Essential HR Handbook
About The Essential HR Handbook — A quick and handy resource for any manager or HR professional, this book by HR experts Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell is a useful 250-page reference guide. Published in the fall of 2008 by Career Press, it is a must-have for everyone who deals with employees on a daily basis, say the authors who wrote the book because — as human resource professionals with decades of experience — they wanted to shed light on the issues that keep managers up at night.
How Inkandescent PR Helped — Sharon and Barbara approached Hope Gibbs to get the word out about their new book. The Inkandescent team created an elegant website (design by Michael Gibbs, concept and writing by Hope Gibbs and programming by Max Kukoy) that not only featured the new book, but also highlighted Sharon’s 2003 book, “Stress Free Performance Appraisals,” and through a variety of articles and a speaking engagement / workshop calendar showed readers the expanse of experience and expertise these two veteran HR professionals have.
Success Story — Due to the posting of several press releases and an active reporter outreach campaign, the Essential HR Handbook sold hundreds of copies within months of its release, and Sharon and Barbara have been sought after speakers for companies looking to build their teams and improve their relationships with employees.
June 3, 2010, Federal News Radio — At 3 p.m. today, Federal News Radio reporter Christopher J. Dorobek interviewed Sharon Armstrong, author of new The Essential Performance Review Handbook, about how to make performance reviews a less painful process.
“If you hate your annual performance review, don’t worry. You’re not alone,” he said. “Some employees dread that yearly meeting with their boss, where intangible topics, such as ‘future goals’ are often discussed. And we’ve heard tales that bosses don’t like them much, either.”
“But the performance review doesn’t have to be a chore . . . or torturous. They can actually be productive conversations that not only benefit the office, but the organization as a whole.”
“Sharon Armstrong is author of the Essential Performance Review Handbook, and has served as director of human resources at several organizations in the D.C. metro area. She says progress is being made when it comes to performance reviews, and successful organizations are making them really work.”
Click here to download the mp3 file, and read the article.
Washington DC, May 27, 2010 — “It’s not supposed to be this way,” writes HR specialist Sharon Armstrong in the introduction to her new book, “The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional,” published in May 2010 by Career Press (www.theessentialperformancereviewhandbook.com).
Although performance reviews are actually less popular than a trip to the dentist for most supervisors (see that study below), the good news is that Sharon Armstrong — the woman who began her career in Human Resources in 1985 as a recruiter/trainer in a large Manhattan law firm and launched her own HR consulting business in the year 2000 — has found a way to take the pain out of the process.
Feb. 21, 2010, New Jersey Star-Ledger — Are cover letters important when you are applying for a job? Career experts have very strong points of view when it comes to this question. Unfortunately their opinions are all over the lot.
Sharon Armstrong, author of “The Essential HR Handbook,” suggests a two-column cover letter as a way to demonstrate that fit. The first column heading is “Your Requirements,” which lists each requirement set forth in the job posting.
The corresponding column is “My Qualifications,” which lists how the candidate satisfies each requirement. This format works, according to Armstrong, because:
1. You never know who is screening interviews and you’ve done all their work for them;
2. If the company is scanning, you’ve used all their key words
3. You already have started to prepare yourself for the interview by reviewing your background and how it applies to the needs of that position and the company.
January 2010, Yahoo! HotJobs — “Whether the economy roars back in 2010 or slowly climbs out of the hole, HR professionals are anticipating fewer layoffs, more hiring, and, in some cases, a rush to the exits,” writes Yahoo! HotJobs reporter Larry Buhl, who interviewed DC human resources expert Sharon Armstrong.
Armstrong said: Conduct “stay” interviews. Too many companies only learn about employee gripes at exit interviews. Sharon Armstrong, an HR consultant in Washington, D.C., and author of The Essential HR Handbook, recommends surveying employees now. “But employees shouldn’t feel like there will be a ‘gotcha’ when they have complaints. These ‘stay interviews’ should be conducted by a third party, not the manager, or HR could hold focus groups in a safe setting.”
January 13, 2010, Examiner.com — In Monday’s Washington Examiner, Kansas City Leadership Columnist Eric Jacobson featured The Essential HR Handbook as One of top 235 recommended leadership books from various LinkedIn members.
In today’s newspaper, he reviewed the book and its authors, noting:
It’s unfortunately too common for an employee to be promoted into a management position with little to no Human Resources (HR) training. Similarly, many small business owners don’t have a dedicated human resources person so they end up muddling their way through critical human resources issues while wearing the HR hat.
These are some of the reasons authors Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell wrote the book “The Essential HR Handbook,” described by them as “a quick and handy resource for any manager or HR professional.”
