3 Easy Reads for Workplace Culture Change

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Let’s face it, Human Resources (HR) teams deal with a lot in the workplace and it all surrounds employees and culture. HR is responsible for many different areas. These areas range from recruitment to performance management, employee relations to labor relations, and they all lead to one overall concept: Culture. Workplace culture drives results.

HR is in the middle of everything and together with management, responsible for driving culture. A company cannot be successful if there are no results. It can be extremely challenging for HR because we have many responsibilities in the workplace. (To learn more about the many responsibilities, click here).

Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.

-Simon Senek, Author & TED Speaker, “Start With Why”

In my HR career, there have been several different books that have helped our teams in understanding employee culture and driving positive results. I will be honest, reading books entirely is a challenge for me and I tend to like fast reads or ones that have an audio version as you will see. Here are a few books that have helped HR influence change in workplace culture as well as personal development!

Your Employees Have Quit – They Just Haven’t Left: Nine Fundamental Principles to Engage and Transform Your Workplace Culture by Rich Schlentz

  • Read: Easy (medium print)
  • Pages: 176
  • Format: Paperback, Kindle
  • Click the picture below for additional info!

Doesn’t the title just grab you? This is a must-read for any level of leadership!

When new management enters a facility, territory, and/or location, change is imminent and usually expected. The author uses real-life personal stories and humor to outline his 9 engagement principles to transform workplace cultures. He also shares feedback from leaders who have learned from his training. In addition, they also share how these principles have transformed their own workplace cultures successfully.

Each of the 9 principles has its own chapter laid out like this: Scenario – Suggestions on how to make things better – Recommended action steps. It is an easy read.

The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman

  • Read: Average (small print)
  • Pages: 222
  • Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
  • Click the picture below for additional info!

The Oz Principle ties lack of accountability in the workplace, both individually and organizationally, to The Wizard of Oz. Did you ever think there was a deeper meaning to that movie let alone make it relative to work?

The Oz Principle relates the great storylines from one of the most beloved movies of all time to show how victimization leads to lack of accountability. Think about how the Wizard of Oz journey went – they were all victims using that as an excuse for trying to get where they needed to go:

  • Dorothy was lost
  • Scarecrow didn’t have a brain
  • Tin Man didn’t have a heart
  • Lion had no courage

By the end of their journey, they all realized they had what they were missing the whole time! Dorothy woke up at home and the others realized they did have a brain, heart, and courage and it all lived within themselves. The moral of the story is… “when you assume full accountability for your thoughts, feelings, actions, and results, can you direct your own destiny; otherwise someone or something else will.”

Used As A Training Platform

I have been part of a management team that has used this book as training to change workplace culture. As a result, learning how to be accountable both individually and as an organization drastically improved results. The main concept is being a victim is not a way of success. Accountability is key and not holding yourself accountable is part of the problem. It is not a way to be successful at work or in your personal life.

This book shows that for workplace culture to be more accountable, all employees, including management are responsible for owning their part. We all are responsible for creating our own destiny and this book changes individuals from being a victim to owning accountability.

Master the Matrix: Essentials for Getting Things Done in Complex Organizations by Susan Z. Finerty, Harry M. Jansen Kraemer, Jr.

  • Read: Average (small print)
  • Pages: 155
  • Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
  • Click the picture below for additional info!

This book defines what a matrix organization is and tips on how to get things done when difficult to do so. Most importantly, this is a great read for anyone in the workplace that has gone through a reorganization, merger, acquisition, etc. and has a new reporting structure. Culture can suffer!

You may have multiple managers in a matrix organization, one direct and one ‘dotted’. The direct manager is who you report to and take direction from. Their responsibilities include managing you, your performance, and deal with employee relations.

The other manager is considered ‘dotted line management.’ You also take direction from them as well! However, they are not solely responsible for your performance but provide feedback about it. As a result, it can be super confusing! 

Matrix Reporting Structure Example

In the HR world, you may report directly to an HR Director but also have a dotted line to the head of the business territory. This can be very difficult to navigate and spur many questions. Work becomes frustrating and complex.

Who do I listen to?
How do I get my work done if I am relying on other people/departments?

The author(s) break all 7 essentials down with their own chapter. Each chapter begins with a quote and a small preface section that reminds me of a textbook. This gives the reader an idea on what it is you will be reading about and what you will learn.

Each chapter ends with two important areas (especially for those page skimmers like me). The ‘IN SUMMARY’ section with what to embrace and what to try. The second area is the ‘IN PRACTICE’ section. This outlines expectations on three key areas mentioned in each chapter throughout the book. This book is great for skimmers like me!

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In Summary

I would recommend these 3 books to anyone because they are short, sweet, and packed with tons of content that can help transform workplace culture. In addition, these books can help in personal development as well! (For any and all who take it seriously!)

Do you have any great books that can be valuable for personal or professional use? Comment below!

All the best… *judean*

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  1. You make many great correlations here. I also believe these also correlate to life and relationships in general! Great post!

  2. if only more employers took the time to learn how to lead! I have worked in a wide ranges of industries, and rarely have I had management teams that understood any of these principles.

  3. Great book recommendations! I like the Oz principle, if we think we are a victim will be and not progress. Taking responsibility we can grow a whole lot more!

  4. I wish I could share this post with a send all to the management team of my office. I look forward to checking out at least one of these titles. Thank you.

  5. Oh the matrix reporting structure is making me dizzy, haha. I work in a small company so I can see how this may work for others.

  6. Love books for learning that are short and sweet. But the Oz Principle really hit home for me with characters I could relate to that is entertaining. Might have to read the other two.

  7. I just finished reading “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire last month, so now I’m interested in the Oz Principle just to see if it offers a third point of view to this mystifying world!

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