Top holiday reads for HR

My social media feed this week has been full of people seeking suggestions for holiday reading. No doubt you’ve already downloaded the latest blockbuster onto your Kindle (or if you’re old-school like me, you’ve been to Waterstones).

But what about taking a bit of business reading to help while away the hours on the plane or poolside? I appreciate that the likes of Dave Ulrich and Malcolm Gladwell may not be quite as suited to the sun-lounger as Dan Brown and Maeve Binchy. But a holiday – when your mind is hopefully less frazzled by the day-to-day demands of work – can be a great time to absorb new ideas and reflect on some of the latest thinking.

Holiday reading for HR professionals

Here are a few ideas for books you might want to look at – and at the end of this blog, a challenge you might want to join me in:

1. HR Disrupted: It’s time for something different 

HR has lost its way and needs to find a new direction. This is the premise of a recent book by Lucy Adams, which explores how we can lead, manage, engage and support employees in a radically different way, more suitable for today’s volatile, ambiguous climate. Adams advocates taking a completely fresh look at the entire scenario, rather than tinkering around the edges. It’s the difference, she says, between spending hours deciding how many grades there should be in an employee grading system, and asking if grading people actually improves their performance in the first place.

2. Inclusive Leadership: The definitive guide to developing and executing an impactful diversity and inclusion strategy

I read a fascinating blog post this week about the growing sense of ‘diversity fatigue’ (endless training programmes and debate, but seemingly little progress), written by diversity specialist Sneha Khilay. The topic does seem to be moving higher up the corporate agenda as a growing body of evidence shows companies with high levels of diversity are out-performing their competitors. If your D&I activities are coming up against organisational roadblocks, you might find some ideas and inspiration in this book by thought-leaders Charlotte Sweeney and Fleur Bothwick. The book is designed to help practitioners drive culture change throughout the employee life cycle, the supply chain and through product development.

3. Leadersmithing: Revealing the trade secrets of leadership

Inspired by the tradition of apprenticeships, this book looks at leadership as a craft that needs daily practice to achieve mastery. Author Eve Poole introduces 17 critical incidents that research has identified as the most common challenges leaders face, ranging from taking key decisions to dealing with poor performance. She then provides 52 weekly exercises which allow leaders to ‘practise’ dealing with these crucial moments. The activities are organised into card suits, which bring together different leadership skills and competencies. Diamonds, for example, represent sharpness (how you can hone yourself as fully deployable resources in any leadership situation), while hearts focus on charm (putting others at ease and being comfortable in social situations).

4. Everybody Lies: What the Internet can tell us about who we really are

HR is constantly being lambasted for not being sufficiently tech-savvy. So why not update your knowledge of data and what we can learn from it in this new book by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. The book is not HR specific, but it will help to widen your understanding of the wealth of data that is available to us, what it can tell us and how we can use it. Covering everything from sex and race to economics and ethics, the book exposes the ‘secrets’ that are hidden in the data that’s all around us and explores how we can draw on it to change our culture and understand ourselves and others better.

5. The Ladybird Book of the Meeting

And finally, what about some light relief in the shape of one of the most recent Ladybird for Grown-ups books. Fed up of wasting hours in pointless meetings, listening to people talk endlessly for the sake of it. Frustrated by team huddles where there’s no agenda and no outcome – just an opportunity to moan and eat biscuits? If meetings are the bane of your life, then this book, with its tongue-in-cheek text and telling images, is for you.

And the challenge is ……

If this list has whetted your appetite for more work-related reading, why not join me on the Strategic Reading Challenge?

It’s an extreme reading challenge with two aims:

  • To help you learn the key skills in the workplace needed for future jobs
  • To help you use global literature to build your intercultural understanding and develop cultural awareness.

It’s designed to help you read actively (both fiction and non-fiction), engaging with the content and combining new information with what you already know.

I’m using it as an opportunity to try and conquer my massive reading pile. You can try it solo, or maybe join up with a group of colleagues so you can discuss what you’ve learnt.

All the details are available from http://theinvisiblementor.com/

I look forward to hearing how you get on.

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