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“Nine Lies About Work” – a HBR Book Review about Workplace Myths

“Nine Lies About Work” – a book review by

Work and lies represent catchy words for a book title. “Nine Lies About Work” sounds even better – and promises a lot (at least quantitatively). Ashley Goodall and Marcus Buckingham embark on a very exciting journey – the one where they would dispel a lot of myths about work. These myths are deeply ingrained in our working culture – so deep that in fact some of them passed the folklore stage and became daily walk-in assumptions.

What are the lies about work? Beyond the provocative denomination – lies about work are pre-conceptions about the way we conduct our work during our careers. Things that we heard so many times about our office behavior, processes and interactions, that we take for granted. Our rear mirror blind-spots… well, you get the idea.

Furthermore, during their research Goodall and Buckingham discovered that these preconceptions are not only of little value, but also counter-productive. For example the “feedback myth” – that we should all improve our skills and careers by seeking and giving 360 degrees feedback. Such a myth could become frustrating and demotivating if pushed too much from one side or another. Its effects might even be the opposite of what the well-intended managers might think of. As such, it becomes even more critical to recognize these false truths and carefully balance the organizations towards the right direction, otherwise we as leaders risk loosing fast time and talented employees’ attention.

Interestingly enough, Goodall and Buckingham take also the “Nine Lies about Work” a bit further. The book’s stated goal is to develop and cherish the individuality within teams or colleagues. Instead of flattening it, organizations should seek ways to bolster it. This is the real message of the book – and one that I am fully aligned with. Of course there is tension between pulling the whole organizations towards strategic objectives. Yet, in the process the leaders should be careful not to loose some valuable bits.

Spoiler alert – the nine lies uncovered by this Harvard Business Review book are:

#1: People care which company they work for

#2: The best plan wins

#3: The best companies cascade goals

#4: The best people are well-rounded

#5: People need feedback

#6: People can reliably rate other people

#7: People have potential

#8: Work-life balance matters most

#9: Leadership is a thing

Of course, if you want to read and own your “Nine Lies About Work” copy, you can always order it from the Harvard Business Review Publishing website – it might not be a bad idea to revisit it from time to time.





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