The Year’s Best Book on Managing People. Period.

I don’t like management books.  Almost without exception — until now — every management book has come up short.  Most of them are 10-plus chapters of concepts like management by walking around or stories about companies built to last.

It’s Okay to Be the Boss:The Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need definitely isn’t one of those mushy Kumbya management books.  It is a straight-forward guide to correcting what the author, Bruce Tulgan, views as an epidemic of undermanagement that is hurting U.S. companies, and the U.S. economy overall.

He deftly dismantles many of the most popular theories floated by management gurus who give speeches at trade association conventions — empowerment, being fair by treating high-performers the same as low performers, being a nice guy or friend of your employees, avoiding “difficult conversations” with employees, the idea that leaders are born, not made.

To be sure, Tulgan forthrightly acknowledges that managing is hard work. and requires the boss — whether he’s a first-line foreman or the chief executive of a Fortune 500 company — to engage in hands-on management.  Tulgan says every manager needs to learn to talk like a performance coach.  He tells the reader to take it one person at a time, and notes that what works for one person may not work for another.

He also discusses how to make accountability a real process, how to tell people what to do and how to do it, how to track performance, how and why to solve small problems before they become big problems.  Why you should do more for some people and less for others; It’s a matter of rewarding strong performers and incentivizing weak performers to improve — or leave.

What is particularly significant is that this is not a high-level theoretical book.  It is a step-by-step, how-to-do-it cookbook full of recipes to turn mediocre bosses into great bosses, who in turn  mediocre workers into great workers who make their companies great.

This is a book that deserves a place in the briefcase of every person who has to supervise another.  But simply reading it isn’t enough:  You have to put it into practice.

We strongly recommend it.  You can buy it through our online bookstore.

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