As the membership rolls of many of America’s Masonic Lodges dwindle, Lodges consolidate, and Masonic charities struggle with their fundraising goals, Masonry is looking to Generation Y, some 70 million strong, to save the day. Yet, when older Masons reach out to these young men, they are having trouble understanding, connecting with, and retaining this vibrant and energetic generation. Thankfully, there is help.
Bruce Tulgan’s Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y is an important guide for understanding what drives and defines this “high-maintenance” generation. It examines the myths about this often misunderstood group of young men (and women), all whilst offering practical guidance on harnessing and redirecting Gen Y’s creativity and intellect without having to completely re-work Masonry’s unique culture. Just kidding … sort of.
While the focus of the book is on managing and leading Gen Y in the workplace, much like Robert D. Putnam’s Bowling Alone, there is an incredible wealth of information available in this easy-to-read volume, much of which can be applied to the Craft.
Starting with Gen Y’s roll as a potential member your Lodge, Tulgan notes that Gen Y is the most “work-life balance” focused generation. (The lessons of the lecture on the 24 inch gauge will ring especially true to Gen Y.) As such, the questions in their minds whilst being interviewed for potential membership are not about whether they will fit into your Lodge, but whether and how Masonry will fit into their lives and busy schedules.
Every Mason can remember his first visit to Lodge. The same things that were on your mind then are going through a Gen Y candidate’s mind now. “Where am I? What is this place? What is going on here? … Who are all these people? What role does each person play? How are they accustomed to doing things around here? … Why am I here? What is at stake for me? (Kindle Loc. 1286-93)” The answers today are the much the same as when you were their age, they are just packaged in different terms. This book helps you to speak their language.
There is a polular belief among the older generations that Gen Y arrives expecting the top job from day one (Tulgan’s myth number four). According to Tulgan, this represents not overconfidence, but simply the passionate propensity of Gen Y to take on the unclaimed, uncharted, or undiscovered as the quickest way to gain respect and to be taken seriously. This overconfidence, however, can get Gen Y into trouble in the Lodge Room. Tulgan notes that leaders need to institute a proactive, consistent, and continual mentoring relationship to ensure that these new Entered Apprentices work well with their new Lodge brothers. Remember the lesson of the 4th Degree of the Scottish Rite, "may one command who does not know how to obey?" This teaching the young Mason how to be a proper follower includes spelling out desired behaviors, norms, and communication styles, including the venerable “Masonic Tradition." “You cannot—and should not—teach them what to believe, but you can certainly teach them how to behave. ... [I]t is certainly your place to teach them how to be good citizens within your organization. (Kindle Loc. 1589-61).”
Another dominant Gen Y stereotype that the author seeks to dispel is the belief that Gen Y is generally disloyal or disinclined towards staying in one place for too long. The author counters this myth by describing a new brand of loyalty, one he calls “transactional loyalty.” Unlike the previous generations who were trained to accept the chain of command and long-range rewards, Gen Y’s transactional loyalty is based on optimising their unique needs and wants, which often includes their need to continuously learn from and glean as much as they can from each new encounter. Like the lessons illustrated in 19th Degree, they are very much interested in building bridges to the future. This passion can be harnessed, focussed towards common goals.
“Rigorous self-evaluation is not just a key component of learning good judgment. It is the beginning, middle, and end of self-management. It is the essential habit of self-improvement."
Masters who follow “traditional” management approaches might completely misinterpret Gen Y’s attitudes and behaviors and miss the real value of this generation as key contributors to our country’s Lodges. This book illuminates Gen Y’s many gifts in the Lodgeroom and lays out a outstanding approach to help Masters and Wardens update their leadership styles.
The bottom line is that whilst every generation brings new talents and values to the Lodgeroom, decoding the uniqueness of the Gen Y state of mind makes this book a worth a look. The fact that it’s available both in print and on Kindle makes it even better.