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Summer Reading Guide for People Managers

Our favorite new books to help you be a better manager.

Summertime, and the livin' is … well, let's face it, it hasn't been so easy these days (apologies to Messrs. Heyward and Gershwin). So what better way for all manner of managers to beat the summer heat than by curling up with one of these recently published guides to more-effective people management?

Looking to get unstuck or collaborate better? Eager to empower your staff or win the war for talent? Planning to muster resources so you're ready for the future of work, or perhaps just hoping for a tidier workspace? Scroll on because we have just the books for you.

Happy reading!

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen (Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster, 2020)
Feeling like all you ever do is put out the same fire over and over? It's time to take preventive steps to stop the cycle for good. In his first solo work, Dan Heath, a senior fellow at Duke University's CASE center, which supports entrepreneurs fighting for social good, makes a strong case for shifting resources "upstream" to focus on preventing problems rather than endlessly creating cures. Full of well-told, real-world stories you would expect from a Heath brother (Dan and his brother, Chip, have written four New York Times best-sellers), Upstream shows us how to get unstuck by fixing the systems and developing the solutions that will prevent problems downstream.
hr rising
HR Rising!!: From Ownership to Leadership (SHRM, 2020)
In a much-anticipated follow-up to his best-selling book HR on Purpose!! (SHRM, 2017), popular blogger, speaker and industry thought leader Steve Browne shows us what a powerful global force the HR profession can be for bringing about meaningful change in the workplace and the world. With fresh insights for general managers and HR professionals alike on topics such as fostering collaboration, developing credibility and building trust, Browne challenges the reader to make a fearless assessment of what she is really doing to improve her organization, her people and herself. Where HR on Purpose!! reminded readers why they got into HR, HR Rising!! shows them how to excel in the field. And, as always, Browne's lyrical delivery never fails to amuse and entertain.
Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams (Harper Business, 2020)
We humans have two fundamental desires: to stand out and to fit in, says author Stefanie K. Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of management in the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder. As a result, organizations often end up having one group where everyone fits in and no one stands out, or everyone stands out and no one fits in. Informed by her research on the intersection of leadership and diversity, Johnson helps leaders find a middle ground where workers can revel in their individuality and feel they belong. By harnessing the power of uniqueness and belonging, leaders can foster engaged teams with a wide range of perspectives and innovative ideas that drive real value.
Unquittable: Finding & Keeping the Talent You Need (SHRM, 2020)
Jim Bitterle has helped hundreds of companies become more talent-minded, and the hard-won techniques outlined in this book can be adapted for organizations of any size and can deliver extraordinary bottom-line improvements with relatively little upfront investment. Laugh-out-loud stories about how to implement and, just as important, how not to implement talent strategies bring to life some of the personalities and issues employers can expect. Winning the war for talent requires more than good intentions—success requires conviction, investment, confidence and time—and Unquittable delivers an engaging compendium of solutions and insights to the most challenging issues facing anyone who hires and manages people.
without authority
Leading Without Authority: How the New Power of Co-Elevation Can Break Down Silos, Transform Teams, and Reinvent Collaboration (Currency, 2020)
In his previous book, the best-seller Never Eat Alone (Currency, 2014), master connector Keith Ferrazzi revealed the secrets of successful networking, and his new book about redefining collaboration is an apt and timely follow-up. Ferrazzi, founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, a management consulting and team coaching company that works with many of the world's largest corporations, draws from more than a decade of research and years working with leaders to "reboot the way we work together" by "co-elevating" colleagues and partners to teammates. The ability to lead without authority is fast becoming an essential workplace skill, and the best part is you don't need any formal authority to make it happen. The former chief marketing officer at Deloitte and Starwood Hotels says you simply have to commit to a shared mission and care about the success and development of others as you would your own.
joy at work
Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life (Little, Brown Spark, 2020)
Fun fact: The juggernaut that is Marie Kondo started in the workplace. Just after graduating college, she worked in human resources for a large Japanese company, where, the story goes, she tidied up her boss's desk. He was so pleased that he felt compelled to tell her to consider doing this for a living. Kondo, however, needed little encouragement to go on tidying up the world. In her new book, with co-author Scott Sonenshein, a chaired professor at Rice University and the best-selling author of Stretch (Harper Business, 2017), Kondo applies the wildly popular KonMari Method to creating a joyful work environment. Joy at Work will help you systematically and spiritually overcome the challenges of workplace mess and enjoy the productivity, success and happiness that come with a tidy desk and mind. And if you're lucky, you'll discover what's really important to you along the way. 
end of jobs
The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations (Post Hill Press, 2020)
In case you missed it, the future of work is officially here. Tectonic shifts now underway are shaping the future of work, says Work Market founder Jeff Wald, and he offers a practical framework to understand these work trends so leaders can begin to prepare for the future. Required reading for anyone who's thinking about the future of work and HR tech—and perhaps even more so for those who haven't yet started—Wald's book presents thoughtful, data-driven assessments of how new technologies (artificial intelligence, automation, etc.) will impact the future of work, employment and the economy. Wald also features predictions from other thought leaders, including SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP.
Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader's Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You (Harvard Business Review, 2020)
Full of superb stories, this book first dispels an enduring misapprehension for many leaders—it's just not about you—then makes clear that a leader's job above all else is to unleash potential in others. Through insight drawn from their extensive work teaching leaders and companies how to thrive, authors Frances Frei, a Harvard Business School professor, and Anne Morriss, a top leadership coach, offer research-based testimony that trust is a competitive advantage and the best leaders create the conditions for others to become increasingly effective and fully realize their own capacity and power. In a fresh and moving take on the Servant Leadership philosophy, Frei and Morriss argue that for organizations to thrive through thick and thin, the mandate for leaders to empower should resonate even after the leader has moved on. 

Matt Davis manages the SHRM Book Publishing program.

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