9 books every HR professional must read in 2020

Reading is an act of civilization; it’s one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities. —Ben Okri

9. The Harvard Business Review Manager’s Handbook: The 17 Skills Leaders Need to Stand Out

must read HR booksPacked with step-by-step advice and wisdom from Harvard Business Review’s management archive, the HBR Manager’s Handbook provides best practices on topics from understanding key financial statements and the fundamentals of strategy to emotional intelligence and building your employees’ trust. The book’s brief sections allow you to home in quickly on the solutions you need right away.

Some of the skills covered in the book include:

  • Taking on a leadership role
  • Creating trust and credibility
  • Developing emotional intelligence
  • Becoming an influencer
  • Developing your leadership skills
  • Giving effective feedback
  • Fostering creativity
  • Learning the basics of strategy
  • Getting familiar with financial tools
  • Developing a business case


8. HBR’s 10 Must Reads: On Managing People (Harvard Business Review Must Reads)

Must read HR books

If you read nothing else on managing people, read these 10 articles. We’ve combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles and selected the most important ones to help you maximize your performance.

This book will inspire you to:

  • Tailor your management styles to fit your people
  • Motivate with more responsibility, not more money
  • Support first-time managers
  • Build trust by soliciting input
  • Teach smart people how to learn from failure
  • Build high-performing teams
  • Manage your boss

This collection of best-selling articles includes:

  • featured article “Leadership That Gets Results” by Daniel Goleman,
  • “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?”
  • “The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome,”
  • “Saving Your Rookie Managers from Themselves,”
  • “What Great Managers Do,”
  • “Fair Process: Managing in the Knowledge Economy,”
  • “Teaching Smart People How to Learn,”
  • “How (Un)ethical Are You?”
  • “The Discipline of Teams,” and
  • “Managing Your Boss.”


7. HR Here and Now: The Making of the Quintessential People Champion

Must read HR books The vision of the authors Ganesh Chella, Harish Devarajan and VJ Rao is to engage readers in a debate on how we see HR as a function and profession here and now. The intent is to reflect on what we are seeing, hearing and experiencing about the function in an inclusive fashion.

HR here and now offers a practitioner’s take to human resources management as a profession and function keeping in mind the most current and contemporary practices, problems and perspectives in India. The book truly reflects HR as it is practiced today with stories and  case studies.

Shorn of all theory, this book raises and answers questions

  • Given the rapid advancement in the profession, should the term HR be redefined?
  • Why does the quality of the function depend so much on the way it is positioned within the organisation?
  • What shapes a CEO’s attitude towards HR?
  • What are the big demands on HR today and in the future?
  • How does one advance in HR?

Written by practitioners with first-hand Indian HR experience, HR Here and Now is one of the few books on HR from an Indian perspective.


6. HBR Guide to Coaching Employees

HR must read books Help your employees help themselves.

As a manager in today’s world, you can’t just tell your employees what to do: You need to help them make their own decisions, enable them to solve tough problems, and actively develop their skills on the job.

Whether you have a star on your team who’s eager to do more, an underperformer who’s slowing the group down, or a steady contributor who feels bored, you need to upskill them: Help shape their goals—and support their efforts to achieve them.

In the HBR Guide to Coaching Employees you’ll learn how to:

  • Create realistic but inspiring plans for growth
  • Ask the right questions to engage your employees in the development process
  • Give them room to grapple with problems and discover solutions
  • Allow them to make the most of their expertise while compelling them to stretch and grow
  • Give them feedback they’ll actually apply
  • Balance coaching with the rest of your workload


5. Corporate Chanakya

Chanakya’s strategies and insights applied to the modern day corporate world.

A pioneer of economics and political science in India, Chanakya was one of the most brilliant, tactful and shrewd economists and strategists of the Mauryan Era. Building the entire Mauryan Empire can be attributed to Chanakya’s witty principles and out of the box strategies. The modern day world is a witness to innumerable business empires which need effective management to remain at par with growing competition. The author makes use of the aphorisms or sutras proposed in Chanakya’s book called Arthasastra (Economics), in the management and functioning of modern day businesses.

Corporate Chanakya is divided into three major sections – Leadership, Management and Training. The author chooses the most apt sutras to provide tricks to achieve success in all these fields. in the leadership section he explains the importance of a leader’s foresight, vision, enthusiasm and positive approach to handling situations. The author also gives you tips on making effective decisions, time management and creating a lasting impact to generate business.


4. The Toyota Way – 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer

“Never be satisfied with inaction. Question and redefine your purpose to attain progress.”

