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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2007
I was attracted by the very direct title, and the book delivered. It is specific, detailed, and honest. I particularly appreciated Tulgan's warning that becoming a better manager is like starting a fitness program. I'd rather it wasn't hard, time consuming, and something that requires daily discipline, but I like that he's up front about it. And that his book has so many specific things to do, answers to objections, and reasons it's worth it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2008
In my many years in the workforce, I've seen just about every half-baked management fad that's come down the pike. Most of them leave the manager confused and the "managee" feeling patronized or worse. Almost all get dumped sooner rather than later.

Thanks to this book I can finally put my finger on what's wrong with these fads - they are simply elaborate excuses to avoid the actual hard work of management by wallowing in pop psychologoy or meaningless "metrics". There is no getting away from the fact that the manager's job is to set very definite expectations for his/her direct reports, communicate them clearly, track them diligently, and reward or discipline the worker accordingly. Tulgan makes it clear that good management takes effort but the rewards are great - a better and more honest relationship with your direct reports, better morale and better productivity.

Read this book if you have anyone reporting to you. And if not, buy it for your boss!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2007
A short time ago, I worked for a small-sized company with somewhat oversized ambitions, but I could never pinpoint why I felt the business's ambitions were out of synch with its practices. I happened to pick up Bruce Tulgan's book, It's Okay to Be the Boss, and after just the first few pages, I knew under-management was the culprit I couldn't name. Tulgan has aptly christened an unfortunate corporate ailment. His book is a meaningful attempt to "lift the lid" and expose the sorry state of today's management, while providing the necessary course corrections. He emphasizes daily interaction; establishing methods for accountability; and clarity, clarity, clarity.

The book has several strengths:
1. Instinctual, but not impulsive. Tulgan's message resonates in an intuitive way - "Yes! It is okay for me to be the boss!" and "Indeed, it will be hard work, but it will be worthwhile." His message cuts through the daily noise and excuses to plainly remind managers of their primary, even sacred duty: get people to work at their best (very hard, very fast) all day long. Yet his book does not "rush in" - he is pragmatic and reasonable. Tulgan does not hype absurd or pointless tricks. He is not about cutting corners.
2. Immediately actionable. Do not be surprised if you feel the urge to implement these techniques as soon as possible - in fact, it is likely that you'll be tempted to put the book down half-way through and announce "Great news, I'm the boss! And I'm going to do my best to be a great one!" His strategies are simple and straightforward. You can begin managing with these techniques immediately (like holding your first 15 minute standing meeting) - there is no need to meditate heavily or layout a long-range vision.
3. Realistic. Tulgan does not pad the landing. He serves a stark dose of reality and eliminates the power of excuses. This is great for course correction because he acknowledges, but then disarms any hesitations to change your habits. Tulgan anticipates the excuses and shreds them with his insightful advice for taking action.
4. Direct. Tulgan employs an up-tempo and assertive writing style that is invigorating to read.

Nonetheless, there are several aspects that prevent a 5 star rating:
1. Imprecise & broad. The book is inspirational but the sweeping message means nuance gets sacrificed. Tulgan would have served his readers better if he had addressed a greater variety of management situations (i.e., managing people who have greater seniority; managing across disciplines; managing in high-creativity fields; managing rote work; managing multiple generations). [Side note: Tulgan has done extensive work on generational differences in the workplace. Why he chose not to include any of that material in this book, I cannot be sure.] Also, for claiming to be a "step-by-step" guide, the steps are big ones, and the reader is required to straddle some gaps in the progression from one step to the next. The question of "how?" goes unanswered at times (for instance, an example of a "manager's landscape" would be helpful).
2. Missing facilitation aspects of managing. Tulgan spends only a few pages on the concept of management through facilitation. Given my own experience, from both sides of the management relationship, this would be worthy of deeper exploration. However, I'd admit that this line of inquiry might cloud the field with too many exceptions to the very direct, linear course of action Tulgan promotes.
3. Incomplete circle - feedback loops? Tulgan fails to address the need for managers to seek the feedback of their direct reports. Managers may know what's best in many situations, but employees collect plenty of valuable insight as they work the front lines of a business. The channels of communication must be multidirectional, so that learning/improvement is constant and widespread. Tulgan emphasizes only top-down communication. Tulgan should speak to the need for managers to implement "performance tracking" for their own performance!
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46 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2007
Bruce Tulgan's "It's OK to Be the Boss" is one of the toughest books I've ever read/reviewed. His premise, like most of his previous work, is dead on accurate. When I saw somebody willing to say there's a crisis of "undermanagement," I was thrilled. So I'd give the book a five on promise - and some of that is fulfilled. But unfortunately, the execution is a -4 so the rating ends up as only one star. I think he could have made most of his good points without the pieces that ultimately will only confuse managers - and in many cases give them excuses for not doing the very things Tulgan's arguing must be done.

