Book reviews

Plain Talk

By: Ken Iverson

Price: #17.99

Publisher: Wiley

ISBN: 0-471-15514-4

This is a book about leadership and life, about business and people, honesty and risk-taking and a whole bunch of things that really add up to how to be successful over the long run.

It will appeal to those with an interest in simplifying working in organisations, and in delivering and achieving results in an ethical and straightforward way.

Plain Talk is presented in a very readable, down-to-earth form and is a connected tapestry of incidents, experiences, anecdotes, reflections and propositions by the author based on practical experience.

This is the sort of book that is easy to flip through and then flip through again – on each occasion picking up more pointers and insights that can be used in practice.

It is not full of jargon, there are no panaceas and – interestingly – there is no suggestion by the author that he knows everything, nor that he is the best, or has “the” answer. It is a good, solid, enjoyable read full of common sense. As the title states, it is “Plain Talking” – go on, you know it makes sense. Buy it!

Michael Walton is a director of People in Organisations

Trust and Transition

By: Peter Herriot, Wendy Hirsh, Peter Reilly

Price: #18.99

Publisher: Wiley

ISBN: 0 471 97929 5

The authors of Trust and Transition make two main points: that trust is a necessary condition of the employer/ employee relationship and that this trust has been lost; and that careers are now a series of transitions rather than jobs.

Following on from this is the proposal that organisations which successfully manage career transactions can, through this, regenerate trust.

The reader is provoked to think about Joshua Slocum (the first person known to have sailed around the world on his own) and draw analogies with his quest. Some may find the analogy clumsy, but it provides a strongly-worked supportive thread to the authors’ discussion that any HR manager or any employee worth his/her salt needs a single handed sailor’s resilience and adaptability as organisational weather patterns change.

Practising HR managers will find this book a good source of ideas for simple and inexpensive measures to help employees through career transactions, and help organisations regenerate the trust needed to improve productivity.

Naomi Stanford is a senior HR consultant with British Airways

Creating a world class organisation

By: Bryan D Prescott

Price: #16.99

Publisher: Kogan Page

ISBN: 0 7494 2583 0

This is about using performance measurement to prioritise and manage change. In today’s challenging environment, a company’s ability to compete is a direct reflection of its ability to manage change successfully.

Identifying 10 performance measures that characterise world class organisations, Prescott details how to assess performance against each measure, and describes changes that have been successfully implemented in organisations to raise performance.

The author uses case studies and research results to expand on common issues underlying the appraisal criteria. He looks at why many firms achieve low scores on various measures such as customer-centred leadership, management of people, training and developing people. He looks at process control and improvement as well as satisfaction of customers, employees, the community and investors.

Very readable and pragmatic, this is a valuable book for any manager wanting to identify key priorities for performance improvement.

Anne Potter is a principal consultant with Blackett & Associates.

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