I'm an avid reader. Books are how I learn new skills, gain perspective, and stay sharp. And this time of year, they also make for great inspiration.
If you feel inclined to help your employees get started on the right path this year, try suggesting a book. Here are my favorites for every type of colleague.
For the manager who lacks vision
Simon Sinek's Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action is a great read for anyone struggling to see a future beyond the next deadline.
Years ago, I used Sinek's tips to help revamp my company's long-term mission. It's easy to default to making money as your "Why," but if your primary motivator is financial, inspiration will likely be hard to come by. This book helps you dig deeper.
For the manager who can't have a tough conversation
Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny, is my go-to recommendation for people who I see struggling with tough conversations.
Whether someone is having trouble giving people critical feedback, establishing boundaries, or simply getting steamrolled by other decision makers, this makes for a great read on ways to communicate more effectively in tough moments.
For the manager who doesn't hire well
Here's a problem I see all the time: A manager is given a hiring budget, but nobody's ever taught them how to hire. Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street is a perfect solution. I've read countless books on hiring strategy, and this one continues to stand out as my personal favorite.
One tip from "Who" that I use religiously: During a candidate's last interview, I ask the same five questions about each role the person has previously held. It gives me a detailed picture of their entire career, and allows me to make an unbiased judgment.
For the manager who can't read a balance sheet
If you're a manager, you should know the difference between a P&L statement, a cash flow statement and a balance sheet. Even if your role doesn't directly involve finances.
Financial Intelligence, Revised Edition: A Manager's Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean by Karen Berman, Joe Knight and John Case, in my opinion, is the best intro read for your company's financial novices. It finds the sweet spot between an accounting textbook and a simple read, and offers more than just the basics.
Last year, we made our company's monthly financial statements available to every manager who wanted access to them. We thought it was important for all of our decision-makers to be in the know as often as possible. But without a basic understanding, the numbers mean nothing.
For the manager who needs an attitude adjustment
When we first shared our company values nearly two decades ago, we were met with some unexpected skepticism about one in particular: positive energy. In business, it's always about growth, innovation, profit, repeat. But we knew it'd be important to emphasize a positive workplace environment.
The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor backs up our decision in a big way.
It's an easy-to-read breakdown of why our brains function better when we're in positive environments, and how it translates into motivated colleagues, happier customers and, ultimately, more revenue.
For the manager who needs help prioritizing
One of the more radical approaches to prioritization, in my opinion, might just be the best for those struggling most. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, distills an entire to-do list into a single question:
What is the one thing I could accomplish right now that would make everything else easier?
The book details how focusing on the one key goal from any task - and drowning out all other noise - can help move you forward.
Regardless of how successful your 2018 was, there's always room to grow. These books can help anybody expand their skillset, putting your business in a better position for 2019 and beyond.