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BOOK REVIEW: "Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Today's Young Talent" by Bruce Tulgan

Feb 12, 2016
The number one challenge with today's young talent is a problem hiding in plain sight: the ever-widening "soft skills gap.” In author Bruce Tulgan's latest book, "Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Today's Young Talent Today's Young Talent" (published by John Wiley & Sons; $26.95/hardcover) the newest young workforce has so much to offer — new technical skills, new ideas, new perspective, new energy. Yet too many of them are held back—and driving the grown-ups crazy—because of their weak soft skills.

Here's what managers say:

- "They just don't know how to behave professionally.”

- "They arrive late, leave early, dress inappropriately, and spend too much time on social media.”

- "They know how to text, but they don't know how to write a memo.”

- "They don't know what to say and what not to say or how to behave in meetings.”

- "They don't know how to think, learn, or communicate without checking a device.”

- "They don't have enough respect for authority and don't know the first thing about good citizenship, service, or teamwork.”

Soft skills may be harder to define and measure than hard skills, but they are just as critical. People get hired because of their hard skills but often get fired because of their soft skills.

Managers ask: "Why should it be my problem to teach these soft skills? They should have learned these things from their parents or in school. How can I teach these soft skills when I don't even remember how I learned them myself?”

Here's the bad news: Setting a good example or simply telling young workers they need to improve their soft skills isn't enough. Nor is scolding them or pointing out their failings in an annual review.

Here's the good news: You can teach the missing basics to today's young talent.

Now, based on more than twenty years of research, renowned expert on the Millennial workforce Bruce Tulgan offers concrete solutions to help managers teach the missing basics of professionalism, critical thinking, and followership — complete with 92 step-by-step lesson plans designed to be highly flexible and easy to use.

Tulgan's research and proven approach has shown that the key to teaching young people the missing soft skills lies in breaking those skills down into their component parts and concentrating on one component at a time with the help of a teaching-style manager. Almost all of the exercises can be done in less than an hour within a team meeting or an extended one-on-one. The exercises are easily modified and customized and can be used in many different ways:

- As "take-home” exercises for any individual or group

- To guide one-on-one discussions with direct reports

- In the classroom as written exercises or in group discussions

Managers—and their young employees—will find themselves returning to their favorite exercises over and over again. Through one exercise at a time, managers will build up the most important soft skills of their new young talent. These critical soft skills can make the difference between mediocre and good, between good and great, and between great and "one of a kind.”

About the Author:

Bruce Tulgan is an adviser to business leaders all over the world and a sought-after keynote speaker and seminar leader. He is the founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking, Inc., a management research and training firm, as well as RainmakerThinking.Training, an on-line training company. Bruce is the best-selling author of numerous books including The 27 Challenges Managers Face (2014), Not Everyone Gets a Trophy (2009), It's Okay to be the Boss (2007), Winning the Talent Wars (2001), FAST Feedback (1999), and the classic Managing Generation X (1995).


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