March 12, 2007

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: Growing Great Employees

By: Jack @ 2:49 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers by Erika Andersen, Portfolio, 288 Pages, $24.95 Hardcover, December 2006, ISBN 9781591841517
Management is a well-traveled path on the road of business books. Good to Great and Now, Discover Your Strengths have captured the attention of executives for the last five years (and two permanent positions on last year's Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller List). I think these books best address management at an organizational level, but this month, I want to point you to something a little more tactical.
Growing Great Employees is a how-to manual for managers, written by executive coach Erika Andersen. The book is written for managers who want to get better at what they do. As you page through the book, you'll see that the content and layout reinforce that goal. You'll find short sections with lists that offer instantly applicable advice. There is a workbook aspect with numerous "Try It Out" sections, and each chapter ends with a "Big Ideas" summary which you can use to review (or preview) the material.
The breadth of subjects Andersen covers in the book indicates just how wide-ranging the skills are that good managers need. She starts with the importance of listening, writing good job descriptions and hiring the right people. From there she moves onto managing as a coach, using the "Social Styles" model to understand reports and giving timely and effective feedback. The book closes with chapters on coaching others to be good coaches, delegating tasks properly and treating management as a skill to be mastered.
Growing Great Employees uses a gardening metaphor from start to finish illustrating what managers/gardeners should be doing for optimal growth. The metaphor worked really well for me given my shared joy of gardening, but the book offers more than just an effective metaphor. Management really is a process of planting, tending to, and watching employees grow, and Growing Great Employees is "miracle grow" for your business.