Recommended Reading for New HR Grads

By Desda Moss May 13, 2015
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new_grads.jpgBy Nancy A. Woolever

For members of the Class of 2015, there is a great deal to absorb when joining your first organization. Fortunately, there are many books that can help new HR professionals acclimate to work life.

To start, read  Nancy E. Glube’s and Phyllis G. Hartman’s book Never Get Lost Again: Navigating Your HR Career (SHRM, 2009), which contains useful information for anyone embarking on a career management journey. I’d advise recent graduates to ask their colleagues for book recommendations and to find out what business books their peers are reading. Adopting a mindset of continuous learning will help you navigate the work world and serve you well.

It will also be helpful, at the start of your career, to build self-awareness and self-management abilities. These two hallmarks of an emotionally intelligent individual were emphasized at a recent SHRM seminar. Start now to develop your management and leadership styles and to find resources to help you tell your leadership story and build a reputation as an authentic leader.

Two books may help you on that journey. I’ll talk about one of them here. Stay tuned for the other one soon. (Hint: the leadership book is by Timothy Tobin, a speaker at SHRM’s 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas).

Today, I recommend a book that I recently re-read that was particularly relevant to me as an individual whose assessment results consistently show introversion on scales designed to assess introversion and extroversion. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Broadway Books, 2012), by Susan Cain, revealed basic tenets that spoke to me. It is a book that emphasizes the need to be aware of yourself and others, to understand what influences behavior, and to manage yourself and interactions with others in an inclusive way.

Even though I have worked for many years, I’ve always found it helpful to be conscious of how my management style and behavior affect others. One reminder I harvested by re-reading Quiet is that, as an introvert, it is critical to self-regulate to get along with others. The section about the basic differences between extroverts and introverts genuinely helped me understand the sometimes troubling and confusing interactions I have with extroverts (and not just co-workers who are extroverts). Simply stated, we are not wired the same way. I’ve always believed there is no right or wrong style, just different styles. The book helped me examine my own traits to better collaborate with others unlike me.

Here’s what I learned: 

  • I don’t solve problems out loud—I cogitate. This is not a statement on intelligence, but rather an indication of how I gather and process information.
  • I work quietly in the background to influence change; I can fill the role of extrovert if required for a project, but it’s not my preferred work style.
  • Data is important. It helps inform and reinforce my viewpoint once ready to share.
  • Instant gratification has less meaning to me than steady progress toward an outcome. The more meaningful and effective the outcome, the better.

One thought-provoking chapter discusses very successful companies led by introverts—with success defined by common measures. These firms often outperform their competition by a wide margin. This intriguing discussion underscored the importance of not assuming one leadership style or personality type best influences outcomes and business performance.

Quiet is a helpful read for everyone, regardless of what stage you are in your career. It provides meaningful guideposts for young professionals in the context of creating one’s career path. Collaborating with others of varied personalities and abilities will become increasingly important the further one progresses. For more, read this HR Magazine interview with author Susan Cain.

Nancy A. Woolever, MAIS, SHRM-SCP, is director of academic initiatives for the Society for Human Resource Management.

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