NINE LIES ABOUT WORK By Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall

As we say good-bye to 2019, I thought that Nine Lies About Work might be a good book to reflect the confusing times we live in. Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall select nine “truisms” from the world of Work and show they lack realism and lead organizations astray. My favorite chapter is LIE #2: “The Best Plan Wins.” Today, things change so quickly, planning is tough to accomplish. Buckingham and Goodall stress information over planning. Whoever has the best information–accurate and reliable–will make better decisions. Buckingham and Goodall provide plenty of examples to illustrate their position.

I also enjoyed LIE #8: “Work-life Balance Matters Most.” Yes, it’s important to attend to both work and life after work. But, as Buckingham and Goodall show, work tends to require more attention and energy than non-work life. And, more rewards. I loved my job. Yes, there were annoyances but nothing I couldn’t handle. Because I enjoyed my job and earned a reasonable amount of money, my non-work life was enriched. If you want to understand how work, organizations, and people should operate for best results and maximum satisfaction, I recommend Nine Lies About Work. How do you feel about work? GRADE: A
Introduction 1
LIE #1 People care which company they work for 7
LIE #2 The best plan wins 33
LIE #3 The best companies cascade goals 51
LIE #4 The best people are well-rounded 77
LIE #5 People need feedback 105
LIE #6 People can reliably rate other people 133
LIE #7 People have potential 163
LIE #8 Work-life balance matters most 181
LIE #9 Leadership is a thing 207
Truths 235
Appendix A: The ADPRI’s Global Study of Engagement 237
Appendix B: Seven Things We Know for Sure at Cisco 247
Notes 261
Index 267
Acknowledgments 277
About the Authors 281

26 thoughts on “NINE LIES ABOUT WORK By Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall

    1. george Post author

      Prashant, Happy New Year to you and your family! I thought I was one of the luckiest guys in the world when I became a College Professor. I worked with a great group of colleagues who provided both support and fun. One of my colleagues, John Eagan, mentored me on investing in the Stock Market. That resulted in a surprising amount of money when Qualcomm (QCOM) stock took off like a rocket!

  1. wolf

    Best wishes for the New Year from Hungary too!
    Re work-life balance:
    I may have told this before. After my exam in maths I was “alone” because my prof and his assistants went to a US university for at least a year. I realised that I needed money so thought about applying for a job at IBM – 40 km away. Then in my favourite bar someone told me that his IT consultancy needed people so I applied there and got into databases which were a hot topic and the right level for a mathematician.
    After three years of consulting and teaching my boss wanted me to become a project leader – but I had seen so many projects fail so I decided to apply for a part time job – two thirds of a standard work time and since they didn’t have anyone else they agreed.
    In my last year I had spent 120 nights in hotels – that just couldn’t go on …
    So I had a good balance – being at work around two weeks and at home or on holiday the other two weeks of the month.

    I often wonder how people today manage that stress of hard work – and how they combine this with family life. What’s even worse today is that you spend long hours off from work in front of your PC or smartphone instead of with your friends and family …

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, good point! Many of my friends took jobs that paid more than a College Professor, but as you pointed out, those higher incomes don’t come free. Like you, my friends found themselves on the road traveling all around the country. And, of course, all that travel damaged their marriages and relationships with their children. My College had one of the best Child Care Programs in the region so I brought my son and daughter with me to work. While I taught my classes, my kids were in the Child Care Center getting individualized instruction and play. And, if there was a problem–my kids were prone to ear infections during those early years–I was called down immediately. I then called their pediatrician, got an appointment, and then I would stop at the doctor’s office on the way home to address the child’s problem. That worked well and reduced the stress of parenting.

  2. Deb

    I was in the corporate world for twenty years (“heels, hair, hose, and makeup” I always say) as a tech writer/proofreader/copy-editor for financial institutions and software companies. I liked the jobs I had, but never loved them—and I hated supervising people. I was fortunate that when the twins were young (I had my kids late in life and was already 42 when we moved to Louisiana), I was able to be a stay-at-home mom for a few years. When they went into kindergarten, I got a job with the school district so I could have the same days off as my kids (this is not uncommon among women I know who work in the school system) and, thus, went on the “Mommy Track.” The money isn’t great, but I get benefits (the health insurance is extremely important for the family). For the first seven years, I was a library aide (first in an elementary school, then a junior high)—the one job I had in my life that I can truly say I loved. For the past ten years, I’ve been a classroom aide, working with special needs students. A challenging but rewarding job.

