Books in Brief

By Leigh Rivenbark and Nicole Gauvin. Sep 1, 2006
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HR Magazine, September 2006The Comprehensive, All-in-One HR Operating Guide; more.

The ComprehensiveAll-in-One HR Operating Guide
By R.J. Landry, The Society for Human Resource Management, 2006
List price: $149.95, ISBN: 1-58644-067-5

You need to write to an immigration officer in another country, requesting entry for your company’s employee to help set up a new facility. Then you have to respond to an equal employment opportunity charge by writing a letter to a government agency. And don’t forget that memo to employees announcing the new incentive program.

HR professionals handling everything from performance appraisal to insurance to the annual ice cream social will find letters, memos, forms, statements and more, already written and ready to customize and use, in The Comprehensive, All-in-One HR Operating Guide.

Compiled by R.J. Landry, group vice president of HR for B/E Aerospace Inc., this set of two CD-ROMs offers templates for several major HR topics—including strategic planning, employment, compensation, benefits, employee services, employee relations, labor relations, organizational development and planning, safety and security, general administration, and international HR.

Strategic planning documents include sample mission and vision statements, memos summarizing strategic planning sessions, a sample “HR annual tactical plan” and more. Employment documents cover activities like sourcing (placing job ads, employee referral programs, hiring temp agencies), interviewing and selection, college relations, new hire orientation, and equal employment opportunity programs.

Documents on compensation and benefits deal with pay plans, performance appraisal, health benefits and more. Employee and community services documents range from memos about company charity campaigns to memos about holiday events. Employee relations documents relate to discipline, staff reductions, closures or layoffs, employee recognition, and more. Labor relations topics cover negotiations, grievances and arbitrations, and other activities. Safety and security memos and letters describe how to respond to an emergency; announce safety training; provide guidelines for electrical, forklift, machine and other equipment; and more.

Landry cautions that the documents “are not intended to be published ‘as is’ ” but should be altered to meet users’ needs. Users may need to consult with legal staffs before sending documents.

The guide comes with a user’s manual that lists the CD-ROMs’ contents and has samples of some of the documents. The CD-ROMs come in two formats—Portable Document Format or PDF, readable using the free Adobe Acrobat reader available on the web, and Rich Text Format or RTF, which allows users to open files in many word-processing programs.

The Accidental Trainer
By Nanette Miner, Pfeiffer, 2006
List price: $35, 185 pages, ISBN: 0-7879-8046-3

No training department? Just have HR handle training. Or managers, or subject matter experts. They can train other folks, right?

Author and training consultant Nanette Miner has met plenty of people who were “thrust into the role of training” this way and have had to pick up training skills on their own. In The Accidental Trainer, Miner wants to prevent untrained trainers from reinventing the wheel. She says her advice is generic enough to adapt for different organizations, and she urges readers to consult the book when and as needed, treating it as a resource guide with chapters that are independent of each other.

The book includes basics of the training role; the time management, project management and organizational skills the accidental trainer needs; a look at technological tools; a primer on creating training programs and events from start to finish; information about free and low-cost training resources; and discussion about creating a customized training offering. Miner uses lists, charts and boxed sets of tips to present the information.

As a one-person or part-time training department, you may play the role not only of training designer but also of presenter, marketer and even facilities manager. (For instance, before you start a class on using a web-based tool, did you check whether the conference room where you’re holding class has Internet access?) Miner suggests building initial support for your training efforts by gathering information about training needs, establishing relationships, and marketing and communicating the value of training.

Miner includes a chapter on creating a training budget and proving why it’s worthwhile. This short course includes quick ways to estimate budgets and ideas for keeping budgets trim, from bartering courses with other organizations to providing downloadable materials instead of already printed ones.

To help the novice trainer manage time, Miner offers sample “to-do” logs, a travel planning form, tips on sorting e-mail and setting priorities, and project planning help such as worksheets and Internet resources.

Because more than 70 percent of all workplace training is still classroom-based, the accidental trainer will likely have to produce training programs like workshops, lectures, retreats or videoconferences, Miner says. Whatever form the classroom-based training takes, trainers can use the book’s training program planning guide as a template. The guide covers choosing the location, setting up the room, deciding on dates and times, and determining audiovisual and handout requirements.

Miner examines whether and when to buy training and resources from outside vendors and includes a worksheet to help you decide what you need from vendors, a sample request for information to send to potential vendors, and a sample vendor-client agreement.

Creating custom training programs in-house is tough for the accidental trainer but may be required. Miner reviews how adults learn, covers types of training from on-the-job to e-learning, and gives a primer on training design. She includes questions to ask managers and employees about training needs and helps trainers identify training objectives. The book covers creating, distributing and evaluating custom training.

Built to Change
By Edward E. Lawler III and Christopher G. Worley Jossey-Bass, 2006
List price: $29.95, 334 pages, ISBN: 0-7879-8061-7

The management flavor-of-the-month trend that promised to make an organization more flexible, more profitable, more competitive often becomes just another set of discarded slogans. Why? Because “internal barriers to change are so strong,” write Edward E. Lawler III and Christopher G. Worley in Built to Change. Most organizations simply aren’t designed to change readily.

Traditional corporate design doesn’t accommodate change, as Xerox found when it failed to capitalize on the early personal computer it developed, for instance. Smaller start-up companies had nimbler decision-making processes and moved faster.

