Generation Y, some 70 million strong, have already begun to assert their influence on America's workforce, yet they remain the least understood by their managers. Bruce Tulgan's Not Everyone Gets a Trophy offers valuable insights for understanding what motivates and defines this generation at work and clarifies the prevailing myths that linger about this misunderstood generation.
Drawing from more than a decade of interviews with Gen Yers in the workforce, this book offers a framework for managers to reduce or circumvent common generational mismatches on the job.
Tulgan begins with a fresh look at Generation Y. While acknowledging the "high maintenance" stereotype surrounding this generation, he offers practical guidance on refocusing Gen Y's creativity and smarts without having to scrap the organization's current culture entirely.
Tulgan describes Gen Y as pro-learning and focused on short-term gains. He also notes they are the most work-life balance - focused generation, so the questions in their minds at hire time are not about whether they will fit into your organization, but whether your organization will fit into their lives.
Gen Y, according to Tulgan, will frequently re-examine the value of their work roles, seek to increase their marketable skills with each assignment, and promptly pursue alternatives if they are not being given work that fully engages them. On the up-side, he asserts, they will solve problems that stymied previous generations, network naturally, and share data more freely with others in the work environment.
For readers who are unsure about how to evolve existing management or training styles to resonate with this generation, Tulgan lays out a roadmap that encompasses everything from how to attract talent, to how to keep them engaged. The first step, he writes, is to not get hung up on the myths about Gen Y as employees.
Consider, for example, Tulgan's myth number four: There is a prevailing notion among lamenting baby boomers that Gen Y employees arrive expecting the top job from day one. From Tulgan's viewpoint, this represents not conceit, but simply the tendency of Gen Y workers to take on the uncharted or undiscovered, as a faster ticket to being taken seriously on the job.
This enthusiasm can get your Gen Y employees into trouble with existing employees. According to Tulgan, managers need to establish a proactive, consistent, and continual dialogue of guidance to ensure that these new charges work well with others. This includes spelling out desired behaviors, norms, and communication styles, including what is and is not negotiable with the boss.
Another prevailing Gen Y stereotype the author tries to stamp out is the belief that Gen Y employees are disloyal or averse to staying in one place for too long. The author counters this myth by describing a new brand of loyalty in the workplace today, one he calls "transactional loyalty." Unlike previous generations schooled in accepting hierarchy and long-range rewards, Gen Y's transactional loyalty is based on optimizing their individual needs and wants, which often includes their desire to continuously learn with each new assignment.
Tulgan explains his framework in individual chapters, using quotes and on-the-job vignettes from Gen Y employees to cement his notion that this is actually the most understood generation in the workplace, as well as his ideas on how to make the workplace a welcoming environment for all employees. Tulgan also shares his insights on how employers who follow traditional management approaches might completely misinterpret Gen Y's behaviors and miss the value of this generation as key contributors.
This book supports Gen Y's many gifts in the workplace and lays out a salient approach to help employers update their management styles to breed success. The bottom line is that while every generation brings new talents and values to the world of work, decoding the uniqueness of the Gen Y mindset makes this book a worthwhile read. I give it three and a half cups.