Not a Member?  Become One Today!

HR Magazine Book Blog

Execution Is the Strategy

By Laura Stack
Berrett-Koehler, 2014
List price: $17.95
262 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60994-968-6

Purchase from the SHRMStore

Remember the days of the three- or five-year strategic plan? The offsite planning retreats, the detailed financials, the long-term plans for the brand or the company? Those days are gone. Strategy today must be flexible and executed swiftly, according to author Laura Stack.
In Execution Is the Strategy, Stack walks readers through four steps for executing strategy efficiently and swiftly:
Leverage. Get the right people and resources to do the work. For leaders, Stack advises on using staff effectively, including tips for selecting employees, assigning duties, nurturing innovation and delegating work appropriately. A self-assessment for leaders gauges whether they are micromanagers who stifle independence. Other leadership tools include tips on communication and a list of behaviors managers should model for employees.
Environment. Culture, engagement and a positive work environment matter to execution. Stack details how to build a cooperative culture that embraces change and encourages innovation. She also looks at how to improve accountability and what to do when an employee fails and needs to be held accountable.
Alignment. Employees’ day-to-day tasks should move them toward the organization’s larger strategic goal. Readers learn about clarifying the decision-making process; defining a mission, vision and goals aligned with the bigger picture; and creating a viable strategic plan. They also learn signs of a failing project and when to let go of a project gone wrong.
Drive. Leaders, teams and employees must be able to move quickly once they have the resources, people, culture and goals in place. Stack shows how to speed up decision-making, remove obstacles, and eliminate time-wasters such as unproductive meetings and “analysis paralysis” that choke progress.

Trustology: The Art and Science of Leading High-Trust Teams
By Richard Fagerlin
Wise Guys Press, 2013
List price: $14.99
174 pages
ISBN: 978-098939160-3

Purchase from the SHRMStore

Lack of trust in working relationships creates turf battles, low engagement and suspicion. The result is poor productivity and an undesirable work environment. Trustology aims to teach readers to trust others, and to create a culture of trust in their work teams.
Author Richard Fagerlin says the problem is that people believe trust must be earned at all times. They keep mental score of whether employees are or aren’t earning their trust each day. But Fagerlin’s prescription for high-performing teams takes a different tack: Stop keeping score and making trust conditional on certain behaviors. Just trust.
Fagerlin examines why trusting others is worth the risk and how trust within teams affects teams’ operation. He notes that trusting others doesn’t mean ignoring problems, and he prescribes ideas for filling what he calls “gaps” in trust.
Leaders learn that trust is the confidence that others will do what they say they’ll do, that they are competent to do their jobs, and that they have your best interests at heart. Fagerlin includes tools and tips for:
--     Improving employees’ skills and knowledge so that they become more competent. Get feedback about your own leadership and its shortcomings. Learn more about your team members and what motivates them.
--     Analyzing the current trust level in your team. Fagerlin includes a trust assessment quiz for teams, another for individuals, and guidance on how to interpret results and discuss them with the team.
--     Defining gaps in trust among your team members. Do people assign blame to others? Does a team member hoard knowledge in order to keep power? Do team members fail to listen to each other? These and other trust gaps directly affect productivity. Fagerlin helps leaders assess whether issues are problems requiring resolution or tensions that just need managing day to day.
--     Using personality tests so you can understand how your team members think. Learn your members’ social awareness models—how they view the world: “Everyone thinks like me” or “Nobody thinks like me” or “I think differently from others” and more.
--     Practicing “candor with care.” Learn to be frank about problem behaviors while still showing compassion.

Ego vs. EQ
By Jen Shirkani
Bibliomotion, 2014
List price: $27.95
185 pages
ISBN: 978-1-937134-76-1

Purchase from the SHRMStore

Eight “ego traps” can snare successful leaders. These leaders think they’re running things when, in reality, their own egos are in control—and the results aren’t good. Leaders who listen to their egos can undermine diversity, strangle initiative and end up oblivious about the organization’s real work.
Ego vs. EQ outlines ego traps, how to recognize each one and the antidotes to remedy them. Author Jen Shirkani dissects how leaders can fall into these behaviors unwittingly and how the behaviors affect others. Key ego traps discussed include:
Ignoring feedback you don’t like. Leaders might assume that no news is good news—if they hear nothing about their performance, they think they must be doing fine. Or they might solicit feedback but throw out whatever is negative. Shirkani looks at how 360-degree feedback, turned into actionable steps for the leader to take, can make feedback meaningful.
Surrounding yourself with more of you. If executives hire those with whom they get along beautifully, they may be hiring people who will never challenge them. Executives need to use a careful hiring process that weeds out their own biases; they also need to seek out opposing points of view.
Not letting go of control. If the boss controls resources, steps in on decisions and believes nothing gets done without her, she’s stifling managers and workers. Shirkani guides executives to be more self-aware and question whether they are overinvolved and can delegate more.
Being blind to your downstream impact. This trap means the leader, often impulsively, disrupts the organization—calling imperative meetings out of the blue, claiming that a menial task is urgent, or requiring others to drop everything to do a new task on an unrealistic deadline. The book urges slowing down and evaluating whether a request, initiative or meeting will send mixed messages or interrupt workflow.

Optimizing Organization Design
By Ronald G. Capelle
Jossey-Bass, 2014
462 pages
List price: $49.95
ISBN: 978-1-118-76373-5

Purchase from the SHRMStore

Some employers balk at organization design initiatives, thinking that a clear design will make them bureaucratic and crush innovation, says Ronald G. Capelle. But Capelle makes the case for clear and careful organization design being vital to performance and productivity.
Capelle guides readers through organizational redesign, from assessing needs and overcoming pitfalls through introducing a new design to the workforce. The advice is rooted in more than 100 large-scale design projects done by Capelle’s firm.
Users first learn about assessing organization design, including vertical and functional integration of positions. Where should each position be within the organization? Why is the relationship between the manager and his direct report the single most important element in organizational design—and why do most organizations get that relationship wrong? How do you break down silos? How do you align people, deliverables and tasks to positions?
The book covers the major factors for design, including setting the project’s scope; project management; people management; the roles of work teams, education, training, managerial work and feedback; and sustainable improvement.
Capelle introduces his Optimizing Organization Design approach and takes readers through:
--     Initial discussions.
--     Proposal and contract.
--     Assessment, report and meetings.
--     Implementation.
--     Sustainment.
Several topics get special attention for their roles in organization design. The role of boards of governors is the first, as Capelle looks at why boards should promote optimal design (and why they often fail to do so). He also examines why project management, which is so significant to good design, is often weak. Finally, Capelle discusses how to enhance compensation appropriately.

Compiled by Leigh Rivenbark, a freelance writer and editor in Vienna, Va.