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Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Todays Young Talent

ISBN: 978-1-118-72564-1
288 pages
September 2015, Jossey-Bass
Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Todays Young Talent (1118725646) cover image


Solve the number one problem with today's young workforcethe soft skills gap

The number one challenge with today's young talent is a problem hiding in plain sight: the ever-widening soft skills gap. Today's new, young workforce has so much to offer—new technical skills, new ideas, new perspective, new energy. Yet too many of them are held back because of their weak soft skills.

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 get fired because of their soft skills.

Setting a good example or simply telling young workers they need to improve isn't enough, nor is scolding them or pointing out their failings in an annual review. However you can teach the missing basics to today's young talent.

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

Tulgan's research and proven approach has show that the key to teaching young people the missing soft skills lies in breaking down critical soft skills into their component parts, concentrating on one small 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 as take-home exercises for any individual or group, to guide one-on-one discussions with direct-reports and in the classroom as written exercises or group discussions.

Managers—and their young employees—will find themselves returning to their favorite exercises over and over again. 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, between great and one of a kind.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xv

Part One The Soft Skills Gap 1

Prologue Meet the Newest New Young Workforce 3

Chapter 1 The Soft Skills Gap 7

The Soft Skills Gap: Growing Steadily from Gen X to Gen Y to Gen Z 10

Something Much Larger Is Going on Here: The Post-Boomer Generational Shift 11

Gen Zers Are the Ultimate Non-Conformists in an Age of Non-Comformism 16

The Soft Skills Gap: The Missing Basics in Today’s Young Talent 19

Face the Hard Realities of the Soft Skills Gap 29

Chapter 2 You Can’t Hire Your Way Around the Soft Skills Gap 33

Staffing Strategy and Hiring 34

On-Boarding and Up-to-Speed Training 39

Performance Management and Talent Development 42

Ongoing Training 45

The Human Element: What Role Are You Going to Play? 49

Become a Teaching Style Manager 51

Take It to the Next Level 54

Chapter 3 Unlocking the Power of Soft Skills 55

Drill Down: The Missing Basics 58

Unlocking the Power of Soft Skills 60

Unlocking the Power: The Rest of This Book 65

Part Two How to Teach the Missing Basics to Today ’s Young Talent 67

Chapter 4 How to Teach the Missing Basics of Professionalism to Today’s Young Talent 69

How to Teach Self-Evaluation 69

Self-Evaluation: Lesson Plan 1—Introduction 75

Self-Evaluation: Lesson Plan 2—Evaluating Yourself on Ability, Skill, and Will 76

Self-Evaluation: Lesson Plan 3—Evaluating Yourself on Productivity, Quality, and Behavior 77

Self-Evaluation: Lesson Plan 4—Evaluating Yourself on the Key Soft Skills Competencies 78

Self-Evaluation: Lesson Plan 5—Drill Down on Understanding the Key Soft Skills 80

Self-Evaluation: Lesson Plan 6—Explore Your Own Successes with the Key Soft Skills 82

How to Teach Personal Responsibility 84

Personal Responsibility: Lesson Plan 1—Introduction 86

Personal Responsibility: Lesson Plan 2—All the Factors That Are in Your Way 87

Personal Responsibility: Lesson Plan 3—Considering the Most Common Factors That Get in the Way at Work 88

Personal Responsibility: Lesson Plan 4—Response Power 89

How to Teach Positive Attitude 90

Positive Attitude: Lesson Plan 1—Considering Theories of How to Be Your Best at Work 93

Positive Attitude: Lesson Plan 2—Defining “Good Attitude” Behaviors with Your Team—or Any Individual 94

Positive Attitude: Lesson Plan 3—Considering Common Bad Attitudes 95

Positive Attitude: Lesson Plan 4—Considering Good Attitude Behaviors 96

Positive Attitude: Lesson Plan 5—For Individual Employees Who Need an Attitude Adjustment 97

How to Teach Good Work Habits 98

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 1—Introduction 102

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 2—Self-Assessment 104

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 3—Self-Improvement Planning 106

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 4—Wellness 107

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 5—Planning a Wellness Initiative 108

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 6—Self-Presentation 111

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 7—Using a Time Log to Start Living by a Schedule 112

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 8—How to Make a Basic Project Plan 116

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 9—Taking Notes and Making Checklists 118

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 10—Doing a Time/Motion Study on Yourself 120

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 11—Spotlight on Follow-Through 121

Good Work Habits: Lesson Plan 12—Going the Extra Mile 122

How to Teach People Skills 123

People Skills: Lesson Plan 1—Interpersonal Communication 126

People Skills: Lesson Plan 2—Self-Assessing Interpersonal Communication 127

People Skills: Lesson Plan 3—Learning to Use the “People List” 128

People Skills: Lesson Plan 4—Putting More Structure into Your Communication 132

People Skills: Lesson Plan 5—Putting More Substance into Your Communication 134

People Skills: Lesson Plan 6—Preparing for Meetings 136

People Skills: Lesson Plan 7—Email Best Practices 137

People Skills: Lesson Plan 8—Communicating Remotely 138

Chapter 5 How to Teach the Missing Basics of Critical Thinking to Today’s Young Talent 139

