HR manager's bookshelf (August 12, 2002)

By Ray Brillinger
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/12/2002

Whether you’re an HR generalist or specialist, an external or internal consultant, these books should be useful resources.

The Trusted Advisor

addresses key objectives of HR leaders and consultants everywhere: how to gain trust, move beyond subject matter expertise and service roles, and provide clients with the advice and guidance they seek. Other titles provide intervention and meeting tools to support a wide range of applications and purposes, including team problem-solving, performance improvement and broad-based organization change.

The Trusted Advisor

By David Maister, Charles Green and Robert Galford
240 pages, Touchstone (2001)
Hardcover version, Free Press (2000)

Earning trust is an essential step in being accepted as a credible adviser who delivers value to clients, gets called on early and often for help with complex issues, and is recommend by clients to friends and colleagues. This book provides detailed guidance on key capabilities like listening, demonstrating understanding, defining problems, managing expectations and setting appropriate levels of intimacy, fun and self-expression in the process. The authors outline a clear, five-step process for developing trust:

•Engage: to focus attention and set the tone;

•Listen: earn the right to define the problem and solution;

•Frame: the issues to move forward with clarity;

•Envision: objectives and alternate realities; and

•Form: commitment to problem resolution and action.

This is a veritable bank vault full of wisdom aimed at

consultants, lawyers, engineers and corporate staff

, but also very relevant for HR professionals. It will strike home with readers who work as advisers and who want to increase the value of their contributions. The book contains numerous examples and anecdotes, is written in non-technical language, and offers frequent lists of steps, considerations and dos and don’ts. Readers who struggle with the difficulties of client politics and feel the stress of the working relationship and interaction with key clients will appreciate the messages here. There is advice for dealing with tough clients, such as those who say, “You don’t understand our business,” or “You’re the expert; just tell us what to do.”

Flawless Consulting Fieldbook & Companion

By Peter Block and “30 flawless consultants”
480 pages, Jossey Bass (2001)
Available from Wiley Canada,

Peter Block’s 1981 book,

Flawless Consulting — a guide to getting your expertise used

, is viewed by many as a unique resource in the field. The


contains case studies, sample scenarios, hands-on tools, client-consultant dialogues, action plans and implementation checklists. Some of the highlights include:

•consulting as capability building;

•leading from behind;

•nightmares in consulting;

•dealing with resistance;

•the power of conversations at work; and

•creating a more participative, productive workplace.

One chapter explores common fears (being a fool, being abandoned, being assaulted, being insane), while another addresses changes in consulting in the new economy.

As with

Flawless Consulting

, the intended audience includes

independent consultants

, those working for large firms, internal corporate

change agents


organization development practitioners

. “This book is meant as a companion for people who are doing consulting — that is, anyone attempting to help others effect a change in their lives or work. It is also meant for those who use consultants, for the more we know about the theory and practice of consulting, the better the chance that we will get what we bargained for.” The approach is not dry or academic, but personal and creative. It’s both practical and whimsical, and will appeal to readers with an interest in examples and experiences from others who have “been there.”

The Consultant’s Tool Kit

Edited by Mel Silberman
354 pages, McGraw Hill (2001)
At bookstores or

Leading practitioners contributed the 45 tools presented in this book: team and organizational assessment questionnaires, team problem-solving activities and how-to guides for diagnosing and solving client issues. Highlights include:

•assessment of organizational leadership competencies;

•does the strategic plan provide a competitive edge;

•is it a learning organization;

•moving from training to performance improvement;

•how to plan and analyse surveys;

•dealing with management resistance to change; and

•balancing change and stability.

External and internal consultants, trainers, facilitators and performance improvement coaches

will be able to use the tools provided here. The book will be a useful resource for HR practitioners who want to help individuals or groups improve their planning and decision-making; establish successful teams; sharpen coaching skills; and build a positive climate for change. Readers looking for ready-to-use materials will find the book meets their needs. Each individual form, template or handout can be downloaded from a Web site, then customized for particular groups and situations.

The GE Work-Out

By Dave Ulrich, Steve Kerr and Ron Ashkenas
261 pages, McGraw-Hill Ryerson (2002)
At bookstores or 1-800-565-5758,

At General Electric, the work-out methodology has been used for many years to cut through bureaucracy to solve performance and organizational problems quickly and effectively. Cross-functional and multi-level teams develop new ways of thinking about problems and propose recommendations to make dramatic changes in processes and practices. To enable the Work-Out teams to see their ideas implemented and results achieved, senior level attention and approval follow quickly after recommendations are made. The book advises readers “how to implement GE’s revolutionary method for busting bureaucracy and attacking organizational problems fast.”

CEOs and

business process reengineering consultants

have studied the GE Work-Out approach for years. This book will be of interest to those groups, as well as

performance improvement


change agents

who want to apply the method first-hand. Readers looking for detailed guidance and examples will find them here.

HR leaders

will also be interested in the book’s recognition of


as a culture change strategy, with potentially far-ranging implications. Readers in financial services will also appreciate the in-depth case study of how Zurich Financial Services U.K. used


to transform the company.

The Seven Strategies of Master Negotiators

By Brad McRae
326 pages, McGraw-Hill Ryerson (2002)
At bookstores or 1-800-565-5758,

McRae teaches negotiating skills internationally in both the public and private sectors. Here he profiles Canadians who have achieved outstanding results through effective negotiating, including:

•Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, who reopened Sarajevo Airport to deliver supplies to war-torn Bosnia;

•Buzz Hargrove, who leads union bargaining with the Big Three auto companies;

•Frank King, who led the Calgary 1988 Olympics to a $46 million surplus; and

•Janet Conners, who successfully fought for compensation for those people who contracted HIV from blood transfusions.

The audience for this book is


of all stripes. It will appeal to those who find inspiration in true-life stories and appreciate the opportunity to learn from examples that cut across business, government and social sectors and issues. Readers will find insights in how to:

•understand negotiating styles: yours and your partner’s;

•develop creative options to maximize value;

•determine critical outcomes and choice points; and

•build strategic alliances.

On Track: Taking meetings from good to great

By Leslie Bendaly
247 pages, McGraw-Hill Ryerson (2002)
At bookstores or

The 50 “tips, tools and techniques for high-performance teams” presented here will also apply to other general kinds of meetings. Worksheets, checklists and step-by-step approaches are provided in every topic area, for example:

•the “meeting map,” includes objectives, agreements, and the best route to take through a meeting;

•decision-making methods;

•checks on process, logic, feelings and creativity;

•dealing with conflict and difficult behaviours;

•meeting leadership styles; and

•skills in effective questioning.

Meeting facilitators

are the intended audience for this book — those individuals asked to lead a group of colleagues in reaching decisions and objectives, often with short notice, and armed only with a flip chart and their wits. The book answers questions like:

•How can I generate full participation?

•How should I deal with senior people in meetings?

•Should I have a timed agenda?

•Can I be an effective facilitator when I am also a team member or leader?

•Where can I go to develop facilitation skills?

Ray Brillinger is a senior consultant with the IBM Consulting Group. He provides change management, business transformation and organization effectiveness services to client organizations. He can be reached at (905) 316-8733 or

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