Read less, talk more

Everyone I know has written a book. My social media feeds and email inbox are all full of friends, colleagues and contacts exalting their new publications. Whether it is recruitment and resourcing, learning or the latest stream – HR Disruption/Transformation/Reinvention – they’ve all got the answer to the questions you never knew you had.

And I can tell you right now, you don’t need to read them.

I’m not suggesting that reading per se is bad and I’m certainly not saying that there aren’t brilliant leadership, management and business books out there. I’m suggesting that there are a disproportionate number of titles to the needs of leaders, managers and businesses. ¬†And I’m suggesting you’d be better off talking to your employees and colleagues, rather than reading the latest HR trope.

There are a couple of key questions you need to ask yourself based on whether the author is a practitioner or academic:

When did you do this? What were the results you experienced?

When did you research this? How was this been evidenced and peer reviewed?

Look at the vast majority of the profiles of these “authors” and you’ll see a list of the times they’ve spoken about the topic and the articles they’ve written, they’ll rarely talk about actually having done anything.

Compare this with your employees who spend all day doing the work that you’re trying to change/improve/increase. They’re in your organisation every day experiencing the environment and the culture that you are the guardian of. They’re able to give you better quality feedback on pretty much every single aspect of your organisation than a faceless hack.

So next time you’re tempted to put your hand in your pocket for the latest “must read” from some obscure publishing house, ask yourself whether your curiosity and desire to learn couldn’t be better directed towards the people all around you. They’ll certainly have better qualified answers, and you’ll save yourself money at the same time.