Books in Brief

By Nicole Gauvin and Leigh Rivenbark Apr 1, 2007

HR Magazine, April 2007The Essentials of Project Management; more.

The Essentials of Project Management
Society for Human Resource Management and Harvard Business School Press, 2006
List price: $39.95, 326 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59139-924-7

Human resource professionals often get pulled into all kinds of projects, from overhauling the employee handbook to outsourcing HR activities. The Essentials of Project Management outlines the four phases of project management, the players involved in any project and ways to improve your project manager skills.

The key to successful projects is winning support from the executive team. The book offers the following practices to overcome roadblocks:

Cite HR trends. Study what analysts are saying about HR trends, and then use that information to persuade executives to support your initiative.

Show how your initiative supports other strategic projects. Identify important business initiatives already under way, then work to place your project within those programs.

Calculate ROI. Explain how your project will cut costs, boost revenues, improve productivity, lower risk and generate other forms of value important to your company and executive team.

Prove HR’s importance. Present research showing the link between human capital practices and business performance.

Prepare responses to key questions. Ensure that you can answer questions such as: How will your project reduce the company budget? How will costs increase or revenues decrease if your project is not implemented? How will your project make things easier for the workforce and managers? Will data be more accurate?

Content series adviser Wendy Bliss, J.D., SPHR, subject adviser Robert Austin, and writers Lauren Keller Johnson and Richard Lueke also offer lessons and tips on how to handle the obstacles and challenges of managing HR projects.

An excerpt from this book, “Project Team Leader,” is available online.

The Essentials of Strategy
Society for Human Resource Management and Harvard Business School Press, 2006
List price: $39.95, 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59139-822-6

Strategy creation “is about doing the right things and is a primary concern of senior executives and business owners. Implementation is about doing things right, a very different set of activities. Both senior executives and lower-ranking managers must give implementation intense attention—because even a great strategy is worthless if people fail to carry it out properly.” The Essentials of Strategy is about implementation—aligning the right people, agreeing on performance measures, determining the resources needed and celebrating milestones.

Self-assessment tools throughout the book allow you to test your understanding of strategic HR management, diagnose your HR department’s maturity level and determine if your implementation team has the “right stuff.”

HR professionals who want to enhance their HR department’s strategic impact can use a worksheet the book provides to generate ideas for improving their HR department’s ability to formulate and implement corporate strategy.

Subject adviser David J. Collis, series adviser Wendy Bliss, J.D., SPHR, and writers Lauren Keller Johnson and Richard Lueke all contributed to this book, the last in the Business Literacy for HR Professionals series.

An excerpt from this book, “Is Your Unique Competence a Sound Basis for an Effective Strategy?,” is available online.

12: The Elements Of Great Managing
By Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter, Ph.D., Gallup Press, 2006
List price: $25.95, 233 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59562-998-2

Drawing on more than 10 million sets of responses to its questions, The Gallup Organization says it has found what makes employees most productive: employee engagement, the belief by employees that their opinions count, their co-workers want to do good jobs and their missions are worthwhile.

Gallup’s research and interviews uncovered “the 12 elements of work life that define the unwritten social contract between employee and employer”—in short, a dozen keys to employee engagement, say authors Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter, a principal and a chief scientist for The Gallup Organization, respectively.

In case anyone thinks the idea of engagement is about soft, feel-good initiatives, the writers add evidence that engagement benefits the bottom line through less absenteeism, less turnover and less inventory theft.

12: The Elements of Great Managing is the follow-up to First, Break All the Rules, a best-selling business book of a decade ago that also was based on Gallup research.

Chapters discuss how growth opportunities, recognition and even friendship at work affect engagement, and how the tricky nature of pay can reinforce engagement but doesn’t guarantee it.

Nicole Gauvin is the SHRM Editorial Coordinator and Leigh Rivenbark is a freelance writer and editor in Vienna, Va.

Inclusion of a book does not imply endorsement by SHRM or HR Magazine.


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