An anecdotal, employee-oriented handbook for modern-day business owners and managers.
Eisenhauer’s terrifically readable nonfiction debut offers a comprehensive breakdown and reinterpretation of some of the most essential elements of the business world. The author breaks down his findings into 23 workplace principles, organized along three groupings: “Empower the Individual,” “Empower the Relationship,” and “Empower the Culture.” As these titles make clear, Eisenhauer’s emphasis is on empowerment—specifically, on employers’ finding ways to make their workers “own” their projects and find their own motivations, with an eye toward success in the marketplace. This type of approach, he notes, has worked to the benefit of such companies as Whole Foods and Zappos. The book takes readers through many different aspects of running a business, covering such topics as mission statements, the intricacies of the hiring process, creating a sense of camaraderie, insisting on accountability without micromanaging, and so on. While doing so, Eisenhauer provides simple pieces of advice on a wide variety of smaller matters as well, such as how to avoid long introductions in group meetings while also making sure that everyone gets to know one another. Along the way, he quotes extensively from business manuals and articles to provide support for his book’s main points. Eisenhauer acknowledges that several principles in this manual may seem self-evident to many readers, but he gently cautions them that it’s possible to fall short, or even fail, at seemingly obvious things. “Your outcomes,” he writes simply, “will faithfully match your attitude.”
The author’s direct, unpretentious tone is the strongest element of his book. By using frank personal anecdotes, along with wide-ranging interviews and other examples, he manages to get across the central importance of his key message: making managers and employees feel empowered. At one point, for example, he quotes a friend named Betsy, identified as an “independent consultant,” as saying: “Every company should empower employees…but I just don’t see it happening.” Then Eisenhauer characteristically urges readers to “think about that,” pointing out, “Even though companies don’t set out to squelch employees, few are actually doing anything to empower them—and even fewer are doing it the right way.” The author is always mindful of the existence of human fallibility (“No matter what you do to rivet yourself to your goal,” he writes, “sometimes you will lapse”), and this makes his observations about basics, such as networking, mentoring, or promotions, feel immediate and personal. As a result, the tone feels far less strident than those of other motivational business books. Throughout, Eisenhauer positions himself as the best of all possible corporate mentors—that is, someone who’s learned a great deal from his own failures and setbacks. He effectively lays out the lessons of his experiences, not only in story form, but also in “Do” and “Don’t” lists and clear, aphoristic summations, such as “Theory without practice is dead.” Many in the business world, and particularly personnel managers, will find it all invaluable.
A plainspoken and warmly inviting re-evaluation of corporate culture.