Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
I think today’s reader question is terrific. As much as I like to read, I have to admit that I haven’t put a book list together in quite some time.
Hello Sharlyn. I read an article called “How to Get an Entry-Level Job in HR” that had a few quotes from you. I’m switching careers to HR and looking to go to back to school in the fall. In the meantime, I’m trying to find a good place to start educating myself. I want to begin reading books about HR but there is so much out there which makes it a little daunting on where to start. I was wondering if you had any recommendations.– Ask HR Bartender
Whether you’re just starting in HR or you’ve been in the field for a few years, having a good resource library is important. So here are five books that I refer to on a regular basis.
“How to Measure Human Resource Management” by Jac Fitz-enz is my absolute go-to book for understanding metrics and measurement. I don’t know that it’s a book to read cover-to-cover. I like using it more as a reference guide and reading sections as I need them. I’ve found the book useful in selling ideas to senior leadership and later being able to report on the effectiveness of programs.
“Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Experience Used” by Peter Block is a book about creating value. I discovered this book when I was in an internal HR role and realized the value of using a consulting approach with peers, teams, and senior management. I continue to use it in my role as an external consultant.
“Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan is great for helping individuals and organizations turn ideas into action. As a HR professional, we are often tasked with helping managers, departments, and the whole company turn their goals and strategies into actionable plans. I also feel the book can be helpful to getting individuals and organizations “unstuck” in their plans.
“It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy” by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff is a good reminder that not everything will go as planned. There will be lots of moments when things are wrong, and we have to fix them. Abrashoff’s book is the true story of how he turned the USS Benfold from the worst to the best ship in the Navy.
“Managing the Mobile Workforce: Leading, Building, and Sustaining Virtual Teams” by David Clemons and Michael Kroth Ph.D. is a book that came out well before it’s time. As organizations explore hybrid work, being able to understand the virtual workforce and how to create policies/procedures/systems that will support virtual work is imperative.
There are so many other great books out there but hopefully this is a good start to a HR professional’s library. And, of course, if you want to check out my books, I think they’re pretty good too. If you have some books that you recommend, put them in the comments. We can turn this article into a resource for others.17