It starts early with Tulgan's criticism of the work from Blanchard, Buckingham, and even a backhand compliment of Adler's hiring formula. What's particularly misleading, no matter how much Tulgan might deny it, is that it is obvious he has never read the works he criticizing. Blanchard has been making it very clear for decades that the "One Minute Manager" takes more than a minute; Buckingham makes it even clearer that the steps in "First, Break All the Rules" are not just empowerment and require the very detailed regular attention to the very detail that Tulgan calls for. Buckingham's most recent works on a "strengths-based" approach is backed by solid research - not just anecdotal evidence Tulgan cites. He even misinterprets the classic Theory X - Theory Y, not knowing that McGregor clearly stated that a Theory Y Manager recognized the existence of Theory X assumptions about some employees (in 1960 estimated at 35% of the workforce). He then praises Lou Adler's hiring methods, but backhandedly points out that this approach is also flawed by assuming a company can hire all peak performers - something that is not Adler's position and again proves that he hasn't read the things he criticizing. Tulgan misunderstands Adler's position in which he clearly states that the performance-based hiring process is really the first step of what can become a much better performance-management process.

Tulgan also falls prey to the classic problem of blaming the system for the failure, ending up criticizing a new management-by-objectives, pay-for-performance, and forced-ranking as yielding only mixed results. Personally I'm not a fan of forced-ranking for a variety of other reasons, but when MBO or Pay-for-Performance fails, it is rarely the concept that fails - it is usually poor execution by the managers doing it.

As I delved deeper and deeper in this book, I realized how a good concept was destroyed by an overall argument that wasn't necessary.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2007
If you're like me, someone needing to get better at management but with little formal training, this book is definately for you. It really separates myths from reality and let's us know that what most of us think is "common business knowledge" quite often turns out to either flawed or just plain incorrect. I also like that Bruce is very upfront. He's tells the reader straight away that managing is not simple, not easy and improving at it won't happen overnight but that with effort and hard work we can improve.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2007
"It was a very different style (edgy and honest) that set itself apart from all of the other business books I've read over the years. There were many good points to validate what we see on a daily basis, plus 3 to 4 good takeaways that I could apply immediately."
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2007
I've both read a number of his books (great hand-on advice) as well as having had an opportunity to see Tulgan speak a couple of times. I'm a believer and this new book is an excellent synthesis of the best ideas he's presented and written over the past few years. I've been employed in a couple of extremely demanding and highly service oriented sectors (financial services and real estate) and it's clear who's being managed effectively (the few) and those who are absolutely not. Tulgan nails it - the cost is staggering. He provides an effective approach to cutting-edge management in an understandable and concise, easy to read and easy to follow approach.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2009
This book was by far the best book I found for the new leader. It is unfortunate in today's environment, Managers are not given time to really manage people. With our plates over flowing, something in the business suffers and usually it is the people side. His description of "cliques and bully's" developing when leaders are not right in front of the people was dead on. Undermanageing is the problem, not micromanaging!
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on September 18, 2015
This book provides great insights into assisting a manager to become one who is detail oriented, can hold their direct reports accountable & providing them clear expectations and guidelines to make their assignment a success.

This book is engaging and the author provides many practical notions to help both the first time and experience manager improve.