How to Teach Proactive Learning 139

Proactive Learning: Lesson Plan 1—Proactive Learning 143

Proactive Learning: Lesson Plan 2—Open Mind 147

Proactive Learning: Lesson Plan 3—Suspend Judgment, Question Assumptions, and Seek to Learn 150

Proactive Learning: Lesson Plan 4—Question Assumptions 152

Proactive Learning: Lesson Plan 5—Research 153

Proactive Learning: Lesson Plan 6—Study Skills—Building Knowledge 156

Proactive Learning: Lesson Plan 7—Practice Skills—Building Skill 158

Proactive Learning: Lesson Plan 8—Contemplate Competing Perspectives to Build Wisdom 160

How to Teach Problem Solving 162

Problem Solving: Lesson Plan 1—Introduction 165

Problem Solving: Lesson Plan 2—Preventing or Avoiding Problems Before They Happen 166

Problem Solving: Lesson Plan 3—Ready-Made Solutions to Commonly Occurring Problems 168

Problem Solving: Lesson Plan 4—Common Denominators and Underlying Principles 170

Problem Solving: Lesson Plan 5—Applying the After Action Review Tool 171

Problem Solving: Lesson Plan 6—Using the After-Action Review Tool to Learn from Others 173

How to Teach Decision Making 174

Decision Making: Lesson Plan 1—Introduction 177

Decision Making: Lesson Plan 2—Information Analysis: Simple Pros and Cons 179

Decision Making: Lesson Plan 3—Cause and Effect: Positive Outcomes 181

Decision Making: Lesson Plan 4—Cause and Effect: Negative Outcomes 182

Decision Making: Lesson Plan 5—Applying the After-Action Review Tool 183

Decision Making: Lesson Plan 6—Using the Decision/Action Tree 184

Chapter 6 How to Teach the Missing Basics of Followership to Today’s Young Talent 187

How to Teach Respect for Context 187

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 1—Introduction 191

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 2—Reading the Structure, Rules, Customs, and Leadership 192

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 3—Where Do You Fit? 194

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 4—How Can You Adapt? 195

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 5—Context-Limiting Factors 196

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 6—Complicated Relationships 197

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 7—Positive Contexts 198

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 8—Negative Contexts 199

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 9—Dealing with People with Bad Attitudes 200

Respect for Context: Lesson Plan 10—Dealing with People with Great Attitudes 201

How to Teach Good Citizenship 202

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 1—Introduction 206

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 2—The “Respect for Others” Model 208

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 3—The “Best Interests” Model 210

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 4—The “Civic" Model 211

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 5—The “Communitarian” Model 212

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 6—The “Common Sense” Model 213

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 7—The “Solid Standards” Model 215

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 8—The “Personal Sacrifice” Model 217

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 9—The Theodore Roosevelt Model 219

Good Citizenship: Lesson Plan 10—Create Your Own Model 220

How to Teach Service 221

Service: Lesson Plan 1—Introduction 225

Service: Lesson Plan 2—Common Myths About “Service” in the Workplace 227

Service: Lesson Plan 3—Realities About Service in the Workplace 228

Service: Lesson Plan 4—Myths Versus Realities in the Workplace 229

Service: Lesson Plan 5—The “Be a Great Employee” Model of Service 234

Service: Lesson Plan 6—The “Service” Approach to One-on-Ones Between Managers and Direct Reports 235

Service: Lesson Plan 7—The Service Approach to Meeting Attendance and Participation 237

Service: Lesson Plan 8—Helping Your Boss Monitor Your Performance 239

Service: Lesson Plan 9—Putting Yourself on a Performance Improvement Plan 240

How to Teach Teamwork 241

Teamwork: Lesson Plan 1—Introduction 245

Teamwork: Lesson Plan 2—Defining the Dimensions of Teamwork 247

Teamwork: Lesson Plan 3—Your Role in Relation to the Mission 249

Teamwork: Lesson Plan 4—Coordinating, Cooperating, and Collaborating with Others 250

Teamwork: Lesson Plan 5—Supporting and Celebrating the Success of Others 252

Teamwork: Lesson Plan 6—Identifying Your “Go To” People and Building Relationships with Them 253

Teamwork: Lesson Plan 7—Becoming a “Go To” Person for Others 254

Teamwork: Lesson Plan 8—Using Influence to Get Things Done 255

Teamwork: Lesson Plan 9—Consider the Lessons About Teamwork from This U.S. Air Force Special Operations Team 256

About the Author 259

Index 261

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Author Information

BRUCE TULGAN is the founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking, Inc., a management research and training firm, as well as RainmakerThinking.training, an online training company. Bruce is an adviser to business leaders all over the world and a sought-after keynote speaker, seminar leader, and author of numerous books, including the bestselling It's Okay to Be the Boss, the classic Managing Generation X, Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, It's Okay to Manage Your Boss, and FAST Feedback.

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