I didn’t enjoy this one so much, although there were a few tidbits that I think I can use again.
The first is a simple strategy for hiring for both technical skill and “fit.” It requires a clear delineation of the values necessary to success in the organization and position, such as honesty, integrity, teamwork, customer focus and work/life balance. In the phone interview, quiz them on the technical skills. Make sure they are as good on the phone as they look on paper. But in the in-person interview forget technical skills and focus entirely on the fit, asking open-ended, situation-based questions to see if they demonstrate the same values. I’m going to do that the next time I have to hire someone.
The second is a fun little reward mechanism called “Be the Best.” Once a quarter ask each team member to submit one other person’s accomplishment that impressed them. Read these submissions over and award a winner, giving them an extra day off or something similar. It gives you a chance to see accomplishments you’ll probably never otherwise see, and it gives everyone a chance to recognize their teammates.
The third is an interesting way to think about work/life balance, which is attributed to someone named Brian Dyson from Coca-Cola. Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them—work, family, health, friends, and spirit—you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls—family, health, friends, and spirit—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. It will never be the same. You must understand that.
And the fourth is the following description of people in Generation X:
While the X-ers do not offer “blind” loyalty to a company, they can be fiercely loyal to a project, a team, a boss they like, the mission of the organization, and, yes, even the organization itself. But that loyalty is based on the notion of mutuality. As long as they are challenged, growing, and enjoying the work—and as long as you are getting what you want and need from them—they’ll stay. When that partnership weakens or the scales tip to one side, they’ll be outta there!
They also want balance between work and their personal lives. They have boundaries, and they use those boundaries effectively. That doesn’t mean they won’t put in the occasional all-nighter when it’s needed. But don’t expect they’ll do that for the next 20 years. Many feel that one of the greatest gifts of this generation to the rest of us is introducing the expectation of work/life balance. They don’t live to work. They work to live.
You know, I’ve always eyed this generation stuff a little skeptically, but I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken about me. The first paragraph describes exactly what happened to me the last two times I changed jobs. And I can’t read the second paragraph without thinking about a former boss and the way she killed the work/life balance item from the list of ideal staff qualities we were developing.
So those four things were good. The rest of the book was either junk or stuff so common sensical that it seemed strange to think of people who would have to read them in a book to understand them.
And I hate it when books like this force its points into some arbitrary convention. Here there are twenty-six strategies, one beginning with each letter of the alphabet. As if that obeys some kind of universal law of language and management. What if I find another strategy not covered here? Will we need to invent another letter of the alphabet? In fact, how do I know there isn’t a twenty-seventh strategy, and you didn’t include it because there are only twenty-six letters in the alphabet? And are there really twenty six? Some of them seem kind of similar. Maybe you stretched twenty of them out to cover the whole alphabet. Why do they do these things? Does it sell more books?