6 Books That HR Leaders Should Read

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Last updated:
December 21, 2021
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6 Books that HR leaders should read to inspire your reading list in 2022.

Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or you’re just getting started in the field, there’s always something to be improved –– particularly given how much the world of human resources is constantly evolving.

A lot of that constant improvement comes naturally on the job. But it can also be gained from external sources, and where better to learn than from books? In this piece, we’ve compiled a shortlist of books that every HR professional should read.

1. Turn the Ship Around

This is a book about handing leadership to everyone in an organization and teaching them responsibility, accountability, and effective communication. In this review from Candost’s Space, it is noted that

“There are significant practical and applicable suggestions and recommendations throughout the whole book."

The general feeling is that while the book is not inherently about leadership in companies, the messages in the book fit right in with what companies and employees are trying to achieve. It is thus an excellent read for anyone in HR seeking to empower employees with more agency.

2. Primed to Perform

In "Primed to Perform", the authors look at how an understanding of human psychology can help organizations and employees achieve sustained innovation. They also mention the “ToMo” (Total Motivation) Factor, which helps organizations to keep tabs on their cultures and make improvements over time.

"Primed to Perform" focuses on employee development –– without which 40% of employees will leave a company within just one year, as we mentioned in a post on 6 Effective Employee Development Methods.

3. Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World

This is a book that was published in 2020, by none other than Vivek Murthy, the 19th surgeon general of the U.S. A summary of “Together” on Scribd states that the book makes a case for loneliness as a health concern, and one that affects our performance in class, at work, and at home.

"Together" goes on to give some lessons and advice on how to stave off loneliness, with tips such as “help and be helped” (as service is a form of connection that reminds us of our own self-value).

All in all, it’s a great read for those of us suffering from loneliness and involuntary solitude as the pandemic drags on. From an HR perspective, it will help to foster empathy and understanding for employees struggling with hybrid or work-from-home arrangements.

4. Investing in People: Financial Impact of Human Resource Initiatives

In this book, HR measurement is said to have the following analytical foundations: operational reporting, advanced reporting, strategic analysis, and predictive analysis. Readers will incorporate foundational principles such as risk, return, and economies of scale and use them to evaluate everything from work/life programs to training.

"Investing in People" also includes ways to incorporate HR with enterprise strategy and budgeting. It is more of a direct manual than the other books on this list, but a very useful one in many respects.

5. The Talent Delusion

This is an easy-to-read book that offers some basic rules for classifying talent across any field or occupation. It discusses the Pareto effect (20% of the effort or workforce accounts for 80% of the outcome), together with maximum performance, effortless performance, and “personality in the right place”.

Waiyan Can describes The Talent Delusion as indispensable -and with good reason. It’s highly recommended for any HR professionals who deal with recruiting and measuring employee “talent".

6. How to Win Friends and Influence People

This is a classic book filled with sensible advice that’s as sound today as when the book was published in 1936. The main idea permeating "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is that you can change other people’s behavior if you start by changing your own. It offers suggestions for how to handle people by being sincere and avoiding criticism, and how to convince people of your way of thinking.

A review on the New York Times (originally written in 1937!) describes the book as “brisk and cheerful, emphasized by personal anecdote”.

We hope that these books bring a bit of clarity to the occasionally murky waters of HR management –– especially given our current situation and the upheaval of “traditional” methods in the workplace. Each one is quite helpful in its own particular way.

- exclusively written for zavvy.io By Polly Perkins -


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