Top 5 Books for Professional Development HR Managers

HR Manager

Diving into HR books can significantly bolster your knowledge, providing you with fresh insights, best practices, and innovative strategies to enhance your professional development and effectiveness in the HR field. 

Not only do HR books offer theoretical concepts, but they also provide practical insights from industry leaders and real-world case studies.

In your quest to stay abreast of the latest industry trends, it’s crucial to equip yourself with the right tools. We’ve handpicked the top five books that every HR manager should have in their arsenal.

From understanding strategic HR management and workplace culture to mastering leadership skills and comprehending the impact of technology on HR practices, these five books cover it all.


1. Human Resource Management by Gary Dessler

Regarded as a bible for HR professionals, ‘Human Resource Management’ by Gary Dessler offers a comprehensive exploration into the complexities of managing human resources in today’s rapidly changing and diverse work environment. 

This book delves into the intricate relationship between an organization’s strategic goals and its human resource policies, providing you with a clear roadmap to align your HR practices with your company’s vision.

Dessler’s masterpiece stands out for its real-world case studies and hands-on approach. It’s a book that doesn’t just tell you what to do; it shows you how. 

From recruitment, selection, and training to performance management, this ensures that you understand the why behind every strategy before you learn the how, empowering you to make informed decisions in your HR role.

Moreover, Dessler’s book is future-oriented. It doesn’t just prepare you for the HR challenges of today; it equips you for the ones you’ll face tomorrow. The book discusses emerging trends and technologies in HR, encouraging you to stay ahead of the curve and lead with innovation.

2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

While Dessler’s ‘Human Resource Management’ equips you with strategic HR knowledge, ‘Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t’ by Jim Collins offers invaluable insights into what differentiates successful companies from their less successful counterparts. 

This book dives deep into the mechanics of corporate success and provides a roadmap you can follow to foster organizational growth and resilience.

Collins’ book is based on a comprehensive study of 11 corporations that made the leap from being merely good to becoming great, sustaining their performance for at least 15 years. The book identifies key characteristics that these companies exhibited, which include disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action.

You’ll find it particularly beneficial how Collins emphasizes the importance of ‘Level 5 Leadership’ – a blend of personal humility and professional will. This concept challenges traditional notions of leadership, encouraging you to focus not just on your own success but on building enduring greatness.

‘Good to Great’ also introduces the ‘Hedgehog Concept’, a simple yet powerful idea that drives a company’s transition from good to great. The concept advocates for companies to focus on what they can be best at, and where their passion lies.

3. Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

Within the HR literature, Laszlo Bock’s ‘Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead’ offers a unique inside look at one of the world’s most innovative and successful companies. 

Bock, a former Google SVP of People Operations, provides an in-depth analysis of the distinctive and revolutionary HR strategies that have propelled Google to the top.

  1. Company culture: Bock emphasizes the value of a positive and empowering company culture. He asserts that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it’s the game. By cultivating a culture that encourages creativity and innovation, you’re not just fostering a positive work environment, but also driving the company towards success
  2. Data-driven decisions: Google’s HR decisions are driven by data and analytics. Bock argues that using data to inform HR decisions eliminates bias and allows for more strategic decision-making. It’s not about gut feelings, but about clear, quantifiable metrics
  3. Employee value: According to Bock, Google succeeds because it values its employees and invests in their success. This includes not just competitive compensation, but also opportunities for growth, development, and recognition

‘Work Rules!’ encourages you to rethink traditional HR practices and challenges you to innovate. Be it through data-driven decisions, fostering a vibrant company culture, or placing high value on employee satisfaction, it’s clear that these unorthodox methods have a significant payoff.

4. Strategic Human Resource Management: An HR Professional’s Toolkit by Karen Beaven

If you’re aiming to take your human resource skills to the next level, ‘Strategic Human Resource Management: An HR Professional’s Toolkit’ by Karen Beaven is an invaluable resource. 

This comprehensive guide provides you with a deep understanding of strategic HR management, essential for any HR professional aspiring to make impactful business decisions.

Beaven’s book focuses on a variety of key areas, including talent management, performance management, change management, and organizational development. 

It’s not just about understanding these concepts, but also about implementing them strategically in your organization. Beaven provides practical tools and techniques, helping you navigate the complexities of strategic HR.

This book shines in its ability to merge theory with practice. Beaven incorporates real-world examples, making complex topics understandable and relatable. You’ll appreciate the author’s in-depth discussions on strategic planning, which offer insights into aligning HR strategies with business objectives.

The book doesn’t just stop at strategy. It also delves into the role of HR in cultivating organizational culture and driving innovation. The author emphasizes the importance of HR’s role in fostering a culture that encourages creativity, collaboration, and continuous learning.

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

You might wonder how ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho fits into a list of HR management books, but this globally recognized novel offers profound insights that can shape your approach to leadership and people management. 

While it may not directly address HR strategies or techniques, its underlying themes of self-discovery, pursuit of personal legend, and embracing change resonate with the core responsibilities of an HR manager.

  1. Embracing change: In ‘The Alchemist’, the protagonist Santiago learns that change is a necessary part of fulfilling one’s destiny. As an HR manager, you shouldn’t only adapt to changes in the work environment, but also be a catalyst for positive change, fostering a culture that embraces innovation and growth
  2. Pursuit of personal legend: Santiago’s journey in discovering his personal legend symbolizes the importance of helping employees find their purpose and passion within their roles. In HR management, this translates to creating a work environment that encourages professional growth and personal fulfillment
  3. Listening to your heart: Coelho emphasizes the significance of listening to your heart and intuition. As an HR manager, this could mean trusting your instincts when making decisions or resolving conflicts, and encouraging your team to do the same

Wrapping Up

Dessler’s comprehensive guide to HR management and Bock’s transformative insights from Google; these books will revolutionize your HR practices. You’ll glean wisdom on creating a leap from ‘good to great’, and on strategic HR management from Beaven. Even Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ offers valuable leadership lessons.

In addition to diving into essential HR literature, consider broadening your horizons and read comic books for free. In the colorful pages of comic books, you may discover unexpected lessons that can revolutionize your HR practices.

Let these unconventional sources be your guideposts as well, empowering you not only to excel in your HR role but also to infuse a sense of creativity and innovation into your approach, ultimately driving your organization’s success.