The truth about managing people …

14. Mai 2016

English, Management

and nothing but the truth“ Robbins, S.P. (2002).

In writing „The Truth about Managing People … And Nothing but the Truth“, Stephen P. Robbins has bridged the gap between research and practice by concisely providing the latest relevant management information. For those new to the field, Robbins is on the short list of contenders as the leading writer in organizational behavior. He is the author/co-author of several texts including the 7th editions of „Essentials of Organization Behavior“ (Prentice Hall, 2003), „Management“ (Prentice Hall, 2002), and „Human Resource Management“ (Wiley, 2002). As described by Robbins, „no short, concise summary of behavioral research [exists] that cuts through the jargon to give managers the truth about what works and doesn’t work when it comes to managing people at work. This book has been written to fill the void.“ Clearly, Robbins does not refer to self-evident truth, but truth as defined by findings from solid research. Each of the 63 chapters or „Truths“ has as its basis research from notable journals such as Harvard Business Review and the Academy of Management.

For those small business leaders and entrepreneurs who start with a clever idea, zeal, and hard work and see their successes have created a new dilemma of needing more people, this book is a must. These entrepreneurs need the facts about managing people, quickly and clearly. The book’s format is well-planned to fit these needs. At less than 200 pages the book is divided into ten parts (Hiring, Motivation, Leadership, Communication, Team Building, Managing Conflicts, Job Design, Performance Evaluation, Change, and Final Thoughts). Each part has between 3 and 13 chapters that stand alone and provide a 3-5 minute lesson based on research findings. Because of the book’s diminutive size (4×6 inches), the book lends itself to being read from beginning to end in about 3 hours.

Additionally, each chapter contains a summary statement that demands one attention by use of a larger, italicized font. These summary statements provide an even faster method for quickly identifying (or relocating) valuable information within a chapter. I found them very useful when returning to the book for this review.

Academicians, especially those beginning their careers, will also benefit from the book as a means for getting up to speed in their field. Robbins does state that what one gets from the book depends on ones current knowledge about organizational behavior; however, by no means should this statement deter anyone because of a potential lack of prerequisites. He simply means that those with little formal training will have more enjoyment because of the acquisition of new information.

In a book such as this that emphasizes results, do not expect to see the evidence. It is the responsibility of readers to do in-depth study if they want to know research details. However, the means for pursuit are provided in the Reference section. Additionally, books that emphasize results can have their findings classified into three categories: (1) knowledge already known by the reader, (2) knowledge unknown to the reader but that is intuitive once acquired, and (3) knowledge unknown to the reader that is counter-intuitive. For a book to be worth reading, the majority of the content should fall into category (2) and (3). This categorized classification is dependent on the reader, which again points this book towards those with less formal training than seasoned researchers.

Using this classification scheme, in Part I: The Truth about Hiring, Robbins hits the ground running in Chapter One by stating that personality traits are not nearly as important as past behavior when selecting applicants to fill a position. Robbins claims that because people are highly adaptive, traits can change in response to organizational situations. Consequently, managers should make decisions based on past behavior and focus on previous experiences that are relevant to the current job opening. This chapter clearly provides a non-intuitive result. Referring to the book title, „truth“, by definition, should not conflict with other truths. Consequently, I expected to see few, if any, subsequent chapters devoted to personality traits as predictors when hiring. However, chapters 4, 8, 9, and 10 seem to emphasize the importance of personality traits. No attempt is made to tie these two conflicting results together into a collective „truth“. Fortunately, this is the only example of such inconsistency.

My favorite section is Part II: The Truth about Motivation. When reading through each section chapter, insight after insight was displayed. Chapter 13 makes the claim that happiness/satisfaction does not produce productivity. Instead, productivity produces happiness/satisfaction. Therefore, managers should put their effort into helping employees become productive instead of focusing on making them happy/satisfied. Chapter 15 completely contradicts quality guru Deming’s assertion that goals are detrimental. Robbins asserts that „mountains of evidence“ exist that show people perform best when they have specific goals. Chapter 16 offers a change of pace by saying not everyone wants to participate in establishing goals and participation is no sure means for improving employee performance. Chapter 17 continues the thought of chapter 13 and claims that happiness results from the deep concentration in which the participant is totally absorbed. Chapter 18 states that the average U.S. employee with internet access is spending 90 minutes a day visiting Web sites unrelated to his or her job.


Link – by Tiger, Andrew A.

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