5 star reviews by:
Bob Pritchett (April 15, 2007)
Tim Goodheart (March 16, 2007)
Amazon Customer (April 4, 2007)
Mark Kurber (March 28, 2007)
Amethyst (June 17, 2009)
K. Rosenberg (January 16, 2009)
Jacqueline M. Comeau (June 1, 2015)--an accurate summary is provided here.
Cathy Del Greco (May 5, 2007)--another accurate summary.
Jai A. Evans (December 23, 2013)
Anna Homen (May 29, 2015)
Steve (May 20, 2007)
Jeff (May 2, 2007)--an on target assessment.
Kimberle (July 22, 2010)
Joseph Engwer (March 23, 2007)

4 star reviews by:

Dianne W (August 6, 2010)--a well stated review.
MikeSRice (April 2, 2015)
Richard Etheridge (August 26, 2013)

3 star reviews by:
Brian A. Carter (April 30, 2015)

With over 65 ideas that I wrote down for this review, I will provide a few here.

On the basics of management: "...Delegate properly so each employee knows which tasks belong to him and him alone. Spell out exactly what is within his authority and what is not. Equip him with the tools and techniques of the job. That's not micromanagement, that's just plan management. Anything less is undermanagement...Understand, accept, and embrace that managing people has become a day-to-day negotiation...Employment relationships are transactional."

On Real Empowerment: "If you want to truly empower people, then you simply must define the terrain on which they have power. That terrain consists of effectively delegated goals, with clear guidelines and concrete deadlines. Consistently articulating with every direct report the appropriate standards and expectations--what to do and how to do it--is the hard work of leading, managing and supervising. Within clearly articulated parameters, a direct report has power."

On an effective manager: "...(they) have a special way of talking. They adopt a special posture, demeanor, and tone. They have a way of talking that is both authoritative and sympathetic; both demanding and supportive; both disciplined and patient. It is a way of talking that is neither Mr. Friend nor Mr. Boss, but rather nearly exactly in the middle. This special way of talking looks a lot like performance coaching."

pp.14-27 covers 7 management myths in today's workplace, including:
1) The Myth of Empowerment
2) The Myth of Fairness
3) The Myth of the Nice Guy
4) The Myth of the Difficult Conversation
5) The Myth of Red Tape
6) The Myth of the Natural Leader
7) The Myth of Time

p.31 provides a long list on how to be a great manager.
p.72 describes how a manager's goal should be to help an employee mature, develop, become more valuable, and become an asset to the organization.
p.101-104 shows the difference between micromanagement and undermanagement.
p.115-122 gives insights into effectively documenting an employee's performance, particularly through HR forms and email the manager receives from the employee. (Reminds me of a manager telling me to create an "I Love Me" file--a way for the employee to track his own performance, complete with "Atta Boy/Girl" emails to be used for the current performance review.)
p.154-162 gives insights on how to create customized rewards with employees.
p.124-127 gives the effects of a manager not addressing an employee's performance issues while they are still small and preventing them from growing into larger issues.
p.178-81 gives examples of employee push back and how a manager should appropriately respond.
p.184-5 gives insights on how to manage your manager.
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on August 6, 2010
How often are new managers set up to fail by not being given basic instructions on their most important job function - managing their employees? Sadly enough, the promotion that they were once so excited about has now become the hardest job in the world. Oddly enough, it's not because of the workload, it's because of the employees.

It's Okay to Be the Boss - The Step by Step Guide to Becoming the Manager your Employees Need by Bruce Tulgan spells it out in layman's terms for seasoned and veteran managers. The book begins by discussing what Tulgan phrases the "undermanagement epidemic." Today's workers require more engagement and a different management style from person to person. The cookie cutter approach to management is no longer possible with so many different generations inhabiting the same work space.

Tulgan offers sound guidance. Managers need to get into the habit of managing everyday, regardless of their workload. Employees need coaches and counselors, performance should be tracked and problems should be solved before they get out of hand. Unfortunately so many managers often don't know when or where to begin. This foundation is provided in "It's Okay to be the Boss."
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