Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y

Author

Bruce Tulgan

Book Cover

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Book Review

This book gets a lot of the details right, and has good suggestions that stand well on their own and would integrate well with the Manager-Tools trinity. But I can't recommend it. The main premise of the book--even the title!--is prima facie false, to the point of being mildly offensive.

There is no place in corporate America for judging people based upon the circumstances of their birth. Period.

There are millions upon millions of Americans born between 1978 and 1990, which Tulgan defines as Generation Y. He allows that other demographers might tweak the boundaries a few years this way or that way. If only he allowed such nuance in how he characterizes the background, ethic, and outlook of the people within those boundaries! There is no grey area for him. If your birth certificate reads 1978 through 1990, you will, you must, you always behave according to the aggregate data he has compiled on your generation. In fact, this book goes even further by saying your behavior and your underlying beliefs about the world are reliably predicted by the year you popped out of the womb. Rubbish.

Consider this book with any other title and you see how destructive it can be to think of people based on who they were the day they were born:

Not Everyone Gets a Perm: How to Manage Redheads
Not Everyone Gets a Hat: How to Manage Texans
Not Everyone Gets a Pepsi: How to Manage Diabetics

The idea that MTV, September 11, and Google so fundamentally and uniformly warped all members of Generation Y such that corporate America must bend over backward to accommodate their antics at work is harmful. It is an incitement to prejudice.

I do like much of the book's actionable advice, though. The basics are here: weekly one-on-ones with your directs, modifying your communication style to suit your listener, coaching toward clearly-defined goals, building a network respectfully and professionally. He has solid, actionable steps for helping a new employee get on board, particularly if the employee is new to the workforce. Pare down all the titillating anecdotes about Gen-Y'ers mouthing off to their boss, and there could be a very helpful book here for on-boarding and mentoring new hires. 

Agree Generally

This book actually has some good ideas in it...but it's fatally flawed.  Mr. Tulgan is smart and ought to know better.  The good ideas in here are in our casts, anyway.