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HR from the Heart: Inspiring Stories and Strategies for Building the People Side of Great Business

by Libby Sartain, Martha I. Finney
American Management Association, 256 pages, $16.47
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Growing a career in Human Resources takes time, effort, and according to HR from the Heart, a lot of heart. The authors stress that spending time on the people side of businesses ultimately pays dividends, and they give great examples of how to take this approach. It’s no secret that companies with good customer service track records tend to stay on top both financially and in the public eye. Everyone from managers to receptionists who deal directly with people on a daily basis will benefit from the strategies and real life stories covered in this book.

Author Libby Sartain worked with Southwest Airlines for 13 years and she notes that the airline’s answer for their success was “We just hire good people and we offer them steady growth.” She gives valuable hiring advice like "hire the person, not the resume" and advises those hiring to discriminate (based on someone’s attitude or their ability to fit into a team).

Navigating the workplace presents challenges for Human Resources professionals and HR from the Heart has tips for managers. These include:

  • Under Promise and Over Deliver
  • Don’t Get Personal
  • Don’t Take Things Personally
  • Don’t Take Sides and Don’t Seek Vengeance

According to Sartain, “Your ability to be yourself in your workplace environment is your most important resource for your personal excellence.” The book effectively extols the virtues of doing the little things that make the biggest difference in employee engagement and livelihood. There are sections on doing simple things like writing handwritten notes, saying “thank you” and creating workplace heroes every day.

HR from the Heart is at its best when the author shares her experiences with Southwest to illustrate HR lessons. One story in particular about a Southwest pilot who had to make an emergency landing gives insight into how much people can make a difference in the workplace. After a fleet of professionals from controllers to trainers helped him land safely, the pilot paid a visit to the HR Department. He told the employees “I am really not a hero today. It was the People Department, which sets high standards for hiring. The flight training department and everyone who supported me. There is not a pilot at Southwest who couldn’t have done exactly what I did.”

This high standard hiring approach ended up saving lives and teaching Sartain that virtually everyone within an organization makes a difference. It’s essential that every professional be treated with respect and given a chance to grow in their careers. Reading this book will make a difference for people in Human Resources as well as managers.

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