The problem isn’t with individual leadership but with organizational design, Lawler and Worley argue. They present a “built to change” model that incorporates strategizing, creating value and designing for change, with change always revolving around a stable organizational identity and core values.

Lawler, founder of the University of Southern California’s Center for Effective Organizations, and Worley, a research scientist at the center, recommend ways for organizations to transition from traditional structures to a built-to-change structure. Organizations need to focus on the external business environment and accept change as natural and ongoing. Look at the future and accept that it may hold several possible outcomes, not just one.

The “ability to change is more valuable than efficiency, or at least … effective change is much more valuable than the alternative,” the authors say.

Lawler and Worley offer strategies for embracing change, including:

  • Craft a series of temporary advantages. Consider the organization’s basic identities—is yours a product or service firm? Employee-driven? Dividends-driven? How does your product or service differ from others? Then focus on strategy, a process through which the authors walk readers with ideas on strategic reviews, gaps between actual and desired performance, decisions about transformation vs. simpler reorientation, and other strategic issues.

  • Create jobless structures. Organizational structure is thought of as “a way to distribute the work” when it should be a process to “develop the competencies and capabilities” the organization needs. Lawler and Worley say getting customer feedback is vital (it motivates employees better than feedback from executives); note the roles of teams, virtual relationships and business units; and stress that you may need to create new, more independent business units to handle new business areas.

  • Have a built-to-change employer brand. You need a consciously created employment strategy. Options are a “commitment to development” approach or a “travel light” approach that acquires and discards talent as needed and doesn’t commit to internal development. The book looks at how written employment contracts help attract the right talent and how to identify and communicate the employer brand.

  • Make people responsible for their careers. You can’t employ people based on loyalty but must focus on skills. Change-friendly organizations need to manage turnover and layoffs better, measure their human capital, know what skills their employees have, and make employees responsible for their own development and career choices.

  • Make reward practices transparent and link rewards to skills, knowledge and organizational performance. Lawler and Worley explain how motivation works and how trust and transparency—believing what your managers say about rewards and being able to see all policies and practices for yourself—are vital for built-to-change organizations. The book also examines why merit-pay plans don’t really motivate better performance, why bonuses are more effective, and whether profit sharing, stock ownership and reward for innovation work.

The Essentials Of Power, Influence, And Persuasion

The Society for Human Resource Management and Harvard Business School Press, 2006
List price: $39.95, 272 pages, ISBN: 1-59139-819-3

This book is part of the seven-book Business Literacy for HR Professionals series, which was developed jointly by Harvard Business School Press and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to educate HR professionals at all levels in the principles, practices and processes of business management. Drawing on rich content from Harvard and SHRM, the books in this series provide a comprehensive overview of the concepts, skills and tools that HR professionals need to be influential strategic partners in their organizations.

According to Sue Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM, “Among the top items business executives want from HR professionals are a strong understanding of business and the marketplace in which they operate. SHRM and Harvard are working to ensure that HR professionals have the resources to meet these expectations.”

Power, influence and persuasion are key ingredients for success in the human resources field. This book offers advice and tools for effectively commanding attention, changing minds and influencing decision-makers, from CEOs to front-line managers. HR professionals today work side by side with senior executives to devise a strategy for their organizations and to marshal the talent and resources to implement it. That means going beyond the traditional HR domain and mastering the fundamentals of all aspects of business and management.

The subject advisers for The Essentials of Power, Influence, and Persuasion, Lauren Keller Johnson and Richard Luecke, worked with content series adviser Wendy Bliss, J.D., SPHR, to address the problems encountered by HR, such as how to build credibility as a human resource professional, how to maneuver within your organization’s hierarchy and how to forge positive relationships with higher-ups.

The assessment tools throughout the book will help you gauge your personal credibility as an HR professional; map your sphere of influence; determine the health of your social network; and create an action plan for strengthening your power, influence and persuasion skills.

An excerpt from the book, "Leveraging Your Power Through a Strong CEO Relationship," is available at

The Essentials Of Corporate Communications And Public Relations
The Society for Human Resource Management and Harvard Business School Press, 2006
List price: $39.95, 311 pages, ISBN: 1-59139-819-3

The FBI is at your doorstep. Your CEO has just been arrested for embezzlement. One of your employees has robbed a local bank. What do you do now?

When it comes to communicating information, your skills as the messenger can make a big difference in how you come across to your employees, members, shareholders and the media. The book takes you through the basics: communicating with external audiences, communicating with employees, managing issues and communicating during a crisis. Each chapter ends with a summary and a list of critical questions such as, “Do members of your HR department interact regularly with local, regional or national news media?” and “Why is it important that employee communication be considered a process rather than an event?”

This book is part of the Business Literacy for HR Professionals series. The Essentials of Corporate Communications and Public Relations is written by subject adviser Lin Grensing-Pophal, M.A., SPHR, and content series adviser Wendy Bliss, J.D., SPHR. An excerpt from the book, “How to Communicate During a Crisis,” and more information about the book is available at:

Also in this series:

  • The Essentials of Power, Influence, and Persuasion.
  • The Essentials of Negotiation.
  • The Essentials of Finance and Budgeting.
  • The Essentials of Managing Change and Transition.

Leigh Rivenbark is a freelance writer and editor in Vienna, Va., and Nicole Gauvin is SHRM Editorial Coordinator. Inclusion of a book does not imply endorsement by SHRM or HR Magazine .

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