First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently is one of those books that would be on the NI official reading list, if we had one. It’s based on a series of Gallup surveys and interviews in which they asked employees hundreds of questions about how satisfied they were with their work environment, and then correlated that with profitability, turnover, and such.
It turns out that happy employees are in fact more productive, and that most of their happiness comes down to their immediate manager. This book is aimed at managers, and the “break all the rules” part means that there’s no one way to manage people – you have to take their personality and abilities into account and handle everyone differently.
Another important point is that people have talents that are fairly unchangeable. I, for example, am terrible at confronting people – I get nervous and fidgety and overly defensive and it leaves me very fragile. Now, if I were to practice confronting people and work on it for a while, I could probably overcome some of these physical side effects, but I would never be great or even good at it.
So the point is figure out what talents your employees have and make sure they’re in a good position to use those talents. This is a big theme of Now, Discover Your Strengths, which I might review someday.
A corollary of this is that not everyone wants to go into management, and you should create a career path for people who are happy and good at what they’re doing now. That way people won’t feel forced to do something they’re not good at to get more money, prestige, etc.
It’s a good book with a bunch of interesting anecdotes. I’d recommend it!