly recommend it.  This should be in every HR pros library.
  • First Break All the Rules Review

    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.