What's on Your Bedside Table?


Hey, HR! What’s on your bedside table? Probably a glass of water. Your phone. Other unmentionables. If you’re like me, you always have books, whether in original form or some e-reader. And, as usual, the pile keeps growing as my intentions exceed my capacity to get through all of these recommended and critically acclaimed tomes.

I am a voracious reader. Sometimes it feels like I am at the bottom of an avalanche of material that I want to read and can’t get to. I consider it an important part of professional life to not only stay abreast of what is going on in HR, but also what new research, findings, analysis and tools are coming out of marketing, finance, communications, public policy and other topics. That means my reading list is long. I finally decided this month to sign up for Audible. Having the option to not only read, but also to listen to the books on my list is helping me catch up a little.

Anyone who has previously signed up knows that Audible gives you two free book selections. These are the ones I chose:

Braving the Wilderness, by Brene Brown

The Asshole Survival Guide, by Robert Sutton

I’m just now getting around to listening to these books, but I’ve heard about them from other HR pros who are reading them now. At COSHRM2017 this past week, I got some great insight about the second book from my friend Leon Cerna of HRAdvantage, in his entertaining and useful session, “Don’t Be a Jerk at Work.” Apparently, some of the survival tips include “quit your job” and “document everything.” Neither one of those pieces of advice is really all that practical, from the perspective of those of us in HR. Dr. Sutton’s first book was really a game changer for me, and his sentiments were echoed by Ariana Huffington at the Zenefits Shift conference last week-she encouraged us in HR not to tolerate bad behavior, because it has real and potentially devastating consequences, especially for women. Since she is on the board at Uber, she has seen this firsthand.

Other great books I’ve read this year are HR on Purpose !! by the great Steve Browne, Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker, a couple of books on the Cleveland and Taft administrations (I’m a huge early 20th century American history buff) and some other very useful HR books by Morag Barrett and Sharlyn Lauby. If I had to account for every word I read, then by far the most of them come from the NY Times and SHRM, including Roy Maurer’s fantastic articles and the wisdom my network imparts during #nextchat. I read and think about and discuss the information I glean from these sources all the time. Does it matter what the Catalonians are saying about secession? Why didn't Puerto Rico get the same urgency in emergency response as Houston or Tampa, and does it have to do with geographic barriers, or institutional racism? What can we in HR do about the lack of stability in the health insurance market due to the failed repeal and replacement of the ACA, and how can we minimize its negative effect on our organizations’ employees?

I’m thinking about making a commitment to read (or listen to) one book every month in 2018. I know that this isn’t a novel idea for a resolution, but I still think it would be a good way to make sure I’m broadening my horizons (and getting to the bottom of my book pile). It seems like all of the people I admire are writing about something thought-provoking and cool. I need to clear out the backlog to be ready for the next year's newly published works. Who’s with me?

What are you reading, HR?

Photo credit: Alexandru Ilie2012 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA