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From Brené Brown to The Future of Work: 5 Books You Need to Read as an HR Leader

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Looking to stay current with the latest strategies and trends in HR? If so, there’s no shortage of books dedicated to ideas and topics that matter to you. The question is, how do you sift through them all and find the best ones?

We’ve done our due diligence and compiled a list of five of the best new books that delve into topics essential to the world of HR. They all bring a fresh perspective to problems you’re likely to be facing. Whether you’re struggling with the talent shortage or dealing with the many pressures of leadership, these books deliver sound, practical advice along with a dose of inspiration.

1. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

We all know great leadership requires courage. For Brown, that courage is about embracing uncertainty and allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

A bestselling author whose TED talks have earned her worldwide acclaim, Brown’s new book draws from her work with transformative leaders around the world. She distills what she's discovered into a set of key ingredients that make for a better and more daring leader.

Peppered with stories that illuminate how great leaders behave, the book is a roadmap for anyone seeking to up their game and fulfill their personal and professional vision. The examples apply to the types of challenges HR folks encounter all the time. How to have tough conversations. Setting boundaries. Dealing with rapid change.

Throughout, Brown emphasizes that courage requires moving out of your comfort zone. Instead of trying to keep the messy, emotional stuff at bay, she urges stepping into it. Recommended for those seeking both inspiration and practical guidance.

2. High Velocity Hiring by Scott Wintrip

If you're like most people in HR, your biggest challenge is filling open positions. Everyone agrees there aren't enough qualified candidates to go around. But what if the much discussed talent shortage is more myth than reality?

As a longtime HR consultant, Wintrip boils down three decades of experience into a six step system anyone in hiring or leadership can follow. He argues there's more than enough talent out there. The problem is that hiring is broken.

High Velocity Hiring offers a practical guide to fixing this problem. For example, the typical approach is “slow to hire and quick to fire.” Wintrip says that in today’s fast-paced market, employers need to make hiring decisions fast or they’ll lose out on the best talent.

Wintrip’s system is built around strategies that take a proactive approach to hiring. This means cultivating talent in advance rather than waiting for a position to open. The book lays out how to do this most effectively.

High Velocity Hiring is a must read for anyone struggling to staff a company with the best people. It's also a refreshing take on a seemingly intractable problem.

3. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink

As they say, timing is everything. But how do you know when it’s the right time to do things—and when your timing is all wrong?

Most of us assume timing is a combination of luck and guesswork. But in his book, Pink demonstrates timing is a science and, as such, can be mastered.

Drawing from the latest cutting edge research, Pink’s book gives readers a timetable for making the best choices as to when to take different actions. As he puts it, the book is a “when to,” rather than a “how to.”

Though written for a general audience, it applies to the decisions HR folks make on a regular basis. This includes: how to time such actions as hiring, recruitment efforts, and firing. The book also will help you understand how personal patterns matter when deciding when to schedule meetings or structure employees’ days. All in all, an insightful, entertaining, and useful read.

4. Reinventing Jobs by Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau

There’s no question the world of work is about to undergo a radical change. Thanks to artificial intelligence and automation, many jobs will cease to exist. It’s even possible that companies as we know them will disappear.

The authors of Reinventing Jobs have spent decades helping companies stay ahead of the curve in light of new technologies. From this, they’ve developed a four step system for managing the coming changes.

The book shows how jobs will need to be taken apart and seen in terms of tasks rather than single entities. This means changing the structure of the organization to fit. The approach gives companies the flexibility to determine what can be automated, and what should be handled by human beings.

It also means that while some jobs will be lost, others can be reconfigured. They’ll become less siloed and departments more fluid. There will be more contract and at will employment.

Reinventing Jobs serves as a guide to navigating the future of work. It takes a deep and systematic look at what is on the horizon and offers specifics on what companies and individuals need to do to make the most of it.

5. Radical Candor by Kim Scott

If you've ever wished you had a coach to guide you on how to be a good manager, Radical Candor could be the answer to your prayers. In her new book, Kim Scott, a former Apple and Google exec who now leads classes on how to be an effective boss, unveils a simple but powerful approach.

The idea behind Radical Candor is this: to be a good boss you have to do two things. First, you must care about the people you manage. And second, you must deal with them in a direct and honest way.

For those in HR, the book can be instructive on two levels, both as a guide to dealing with your own managerial challenges and as a framework for handling problems with other managers and staff.

A practical resource that cuts through the complexity of workplace relationships, the book provides guidance on what makes for good and bad feedback—and how to make employees feel valued while showing them how to succeed in their roles.

Radical Candor is filled with examples, advice and stories from Scott’s experiences in the trenches of Silicon Valley. Written in an engaging style and full of stories, it’s a great addition to any HR pro’s reading list.

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