8 Must-Read Books For HR Managers in 2021

We know how hard it is to curate a book list, so we went ahead and did it for you. If you’re looking for inspiration, motivation, and transformation for 2021, then check out our recommendations! We’ve compiled a strong list of eight books that we believe are must-reads for HR managers in 2021.
8 Must-Read Books For HR Managers in 2020
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Updated: November 2020

If you’re anything like us, you’ve got a reading list a mile long. There are so many great books out there that it can be challenging to figure out what to read next. Decision fatigue is real! So in an effort to help you choose your next book, we’ve curated an elite list that comes with the recommendations of some of the world’s top minds. We recommend these books to HR Managers everywhere who want to improve their craft, become more productive, level up their people skills, and take management to the next level.

So without further ado, here’s our list of the 8 must-read books for HR managers in 2021:

1

Thinking Fast and Slow

by Daniel Kahneman

Why we love it:

Thinking Fast and Slow is a masterpiece on how humans think and what you can do to recognize some of your biases. The author, Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel prize-winning psychologist and does an excellent job calling your attention to the unconscious decisions your mind makes for you on a minute-by-minute basis. His breakdown and thorough analysis of  System 1 and System 2 thinking will help you recognize when you’re making assumptions or jumping to conclusions too quickly. It is an absolute master-class on human thinking and will leave you with a new understanding and appreciation for your mind.

Why we recommend it for HR Managers:

The role of an HR manager is challenging because it lies at the intersection of business, technology, and people. Your day is filled with hundreds, maybe even thousands of micro-decisions. To make the best decisions possible, you need to understand your own mind. This book will clue you in on how to evaluate people in the context of your biases, how to recognize when your mind is lagging and needs rejuvenation, and how to properly call attention to mental mistakes and uninformed thinking of your colleagues.

*Who else recommends Thinking Fast and Slow?

2

Mindset

by Carol Dweck

Why we love it:

Carol Dweck’s Mindset is written to help the reader unleash their potential. The book offers incredible insight into how to overcome our personal doubts and fear of failure to do more than we ever thought possible. Mindset explains that the success of any endeavor we wish to embark on can be greatly attributed to how we perceive our own talents and abilities. Those with a “fixed mindset” often make little to no progress when attempting something new. Because they believe their abilities to be “fixed,” they rarely venture from their areas of expertise. In contrast, those with a “growth mindset” have almost limitless potential. They believe that anything can be learned and talents and abilities they don’t yet have can be obtained. 

Why we recommend it for HR Managers:

The HR profession is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. HR pros are not only expected to be great at managing people, but they also need to be technologists, business analysts, and strategic partners. In fact, the strategic shift in HR is creating new and exciting opportunities for those who are ready to level up and embrace this new role. 

Of course, we understand that change can be intimidating. You’re likely very talented at what you do, and it’s hard to think about doing more or doing things differently. But as the world changes, the skills and abilities needed from HR pros will change as well. This book will put you in the right frame of mind to reach your full potential.

*Who else recommends Mindset?

Need help streamlining your HR processes? Eddy’s software is built to make your life easier.

3

How to Win Friends & Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

Why we love it:

This book is what the young kids describe as “an oldie, but a goodie.” Dale Carnegie’s masterpiece on human relationships was written over 80 years ago, but it continues to be the go-to book for relationship building today. The book is jam-packed with simple, actionable steps you can take to do exactly what the title suggests, “win friends and influence people.” At its core, the book unmasks the idea that changing your behavior can directly impact and change the behavior of others around you. Change it in the right ways and you’ll find yourself with more friends at work, more sway in conversations, and direct influence over key decisions.

Why we recommend it for HR Managers:

At the heart of the profession is the word “human.” The number one focus for any great HR manager is the people inside the company. We all know that great people create great businesses. Therefore you must understand what makes them tick, how to communicate with them properly, and how to draw the best out of each interaction. This book has tips for general conversations, persuasive arguments, leadership, and so much more. We think you’ll love how actionable the advice is and how readily it can be applied.

*Who else recommends How to Win Friends and Influence People?

4

Tools of Titans

by Tim Ferriss

Why we love it:

When you see it on the shelf for the first time you’ll likely be intimidated by its massive size. With over 700 pages, there are definitely quicker reads on this list! But we love this book because it is an unending source of knowledge, inspiration, and insight from some of the world’s best and most talented people. Tools of Titans is mostly comprised of short, bite-sized interviews from people like Tony Robbins, Seth Rogen, BJ Novak, Jamie Foxx, and so many more. Interview questions range from topics like “What does your morning routine look like?” to “Is there a quote that guides your life?” to “If you could put any message on a billboard, what would it be?” The book puts you in the minds of the world’s top performers and helps you understand how they think, how they operate, and how they spend their time. We’re not sure there’s a book with more golden knowledge nuggets than this one.

Why we recommend it for HR Managers:

Not every book you read needs to be directly related to your job. While many of the books on this list will shape you into a better HR manager, this book will open your mind to a vast world of improvements that you can make to various aspects of your life.

Not all of it will resonate and not all of it will apply. At the beginning of the book, author Tim Ferriss encourages the reader to “jump around” to find what they’re looking for. And because of the size and depth of the book, we know that you’ll find something that talks directly to you. Whether it’s something to help you be more productive, a habit you’d like to develop, or a framework you’re going to employ, we believe there is something for everyone.