“The Toyota way” talks about a manufacturing philosophy “The Toyota Production System” (TPS) also known as “Lean Production”, which made it the world’s most profitable automaker.  TPS is a sophisticated system of production in which all of the parts contribute to a whole. Jeffrey K. Liker describes 14 management principles an organization should embrace.

These principles are divided into

  • Philosophy: The mission of a company should focus on factors that contribute to the growth of the company and wellbeing of the employees.
  • The Process: Implementation and advantages of the Lean manufacturing process:
  • People and Partners: Discusses the company’s most valuable asset its employees. They must be empowered to make decisions and participate in continuous improvement
  • Problem Solving: It is important to have consensus in the implementation phase of the process. All problems should be solved with the consensus of all the team members. Toyota focuses on creating a process that made the manufacturing process quick and reliable with minimal waste to produce the best quality automotive with the best price to value ratio in the market.


3. The Magnetic Organization: Attracting and Retaining the Best Talent

Most successful companies now manage talent to maintain their competitive advantage. Professor Dipak Kumar Bhattacharyya’s new book has captured strategies and proven practices to build a world class workforce.

Ever since the phrase “War for Talent” became a part of the HR manager’s dictionary, there have been numerous seminars and discussions on the topic. Finally Professor Dipak Bhattacharyya has succeeded in creating a Go-To and How To book which has a comprehensive road map to win the war! His concept of an employer as a talent magnet captures very succinctly today’s needs of organizations visà- vis talent management. This book will be helpful to all those with a serious interest in talent management.




2. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action

 “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek repeats these two phrases a multiple times during his famous TED Talk. It’s a simple concept that is incredibly empowering: “Why” is the inspiration that makes people follow you or buy your products. “Why” might include your belief system or why you get up in the morning, and for Sinek, you should be able to express it in words.

Sinek’s believes that products that are infused with the “why” of a company’s existence will be more successful than those that are based on “what” or “how.” Throughout the book, he relies on the examples of Apple, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Wright brothers as successful thought leaders that inspired people with their use of “why.” Apple’s “why” is to challenge the status quo.Dr. King’s “why” was to change America with the civil rights movement. Orville and Wilbur Wright wanted to learn to fly more than they wanted to make a name for themselves or create a fortune, although they succeeded in doing all of those things.

In one sense, the book is about marketing. For example, Sinek talks about how inspiration is more effective at influencing human behavior than manipulation.

In another sense, the book is a reminder that we need to reconsider what brings meaning to our lives and those that we employee. The leader of a company needs to be clear, in his/her mind, why the company exists and to be able to express it to employees. A clear why will allow a culture to form around it and help the organisation better enable its employees to serve its clients.


1. Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Books every hr must read In Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, Patty McCord the creator of the Netflix Culture Deck and 14 year veteran at Netflix tears down the old way of managing teams and corporate culture and presents the reader with an alternate way to recruit, motivate and create great teams that better suit this new, fast paced, agile obsessed landscape we now find ourselves in. The result is a company with the culture of ‘Freedom & Responsibility’. Patty’s compelling account of the culture that made Netflix succeed should be required reading for everyone who wants their business to thrive in the 21st century. A natural-born storyteller, McCord shows us how the Netflix `methodology’ of radical honesty, debating everything and relentlessly focusing on the future can set us up to win in the 21st century. With Powerful, McCord challenges, entertains, and inspires as she sets out how we can bring out the best in ourselves and others.”

This book delivers is a guide to creating a work environment that allows people to behave in a more human manner, where trust, integrity, respect, discipline, truth and adulting are the common behaviours that underpin how to be successful in this rapidly changing new world order and why companies operating in this new landscape of constant evolution and adaptation need to operate in this manner if they want to genuinely deliver on customer benefit and grow their business.

It does this by positioning the concept of agility as much more than a process and placing it firmly into the sphere of a mindset. Importantly, this book demonstrates how this mindset helped shape Netflix into the company it is today.

Tell us in the comments below if there is a book that didn’t make into the list.


Leave a comment

More interesting blogs by 247 HRM

Human Resource Management (HRM) services are now more efficient, accurate, and data-driven thanks to new technology. Modern HR management software automates tasks that are done repeatedly, like handling paychecks and.....

Performance management is at the heart of our strategic approach to increasing employee productivity and organizational efficiency. It includes defining clear targets, providing consistent feedback, and thoroughly analyzing progress toward.....

Scroll to Top

See How Our HRMS Solutions Can Benefit Your Business

Enter Your Details To Get Started With The Demo!

See How Our HRMS Solutions Can Benefit Your Business

Enter Your Details To Get Started With The Demo!