    1. george Post author

      Deb, Diane taught in an elementary school (grades 1-5 and kindergarten) for 32 years. And, like you, she was off when our kids were off. From the beginning, I advised Diane to stay home during Summer Vacation (she used to teach Summer School before Patrick and Katie arrived) and “recharge her batteries.” I taught Summer School at the College for more than 30 years. I loved it! Some of my best students attended Summer School. The classes were electric and very entertaining for both the students and their jolly Professor. I used to order in pizza at the end of a course and that was well received by my students.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    Good points, all. My sister in Arizona does well, I’m sure, working for the Governor, but she is in a very high stress job. They called her in six months ago and told her she was being transferred to another project – not in charge, you understand – because it was two years behind schedule and millions over budget. She just got it straightened out and rewarded herself with a week in Hawaii. She has a high functioning autistic son (who got three A’s in his first semester of community college!) and her husband has health issues (as well as stress at his job at Charles Schwab).

    We never had to worry about paying for a house or providing for kids and putting them through college, so we were able to concentrate on ourselves. Jackie loved teaching and when she moved to a supervisory position, she was as good at it as you would expect. She had great benefits and has a terrific pension, and with investments and small inheritances, we don’t have money worries as so many do these days. I was able to work at home, drive her to and from school, and do everything from shopping to laundry to whatever else needed to be done.

    But nothing beats retirement! Like Diane, it has been 15 years plus and never a day of regret.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, Diane used to tell our friends that I was “semi-retired” for 30 years because of my cushy College teaching schedule (two days a week). Like Deb, I had some goofy Deans who caused aggravation over the years. But none of the Deans lasted too long and we had our fair share of excellent administrators, too. Diane and I have lost several friends to heart attacks and strokes brought on by their high pressure jobs and ceaseless travel.

      1. Jeff Meyerson

        Jackie loved Diane’s “semi-retired” line. She used to talk to Bill Crider about his “cushy” job compared with elementary school teachers.

      2. george Post author

        Jeff, Bill Crider and I both admitted we could not do Diane’s or Jackie’s jobs. I think being an elementary school teacher is one of the hardest jobs in the world!

      3. Deb

        I should clarify: by and large, I had pretty good managers and supervisors; what I hated was when I was supervising other people. If there’s a worse place to be in the corporate world than middle-management, I never found it.

      4. george Post author

        Deb, I was constantly being asked to become a Dean at the College. I always decline the “honor” and avoided that middle-management trap.

  4. Steve Oerkfitz

    Seems like another book aimed mainly at white collar workers. I worked both white collar and blue collar jobs. GM paid for my college although I hated working in an assembly plant. Most boring job in the world. My blue collar jobs paid better than my white collar. And I had less interference from above. My years working as an asst manager at B&N were the worst. The regional mgr came from a background in the shoe business and knew nothing about the book business. My last 18 years I worked for Trugreen as a tree & shrub specialist. A job I grew to like. I was out on my own all day and as long as I did my work I was left alone. And it paid better than the book business.
    Glad you liked your job. That makes life much more enjoyable.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, I did some consulting and training work for General Motors in the 1990s and early 2000s. The training sessions I conducted for blue collar GM workers included IT’S YOUR MONEY (a money management course) and HISTORY OF THE AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY. I enjoyed teaching both courses. The GM workers were smart and funny. They got a kick out of my criticisms of General Motors.

      1. wolf

        Funny coincidence!
        I also did teach IT people at Opel (until last year part of GM) on data bases – and BMW programmers too a long time ago.
        What I found interesting was how open these guys discussed problems and weaknesses of their products, mismanagement, errors that were made etc.

  5. Todd Mason

    A whole lot of inept management, usually at the corporate director level but not infrequently all down the chain, at my various jobs over the years. Being on the the Office Manager (basically Assistant Manager as well as Payroll and otherwise light accountant) at a Borders was the most managerial I had to be, though I did my best at what minor supervision I had at a couple of other jobs to Not be an idiot.

    Mocking work-life balance issues is a good way to stroke managers in the current corporate environment, who are usually looking for reasons why nobody needs to be treated like a person (not that this has ever been a priority in corporate culture). But I do come from a family default of workaholism.

      1. Todd Mason

        And, certainly, the Borders upper “management” folks were an object lesson on how to Do Nearly Everything Wrong from no later than the separation from K-Mart, and really nearly inarguably sooner.

      2. george Post author

        Todd, I loved BORDERS and bought thousands of dollars of books, CDs, and DVDs from them before the company went bankrupt. But, AMAZON changed the market and Big Box Bookstores didn’t adjust their business models in time.

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