Recommended Reading

Reading these books and articles, and putting what you learn from them into practice will make you a better manager, supervisor, employee, and person. Who wouldn’t want to be better?

Three notes:

  1. For monthly updates on this list and other articles, subscribe here.
  2. These books are not necessarily in order of importance except the first three – Atomic Habits, Crucial Conversations, and Crucial Accountability.  More on why under each title.
  3. There are (mostly) no links to these books on any given platform such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I make no money on any of this except for my own works.  Copy and paste the title and you’ll find them. Don’t forget to try your local library. That might save you a lot of money.

“Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones”James Clear
In any stage of growth, whether you are new at a trade or new to management or supervision, the next level requires the next level of discipline. But what does that look like in reality? Discipline is the constant, consistent employment of routines and habits that move us closer to our goals.  Creating new habits doesn’t take 21 days as we have so often been told.  Creating new habits is less about how long it takes than it is about how frequently you perform the routine.  It is no different than when you were learning a skill in the field, such as an operator, electrician, mechanic or any other trade – the more often you worked at it the easier it got. This is a ‘must-read.’

“Crucial Conversations – Tools for Talking When The Stakes are High” Joseph Grenny
The title says it all. I taught some of this to my son when he was having trouble at school in the 3rd grade and it worked with him – and it definitely works well with intelligent managers and supervisors.

“Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior” – Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, et al. 
In 100% of the interviews I have with owners, managers, supervisors, and employees the word “accountability” comes up.  Interestingly, I never have to bring it up. The other person always brings it up. It’s usually, “No one is held accountable around here. Not me, not my co-workers, not my boss.” If you want to be a top manager or supervisor, then read and practice the lessons in this book.  The best leaders and managers are accountable and hold others accountable.

“They’re Managers – Now What? How to Develop Blue Collar Managers and Supervisors” 
Yes, this is one of my books. Available on Amazon here, or contact me about a discount for buying multiple books.

“Cracking the Manager Code – 11 Traits of Effective Managers and Supervisors”Bart Gragg – anticipated publication date spring 2020.

“Cracking the Manager Code – The Workbook”Bart Gragg –
Published for workshops by the same name as the book.  Also referred to as the “I’m a Manager – Now What?” workbook. Contact me here if you would like to talk about having or attending a workshop.

“The One Page Business Plan for Busy Executives” – Jim Horan
If you want to get rid of the dreaded and ineffective annual review, contact me and I’ll show you how to use this method to increase productivity, accountability, and morale – all by managing by fact!

“Good to Great” – Jim Collins
How good companies became great companies and why their competition failed. Good lessons in leadership styles, sustainability, knowing what the company can be good at and focusing on the core elements.

“Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics” – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
These two books use entertaining stories to teach us the value of looking at ‘facts’ as indicators – not the whole story. With that in mind, managers can read these and begin to learn to look at things that are quoted as facts in a different light – it’s more than questioning the validity of the fact – it’s asking “Why would someone choose to use this fact? What’s the economic reason for saying this?”

“How to Measure Anything – Finding The Value of Intangibles in Business” – Douglas Hubbard
I recommend this book as a way to get people to recognize that we are all inherently poor predictors and that makes us poor estimators.
While the author is an IT consultant and his stories are wrapped in IT settings his ideas are valid across the entire spectrum of business measurement.
*** Note to the reader and to their boss – it might be easier to get through this if you read it simultaneously and discussed it chapter by chapter. Also, there are some areas and chapters that are worth noting as having tools for (possible) future use – but not for any in-depth study while reading the book for most new managers.

“Your Brain at Work” – David Rock
Insights into how our brains handle information, the myth of multitasking, how the time of day and our diet can affect decision making. Uses short stories to illustrate the decision making processes and the possible alternatives with a little tweaking…no pun intended.

“Visual and Statistical Thinking” – Edward Tufte – Brief and intriguing booklet. Using the analysis of a cholera epidemic in London in 1854 and the evidence used to decide to launch the space shuttle Challenger, Tufte teaches us the basics of and the critical reasons for data analysis and proper reporting. Teaching data analysis and evidence in decision-making.

As time permits I will come back and add thoughts as to why these are on the list:

“Brain Rules” – John Medina

“The Checklist Manifesto” – Atul Gawande

“The Paradox of Choice” Barry Schwartz

“The Fifth Discipline” – Peter Senge