The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance

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Free Press, May 18, 2010 - Business & Economics - 352 pages
3 Reviews
The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working is one of those rare books with the power to profoundly transform the way we work and live.

Demand is exceeding our capacity. The ethic of "more, bigger, faster" exacts a series of silent but pernicious costs at work, undermining our energy, focus, creativity, and passion. Nearly 75 percent of employees around the world feel disengaged at work every day. The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working offers a groundbreaking approach to reenergizing our lives so we’re both more satisfied and more productive—on the job and off.

By integrating multidisciplinary findings from the science of high performance, Tony Schwartz, coauthor of the #1 bestselling The Power of Full Engagement, makes a persuasive case that we’re neglecting the four core needs that energize great performance: sustainability (physical); security (emotional); self-expression (mental); and significance (spiritual). Rather than running like computers at high speeds for long periods, we’re at our best when we pulse rhythmically between expending and regularly renewing energy across each of our four needs.

Organizations undermine sustainable high performance by forever seeking to get more out of their people. Instead they should seek systematically to meet their four core needs so they’re freed, fueled, and inspired to bring the best of themselves to work every day.

Drawing on extensive work with an extra-ordinary range of organizations, among them Google, Ford, Sony, Ernst & Young, Shell, IBM, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Cleveland Clinic, Schwartz creates a road map for a new way of working. At the individual level, he explains how we can build specific rituals into our daily schedules to balance intense effort with regular renewal; offset emotionally draining experiences with practices that fuel resilience; move between a narrow focus on urgent demands and more strategic, creative thinking; and balance a short-term focus on immediate results with a values-driven commitment to serving the greater good. At the organizational level, he outlines new policies, practices, and cultural messages that Schwartz’s client companies have adopted.

The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working offers individuals, leaders, and organizations a highly practical, proven set of strategies to better manage the relentlessly rising demands we all face in an increasingly complex world.

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I love this book. Simple common sense backed up by research, presented in a compelling, personal, friendly style-- anyone who has felt whacked-up and burnt-out by the way the modern workplace functions will feel instantly understood. And rare indeed is the modern worker who would not recognise him/herself in these pages! Above all, I liked the practicable steps and long-term vision of the advice. Tony Schwartz is one very practical, down-to-earth visonary, with a mission to change the modern world. Way to go, guys!  

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This is one of those rare books that details the wrong ways you’re working without making you feel that the situation is hopelessly complex or beyond repair. Tony Schwartz (writing with Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy) offers interesting, practical advice to employers and employees alike on how to banish that “gerbil on a treadmill” feeling forever. With case studies from such companies as Ford, Sony and Ernst & Young, as well as helpful charts, graphs and exercises, this highly readable manual will make you think twice about how you and your employees work. Although it mentions lots of insider human resources (HR) methodologies – such as the ones in Gallup’s employee engagement surveys – the book never bogs down in jargon. However, the author may need to revise and update it in a few years as the workplace becomes increasingly dependent upon technology. getAbstract suggests this book to frustrated leaders, HR practitioners, overwhelmed employees and anyone who wants more control over his or her working and personal life.
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About the author (2010)

Tony Schwartz is the founder and president of The Energy Project, a consulting group that works with a number of Fortune 500 companies, including American Express, Credit Suisse, Ford, General Motors, Gillette, Master Card, and Sony.  He was a reporter for the New York Times, an associate editor at Newsweek, and a staff writer for New York Magazine and Esquire and a columnist for Fast Company.  He co-authored the #1 worldwide bestseller The Art of the Deal with Donald Trump, and after that wrote What Really Matters.  He co-authored the #1 New York Times bestseller The Power of Full Engagement with Jim Loehr.

Jean Gomes is Managing Director of DPA, a London-based management consultancy specializing in leadership and culture change. For the past 20 years, he has been advising companies like Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Cable & Wireless, Sun Microsystems, Sony, ICL, The Home Office, Nokia and Intel in the US, Japan and Europe. He is also Chairman of The Energy Project Europe. 

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