The blurb promises the book will be a clear and accessible guide for people in a range of occupations that deal with people and their problems. In the preface, the author claims he is pleased that the book has been popular not only with social workers and nurses and so on, but ‘even with managers, supervisor and others in commerce and industry’.
I am surprised he has reached such a conclusion. People Skills is solely aimed at those in health and social care settings, and is intended to assist them in their dealings with clients. By comparison to the many upbeat, motivational style of HR and management books it also has a negative, downbeat feel to it.
Furthermore, it takes a confrontational, old-fashioned approach to management. The author talks about ‘the line manager being well placed to mediate between individual and senior management’ and ignores concepts such as consultation, openness and feedback.
And in terms of HR, chapter titles are also misleading. The chapter on interviewing, for example, is only concerned with the ‘worker/client relationships’ and has nothing to do with recruitment or appraisal interviewing.
But it is not all bad. The subjects of stress, interaction and handling feelings and conflict are well written and definitely worth a read.
So while the book is a good text for health and social care practitioners, at £15.99, you’d be better off borrowing a copy from a friendly social worker or nurse and then reading only certain chapters.
People Skills – 2nd edition
Delia Goldring is director of two HR consultancies and a visiting professor at Middlesex University Business School. She is currently reading Balanced Scorecard by Robert Kaplan and Leading in a Culture of Change by Michael Fullan.