Grace Smith
January 8, 2024

It must not come as a surprise to you that upskilling and reskilling is the top priority for nearly 60% of leadership and development professionals. Everyone needs to upskill to catch up with the changes we go through every Monday morning. Especially the HRs of the world. And what better way than picking up a book and actually reading it?! Do not underestimate books because they contain real life experiences of highly successful writers, which weigh far more than anything you can acquire through crash courses and certifications (at least some of them). Let's bring back the joy of reading!

Reading is Not Dead (yet)

We have come a long way as a generation when we talk about technology. But as we welcomed the digital era with open hands, some golden habits have been left behind. Reading books is one such rare art.

If you have not read a book (apart from an academic one, of course) in a long time, let us tell you something: you owe it to yourself to enjoy the pleasure of reading. As an HR manager, books can be one of the easiest ways to understand people. You get to have fun while you learn something useful. Isn't that wonderful? 

Top 10 HR Books to Level Up Your People Success Game

People are simple. But put them in an organization, and they become super difficult to manage. Being an HR manager might possibly be one of the challenging jobs out there. In dire situations, books can help. Here are some of the best human resource management books that has been published in the past decade or so: 

1. Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock

As an HR manager, it is important to understand that hiring the right talent is detrimental to a company’s success. In his book ‘Work Rules’, Laszlo Bock reveals how to attract not just the right but exceptional talent and retain them in an organization. The book goes on to explain how some companies remain extremely successful no matter how much the industry around them changes.

The main insights of the book are based on behavioral economics and human psychology, so you know it’s gonna be good. Essentially, the book revolves around the philosophy of work and how companies can attain long-term success by striking a balance between creativity and structure. I mean, the man was the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, so he knows what he is sayin'!

2. The New HR Leader's First 100 Days by Alan Collins

If you have just joined a company as an HR manager, pick up this book right away! Your first 100 days in an organization are the most crucial ones. Yes, they are. You should not just wait for things to level on their own because, according to SHRM, 31% of new HR leaders fail within their first 18 to 24 months of work.

The sooner you start taking control, the better. And Alan Collins shares his 15 rules that successful HRs follow to make the most of the critical 100 days. Basically, the book persuades you to start strong and gives you the right tools to do so. 

3. The HR Scorecard by Dave Ulrich, Mark A. Huselid, and Brian E. Becker

This comprehensive HR guide is written by not one but three exceptional leaders in the HR world. The book explains how managers can intertwine the HR system with the overall strategy of the company. In other words, it helps HR managers take their roles to the next level by incorporating their actions and goals with the overall company goals.

The book offers a 7 step process that helps HR managers set up a measurement system to identify the impact of human resources on the overall company performance. The book offers KPIs and ROIs to structure the process and filter out the results. If you want to convert HR into a strategic powerhouse, I highly suggest you pick up this book. 

4. The Essential HR Handbook by Barbara Mitchell and Sharon Armstrong

As the name suggests, this book is an essential handbook if you are someone who works in the Human Resource area. It doesn't matter if you are just a beginner or a specialist in the field, this book works for everyone. It covers solutions to everyday problems that HRs face, which include areas like employee onboarding, appraising performances, payroll management, and even coaching employees.

The book gives you tons of tools and tips and acts as a reference guide to which you can always come back whenever you feel stuck. Just buy a copy and keep it by your side, just so that you have someone to guide you during the tough days. 

5. Fire Well: How to fire staff so they thank you by Sue Ingram

Interesting title, huh?

According to Goodreads, the book lives up to its title as well. Filing employees is by far one of the most dreaded tasks HR managers have to do time and time again.

If you have ever wished to give the whole ashy day a turn and make it a bit more chipper for the employees and for yourself as an HR manager, then Sue Ingram has granted you the wish. The book helps HR managers handle feedback conversations like a pro and helps them motivate employees to change for the better.

It also goes deep into the UK employment law and includes key factors that help communicate important messages. And as the name of the book suggests, by the end, your employees will thank you for firing them. 

6. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

Are you a Simon Sinek fan?

If not, you will be after reading this phenomenal book. The book helps leaders change their entire perception of the business world and their views of the industry.

By questioning the very mindset of managers, Simon Sinek helps rewire our brains to play the game differently. Sinek explains that games like business, politics, and life itself (life could be seen as a long infinite game, right?) are not finite in nature.

These games do not have fixed players, no steady rules, and no possible end points. There are no winners or losers either. So, approaching an infinite game with a finite mindset might be what is failing you. Explore more of such mind-boggling revelations in this book. If you loved it, give his other famous book a try (Start with WHY).

7. "7 Habits Of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R Covey

If you have not read this book by now, consider this your cue to do so. I know this is not specifically written for HR professionals, but if you want to be effective in whatever you do, it has to start with you as a person. The book explains 7 super important habits that almost all successful people share and helps you understand what it means to live a life effectively.

It helps you identify areas where you are going wrong and gives you practical tools to make them right. This book is an absolute classic and is considered to be the most influential book of the 20th century. If you want to live as a principal-based individual with a strong character, give this book a read. 

8. The Big Book of HR by Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem

Now don't be intimidated by the ‘big’ part of the book, trust me, it's an easy read. Technology has always been changing, but it has picked up speed in the past two decades. If you somehow feel like you are not able to catch up with the speed, this book can help you. Learn more about diversity, inclusion, and equity and how technology has carried the HR world forward in this breezy read. 

9. Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by David Coyle

In every organization, there are two types of groups: One that ticks immediately and the other that cannot go well together.

What makes one group function efficiently while the other falls apart?

Culture code explores this very statement. David Cole believes that building an innovative and cohesive culture is the key to successful organizations. He tells us what helps groups perform better and explains the factors necessary to build a cohesive work culture. The book also warns the readers of the downsides of a toxic work culture. 

10. 101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees by Paul Falcone

No matter how friendly and conversational of an HR manager you are, there can be some situations that are awkward or hard to handle.

Discussing topics such as laziness, low performance, and sexually offensive behavior are some of the examples, Paul Falcone helps us navigate through such tough situations by providing solutions for each of them. This solution-based book helps HR managers have clear conversations with their employees and get the point through without worrying about the situation getting out of hand.

Put On Your Reading Glasses and Get On With It

Do you want to be an excellent HR manager? Or do you want to be the best?

The only thing standing between you and your goal is your inability to upskill yourself. Keep learning and never stop evolving. The best way to do both of these things is to pick up the right book and start reading. Implement some lessons in your organization and collect feedback from employees. If it seems too much to handle, You can use ThriveSparrow to create these surveys and analyze the feedback results. This way, you can see and measure your learning effectiveness and how well you were able to put the words into action.