5 Book Recommendations For Aspiring HR Managers

A company or an organisation is only as good as the employees that work in it. And you as HR Managers or to be HR Managers, will be responsible for bringing the best out of your employees. If a laptop breaks, you can just call for another one, but when an employee leaves, albeit replaceable to a certain extent, the cost is higher. Processes, from recruitment to employee engagement and appraisal is in your hands. Since being in HR involves dealing with people every time, the most important skill that you need to garner is the ‘people skill’. Although this list of books is in no way comprehensive, it offers a way to get you started. And why learn from your mistakes when you can learn from research and mistakes made by others?

  1. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

Very often, we keep doing things the same way but expect different results. If you do want different, better results, you need to change your existing pattern of functioning. This book encompasses the 20 habits that hold you back from getting ‘THERE’. Even though it is more inclined towards project managers, it helps you understand that all battles cannot be won using the same strategy. If your employees or team are in a rut, and no matter what you do they can’t seem to get out of it, it’s time to read this book and change your ways!


  1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Humans are a creature of habits. And your employees, hopefully would be humans too. If you can’t understand why a particular person is doing something or isn’t being productive – the reason may lie in the habits that the person has. This book uses research to explain how habits are formed and can be changed. This becomes essential to understand where a particular person is coming from and how to deal with them efficiently. The essence of this book involves identifying what cues the bad habit, use reinforcements in the form of rewards or appreciation for the good parts and then work towards adjusting to the new routine.


  1.  Thinking, Fast and Slow

Why do people do what they do? Are humans prone to making irrational decisions or jumping to conclusions? Why are the decisions taken based on shortcuts not always foolproof? Are humans inherently lazy? Answers to these and many other questions would be answered in this book. This book encompasses not only what you think but also why and how you think. It reads like a textbook but by the time you are done with it, you’d be blown away. So how does it help for you as an HR Manager to read it? The answer for it brings me back to the fact that as HRs, you’d be dealing with people and this book is all about how, why and what people think. One step closer to understanding the thought process of your employees.


  1. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

Change is literally the only constant thing. But being creatures of habit (see point 2), we tend to run from change and reject even when the change may be good for us. The main point of the book is – Things change and you need to learn how to adapt. If you are in HR, change management is an inevitable function which you will have to follow through at some point in time. In this book, Spencer makes use of a small fable involving two mice and two men and their experiences in the ever-changing world of cheese hunting in a maze. This book will help you realise the nature of change, the resistance as well as the importance of acceptance of change.


  1. Emotional Intelligence: Why it Matters More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

If you’ve wondered why people who are smart or have really high IQs sometimes don’t do very well in life, then this book will open your eyes to the world of emotional quotient and answer that very question. Basically, Emotional Intelligence includes: self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy and social skills. Wondering why this book is for you? Well, it’s quite simple. Instead of just focusing on academic profile of a candidate or the IQ, you also take into consideration the emotional maturity of the person. You then leverage the EQ and channel it in the direction which is suitable to the person. It’s the kind of book you need which will help you realise that to do well in the practicalities of life, what you need goes beyond academic abilities. It’s a must read book for any Manager, whether in HR or not.

Like I mentioned previously, this is not an exhaustive list. It’s just a beginner’s guide to understand people and more importantly YOUR people – employees better and to hone your people’s skills. And it’s just not the books that can help you understand and relate to people in a better way but also movies. One such movie which is a must-watch for HR Managers is ‘12 Angry Men’.

Though the theme of ‘12 Angry Men’ is quite heavy and you as an HR Manager may not have someone’s life in your hands, it definitely helps you understand the importance of group dynamics and how individuals behave in isolation as well as in groups. In this movie, 12 men are locked in a room to decide the fate of an accused. Initially, 11 out of 12 men agree to close the case by convicting the accused but the one person who stands against the verdict makes everyone debate on it. There’s drama, there’s hostility, there’s resistance and so much more. Basically, all that you’d encounter at some point in time at your workplace.

Give these books and movie a try and let us know if they helped you in any way. If you have any books or movies that helped you become a better HR Manager, share in the comments below!


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