If you don’t have the time or funds to attend HR training at a nearby educational institution or if there is not within your workplace a qualified and seasoned mentor to teach you HR skills, this book provides the novice manager important basics, accompanied by real-world examples and templates that you can readily use as you lead your team of one or more employees. It’s also an excellent refresher for managers who need to hone their hiring, onboarding, and performance evaluating capabilities.
Washington Examiner, January 10, 2010 — In today’s Washington Examiner, reporter Eric Jacobson featured The Essential HR Handbook as one of the top recommended leadership books from various LinkedIn members.
“Within the list of favorites you’ll find titles published decades ago and ones published last month,” Jacobson explained. “All the books are available on Amazon and through a variety of other sources, including via author web sites. Nearly 70 of the books on the list are linked here to Amazon. All will be in this list format within the next few weeks.”
Here is the list of all 235 books, in alphabetical order. It represents many of the vast approaches to leadership in practice today throughout the world. Take a look to see how many you’ve read. Perhaps you’ll find one of your favorites. Then, select a few to further research and to add your reading list for 2010.”
What’s Your Favorite?
WASHINGTON DC, December 1, 2009 — Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell, co-authors of the popular human resources book, The Essential HR Handbook (www.theessentialhrhandbook.com), got word today that their 2008 book is so successful that it will go into its second printing later this month.
Nearly 6000 copies have been sold to date, an impressive amount for a business book, explains the publisher, Career Press. It plans to print 2000 more copies just in time for the holiday rush.
While many of the books are sold at national retail bookstore chains such as Barnes & Noble, the majority of books are sold through Amazon.com. In addition to being available in paperback, the 224-page book is one of fewer than 300,000 titles that were selected to be compatible with Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader.
“We couldn’t be more excited that the book is doing so well,” says Armstrong, who is also the author of Stress-free Performance Appraisals, which is also in its second printing. Her next book, The Essential Performance Review Handbook will be published in the spring of 2010.
I’m sending you this special newsletter this month from my colleagues, Scott Golden and Stephanie Cohen, owners of the Gaithersburg, MD health benefits firm Golden & Cohen.
They invited me to write an article about the importance of stress-free performance appraisals for this, their November newsletter. Since a revised edition of my 2003 book is currently at the printer (The Essential Performance Review Handbook will be out in the Spring), I was happy to participate.
I think you’ll enjoy the following articles that focus on the current health care reform bill before Congress and the impact it will have on all of our insurance rates. Also below is an interesting Q&A between Stephanie Cohen and therapist Susan Richman about how to manage stress during the holidays. Since staying stress-free is so important – in every area from holiday madness to performance appraisals – I think you’ll find Susan’s advice useful and informative.
I thank you in advance for welcoming this special news blast into your inbox, and look forward to sending you the December newsletter from Sharon Armstrong & Associates in a few weeks.
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Sharon Armstrong, president and founder, Sharon Armstrong & Associates
Author, Stress-free Performance Appraisals (second edition coming in 2010)
The Essential HR Handbook (www.theessentialhrhandbook.com)
Systems Contractor News, Aug. 17, 2009 — In today’s Systems Contractor News, HR expert Sharon Armstrong was featured in an article entitled, “Fair Appraisals.” Reporter Carolyn Heinze wrote: “For many, the phrase “evaluation time” conjures up images of classrooms, report cards, parent-teacher meetings and, for those that didn’t do their homework all semester, the prospect of being grounded. It may be years, decades even, since any of us have been in school, but once the announcement is made that our work will be formally appraised, it’s difficult not to slip back into the mindset of a school kid.”
When done right, said Sharon Armstrong, evaluations are ongoing. “That means that you are keeping this conversation going when people are doing the right thing, and nudging them gently when something needs to happen,” she said. “The performance evaluation is a culmination of all of those conversations.”
The key factor, she added, is to train managers that the evaluation is not an annual event; it’s an ongoing conversation, one that should take into account how the business changes throughout the year.
WASHINGTON (AP) July 2, 2009 — In an Associated Press wire article posted today in several U.S. newspapers, Sharon Armstrong — author of The Essential HR Handbook and owner of Sharon Armstrong and Associates — talked about ways older job seekers can overcome age barriers.
To avoid appearing out of touch, she explains, they can use their time between jobs to become familiar with the latest technologies and social networking sites.
AP economics writer Christopher Rugaber wrote: Sharon Armstrong, a career consultant in Washington, D.C., urged one client fearful of seeming too old to discuss her use of Twitter and Facebook during job interviews. “I don’t think anyone needs to know when you graduated from college,” she said. “Don’t give people reasons to discriminate against you.”