Book Reviews

Book by O’ BrienCarelli, Anne
Review by Heather Zeng, Ph.D.
Core Faculty
Capella University


Beginning with the emergence of the organization within society, policies and procedures have guided not only what we can contribute to an organization but how we perceive the value of what we add to it. We come to the work place with a range of values, characteristics, norms, cultures, and perceptions about our roles. This vignette of organizational progression is but the tip of the iceberg in the complexity of organizations and the individuals who work for them. 

Within the field of career development the concept of “non-linearity” can refer to individuals who begin in one job and end up supervising others even though they lack management knowledge or experience. This book is a recommended resource for such individuals as well as for those who make up a much broader audience. O’Brien Carelli’s The Truth About Supervision, in its 2nd edition, is an important contribution that will help individuals who find themselves in leadership roles not only effectively manage individuals but a range of other functions in the workplace.  

This book is organized in a user friendly format with headings that are questions surrounding the topics of coaching, teamwork, interviewing, appraisals, 360° assessments, delegation and recognition. As noted earlier, this text is targeted for a range of readers from novice to expert supervisors. Human resource professionals who mediate a range of HR functions (e.g., services and union deliberations) will find merit in this reading. Consultants in the field of career and organizational development will find specific guidance provided. Students learning about student services and leadership will benefit as will those seeking insider knowledge of organizational processes as they transition from school to work.

The author provides questions for processing a variety of topics. For example, the author differentiates coaching from counseling through a question that identifies the characteristics of a successful coach within the topic of conflict prevention. One of the areas that has far reaching implications for all readers is interviewing. From the six rules of interviewing to adapting the interview to phone and video conferencing, this book offers a savvy examination of how to successfully handle an interview. Organizations training staff to conduct interviews would benefit from providing committee members with this writing as part of staff development.

The field of human resources appraisal is an anxiety laden process even for high achieving performers. For supervisors it can be challenging as illustrated by comedy shows that depict the silence or discomfort of a performance appraisal. O’Brien Carelli confronts the various nuances of this topic well as she addresses a range of appraisals including the 360° assessment. Here she provides guidance on when to implement a 360° assessment including when to use electronic vs. paper submissions and how to provide sufficient detail for leaders to consider implications and decision points. The text covers sensitive considerations that bridge aspects of legal/ethical implications.

The text comes with a CD-ROM that provides more than 30 self-assessment tools. These tools include a range of visually engaging checklists that will help individuals work through each of the main topics within the table of contents. This book provides a wonderful starting point for a range of purposes. For example, HR department members who train supervisors on how to conduct appropriate performance appraisals can use this book to guide topic and competencies discussions. Another example is in the teamwork area: a student services leader could use portions of the text to help club/organization members identify good teamwork and how to build it. Another scenario covers how to delegate duties. 

As noted previously, this book can be used by individuals in a range of organizational contexts. It can help up-and-coming supervisors gain insights and competencies. Students studying human resource development, student leadership, and career counseling have much to gain from this book. Again, it’s practical guidance and clear writing style makes it user friendly. Leadership, management, and supervision can be more of an art than a science; the foundational knowledge and structured guidance offered by O’Brien Carelli is a starting point towards transforming human productivity, potential, and engagement in the workplace. This text is a tool those seeking more effective workplaces should acquire or as noted those just entering the workforce needing concrete information to help them flourish!


The Truth about supervision: Coaching, teamwork, interviewing, appraisals, 360° assessments, delegation, and recognition (2nd Ed.) (w/CD ROM). (2010). Book by O’ BrienCarelli, Anne. Review by Heather Zeng, Ph.D. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas Publisher. ISBN # 978-0-398-07959-8
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