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HR Magazine Book Blog

Got a Solution? HR Approaches to 5 Common and Persistent Business Problems
By Dale J. Dwyer and Sheri A. Caldwell
SHRM, 2014
217 pages
List price: $33.95
ISBN: 978-1-58644-366-5

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In this pithy, step-by-step guide, authors Dale J. Dwyer and Sheri A. Caldwell walk HR professionals through practical solutions for five common problems businesses face. Got a Solution? doesn’t delve into theory. Instead, the book helps readers address specific problems quickly.
Dwyer and Caldwell want HR to come up with “solutions that senior managers typically will not consider”—solutions that will show how valuable an asset HR really is. The book deals with the following problems, which were picked by CEOs as top concerns:
--Vision, strategy and management fads. Creation of company strategic plans and vision statements gets treated as an independent, top-down project—cut off from the reality of day-to-day processes and the knowledge and needs of employees at all levels. Dwyer and Caldwell offer steps for using small groups to find out the organization’s core values and to create vision and strategy.
--Competitiveness. How does an organization stay competitive when business changes so rapidly? Part of the answer is that companies need to learn from market data, from their own employees and from their mistakes.
--Laws and regulations. Organizations need to understand what changes to laws and regulations mean for them and their workforces. The authors outline why they recommend buying employment practices liability insurance, what the Affordable Care Act requires, how to conduct a benefits utilization review and how to analyze the impact of laws on a specific workplace.
--Competition for talent. Attracting and keeping the best employees is important to employers. Ways to do this include focusing on competencies rather than on job descriptions, identifying competent current employees and creating selection methods that identify competencies.
--Change. Employers worry about the social and technological changes around them. Do they have the right technology? Do changes in society’s values affect how they do business and how they deal with employees? Dwyer and Caldwell provide steps for matching technology to the organization and for ensuring that a company’s values fit with society’s changing expectations.

The Inclusion Imperative
By Stephen Frost
Kogan Page Ltd., 2014
333 pages
List price: $29.95
ISBN: 978-0-7494-7129-3

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Based on the experiences of the committee that organized the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, The Inclusion Imperative offers diversity lessons for businesses and organizations.
Inclusion isn’t just about social responsibility; it saves money and improves efficiency for employers, writes Stephen Frost, former head of diversity and inclusion for the London Organising Committee. He urges organizations to move away from diversity programs and toward real inclusion.
Diversity is about differences and inclusion is about “bringing those differences together to add value,” Frost writes. He contrasts true inclusion with “Diversity 101” programs that are top-down initiatives created to meet quotas and satisfy legal requirements. Unlike these initiatives, inclusion finds business benefits in people’s differences and also treats diversity as a social responsibility.
Frost details how inclusion gains customers, creates a positive brand and improves productivity because employees who feel they can be themselves at work are likely to work harder. Inclusion also improves decision-making and creativity thanks to the varied opinions and experiences at the table.
Frost compresses the Olympic organizers’ five-year effort into a process he calls “understand, lead and deliver.”
Understanding includes knowing the history of diversity and inclusion in the organization and identifying the business benefits of inclusion.
Leading includes empowering lower-level staff to lead and come up with diversity initiatives. Olympic organizers asked top executives to champion specific aspects of diversity, created stakeholder forums and set up a corporate sponsors group to update external stakeholders about diversity. Staff networks advised on topics including ethnicity and sexuality.
Workforce management included finding outside partners in recruiting (for example, the London committee worked with the local Muslim community to spread the word about jobs). Another tactic is running resume workshops for targeted candidates. The committee worked with its contractor workforce on contractor diversity.

Employee Surveys That Work
By Alec Levenson
SHRM and Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2014
138 pages
List price: $22.95
ISBN: 978-1-62656-119-9

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Alec Levenson lays out how to improve employee surveys, making them clearer while ensuring that they measure the right things. He examines the use of confidentiality and anonymity, explains how statistical modeling works, and teaches how to look for meaningful responses.
In Employee Surveys That Work, Levenson covers these areas:
--Survey purpose and audience. Learn to set priorities for your surveys—both for the topics you cover and the target audience you’re going to survey. Going after multiple levels of employees and covering too many topics is tough.
--Employee engagement. How much emphasis should you put on measuring employee engagement? Engagement isn’t really the business performance boost that many management books claim, according to this volume. The benefits of engagement are mostly felt by employees, rather than employers, Levenson argues.
--Appropriate match between questions and roles. Learn to tailor questions to the roles and processes that are the chosen priorities. Know when to measure group issues and individual issues separately.
--Survey design. Levenson reviews good practices in survey design and guides readers toward sources for questions so they don’t start from scratch.
--Anonymity. When do you need anonymous surveys, and when do you need to match individual employees with their replies? How do you balance the honesty that comes with anonymity against the need to get data on specific employees’ performances?
--Analysis and action.Levenson shows pitfalls of oversimplified results and analyses and says employers too often use external benchmarking when they should look internally for benchmarks.
--Statistical modeling. Leverage statistical skills to get the best interpretations of survey data. Many organizations simply average their survey responses, which seldom produces actionable data. Statistical models of survey responses can give more insight but need to be presented in ways nonanalysts can interpret.
--Benchmarking. While benchmarking works for some initiatives, it’s not necessarily a good choice for employee surveys. Comparing your survey results with those of other employers may not provide helpful information; Levenson recommends doing internal benchmarking for more useful results.

How the World Sees You
By Sally Hogshead
Harper Business, 2014
424 pages
List price: $29.99
ISBN: 978-0-06-223069-0

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How do you seize—and hold—attention for yourself, your projects, your work? How do you identify your strengths and then make others see your value?    
In How the World Sees You, author Sally Hogshead demonstrates how you can understand the world’s perceptions about you and figure out which of your personality traits are valuable to others. She offers her assessment tool, called the “Fascination Advantage,” to help you uncover:
--Your top two individual advantages—the most influential aspects of your personality, the things that make others listen to you.
--The “danger zone” situations at work where you are most at a disadvantage.
--The archetypes of different ways of thinking at work. Understanding these archetypes means you can hire people with the right archetypes to build your team, meet your needs or mesh with your own particular archetype.
Hogshead, using a decade of research on more than 250,000 participants, first has readers pinpoint their own advantages. Do you possess an innovation advantage and speak the language of creativity? Or are you a listener whom others can’t figure out easily, so you have the advantage of mystique? Hogshead describes seven advantages, including mystique, innovation, passion, power and trust.
The personality archetypes combine these advantages, and the savvy manager navigates the advantages. For instance, the coordinator archetype combines the advantages of alertness and passion and does well with projects requiring both quantitative and qualitative information.
For every archetype, Hogshead identifies the most valuable trait, discusses how to work with that archetype effectively, and offers “one-minute coaching” to point out strengths and weaknesses of each archetype.

Compiled by Leigh Rivenbark, a freelance writer and editor in Vienna, Va.