*Who else recommends Tools of Titans?

5

The Checklist Manifesto

by Atul Gawande

Why we love it:

Author Atul Gawande is a surgeon. When he makes a mistake, it doesn’t just cost a business money or make him look bad–it could literally be the difference between life and death. So what has he done to minimize mistakes? Simple. He makes checklists. While it seems like an almost childish idea, Gawande argues that checklists are often the most effective and important tool for getting things done the right way. In a world of technology and information overload, it’s all too common that people simply forgot to perform a task that would prevent an otherwise avoidable error. In Gawande’s words, “checklists provide a cognitive net” that can save us from our human, often forgetful selves.

Why we recommend it for HR professionals:

HR is a task-oriented profession. Much of what you do each day is repeated, either daily, weekly, or monthly. Whether you’re helping a new hire sign their onboarding paperwork, finalizing payroll calculations, updating PTO accruals, or managing employment forecasts, there are many tasks and decisions that need to be right. 

Forgetting to add bonuses to a paycheck or forgetting to file new employment documents with your state can be absolutely catastrophic for your employees or your business. Much of your work requires perfect or near-perfect execution. Understanding how to effectively use checklists will improve your performance and give you peace of mind. After all, if checklists work for pilots and surgeons, they can work for you.

*Who else recommends The Checklist Manifesto?

Eddy’s onboarding checklists ensure your new hires have a great experience.

6

Atomic Habits

by James Clear

Why we love it:

Author James Clear has a no-nonsense style that gets right to the heart of your bad habits. The premise of this book is that you don’t fail because you aren’t trying hard enough, rather you fail because you haven’t created a system that enables you to win. Atomic Habits is all about separating yourself from reliance on willpower and motivation, and rather creating systems in your life that will carry you through when there’s no willpower left. You also learn in this book that big change doesn’t happen overnight. Instead of focusing on immediate, large changes, you learn how to slowly, but effectively change, little-by-little, day after day. These consistent, daily improvements will eventually build the foundation for an unshakeable system of habit that will propel you to greater productivity.

Why we recommend it for HR professionals:

HR is a job that never ends. Every day there are things on your plate, piling up, anxiously awaiting your attention. You’ve got stacks of paperwork to comb through, hiring decisions that need to be made, benefits to administer, disciplinary actions to settle, and never-ending questions from employees about their PTO balances.

Because you’re constantly doing so much, it can sometimes feel like you’re drowning. It might feel like you’re forgetting something or that you never have time to focus on important missions like building company culture. One way to break free of this is by building atomic habits. If you can create a system of productivity, you’ll be able to accomplish more than you ever have, giving you time to take on projects you really love.

*Who else recommends Atomic Habits?

7

Measure What Matters

by John Doerr

Why we love it:

Few books can claim a track record of success like this one. Measure What Matters explains the framework that companies like Google use to achieve their loftiest goals. John Doerr is one of management’s most brilliant minds and he lays the groundwork for his proven formula for success known as OKRs–objectives and key results. The OKR formula is something we’ve used at Eddy to propel our company forward, and it’s something that we’d recommend to any company who is looking to achieve more. Reading this book will not explain how OKRs work, but you’ll understand how companies, people, and foundations around the world have implemented the system and succeeded.

Why we recommend it for HR professionals:

As HR plays a more strategic role in the business, you will be called upon to develop goals for your role and for your department. In the same way that the sales and marketing teams will be expected to hit quotas and generate leads, you’ll need to come up with ambitious goals that will accelerate the success of your business.

To do this, you’ll want to understand the right way to set goals, and then understand how to measure the results. John Doerr’s OKR system will help you get this right. You’ll not only be able to set and measure performance for yourself and your team, but you’ll be able to evaluate how the HR department contributes to the overall goals of the company. Getting alignment within the department and the company will ensure everyone is on the same page and is working towards the same objectives.

*Who else recommends Measure What Matters?

8

Start With Why

by Simon Sinek

Why we love it:

At Eddy, we’re big believers in starting with why. In fact, we’ve already written blog posts inspired by Simon Sinek’s work, because we believe it is vitally important to have a “why” behind everything we do. Start With Why explains that in business, people do not buy what you do, but rather they buy the reason you do it. In the same vein, great leaders do not inspire the masses by telling them what to do, rather they always start with a reason why. In this book, you’ll learn about the “golden circle” where the “why” is at the core of everything, and the “how” and “what” are on the edges. You’ll also be inspired to understand your own why. You’ll ask yourself questions about why you’ve chosen the company you’re working for or why you’ve chosen your profession. Once you can nail down your why you can more effectively inspire others around you.

Why we recommend it for HR professionals:

HR pros are leaders. To be effective, you need to be able to motivate, inspire, and engage the employees at your company. The best way to do this is to start with why. When your employees know the reason why they’re asked to do a task or maintain a company policy they’ll be much more likely to comply. You’ll also be able to build a far better company culture if the employees within the business all understand why you’re working towards the goals and values that you’ve outlined.

*Who else recommends Start With Why?

*The book recommendations from people like Bill Gates and Barack Obama come from the website goodbooks.io. This site gathers book recommendations from influential people around the world and compiles a list of the books these people recommend.

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