Punchy, concise, and reality-based; provides solid ground for the concept of supervision and should act as a day-to-day...



A debut compendium offers tips for employee supervisors.

Early on in her book, organizational and human resources consultant Sever makes a key distinction: “Supervision is a part of management, but it is not the same thing….Similarly, leadership is a part of supervision, but it is not the same thing.” Management involves broader issues than just personnel, and leadership can occur throughout an organization. But supervision, writes Sever, is specifically the management of people. With this notion driving the singular concept of the book, the author keeps her laser focus on the ups, downs, and intricacies of supervision and the interrelationships of these particular managers with their teams. Twelve chapters key into a supervisor’s major areas of responsibility. For example, “How You Act” addresses trust, power, taking action, communication, bad versus good practices, kindness, and self-discipline. “How You Are Part of the Organization” reveals important lessons about the role of the supervisor, including intriguing insights into office culture, the importance of policies, and bullies in the workplace. Each chapter is broken into short, discrete segments (the common-sensical book’s subtitle aptly refers to them as “bite-sized ideas”) that are a breeze to read but are riddled with observations and advice based on experience. Sidebars highlight examples and on-the-job scenarios to bring relevancy to the text. “A Sample Coaching Conversation,” for instance, illustrates how a supervisor helps an employee problem-solve a missed deadline while “Approaching Conflict: Ten Steps” enumerates and describes actions to take to reduce the negative effects of conflict. Particularly helpful are the occasional interspersed “Coaching Corner” snippets in which the author poses thought-provoking questions to engage readers. A cleverly structured Appendix classifies sections of the volume by reading time based on word count. But, an index, which is missing, would have been useful in locating the sections by page number. Sever’s contention is “the role of supervision is hugely underappreciated in most organizations.” This handy guide is an effective antidote to that unfortunate attitude.

Punchy, concise, and reality-based; provides solid ground for the concept of supervision and should act as a day-to-day manual for both veterans and novices.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63152-145-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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