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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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Book review: The Answers by Lucy Kellaway


The Answers by Lucy Kellaway

Lucie Benson reviews a new book by Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway, called The Answers, which aims to provide practical advice to all those workplace dilemmas experienced by office workers everywhere.


If you are stuck for Christmas stocking fillers this year, then look no further. Perfect for anyone who has ever worked in an office, “The Answers: All the office questions you never dared to ask” by Lucy Kellaway is a hilarious read full of the typical – and not so typical – problems experienced by employers and employees alike.

Kellaway is a management consultant at the Financial Times (FT), and recently started a business ‘agony aunt’ column, which proved to be quite a success at the FT. This book brings together many of the problems sent to her every week, and includes advice from both Kellaway and readers of the FT, giving many angles and opinions to one problem.

The book is divided into categories including bosses, underlings, sex and love, workmates, ambition, children, and office life and contains conundrums such as: ‘How do I tell my employee that he smells?’; ‘Should I tell my boss what I think of him?’; ‘I did something silly at the office party’; ‘Can I fire a woman without her suing?’; and ‘Can I be a successful leader and a nice person?’

Kellaway also grades the problems against two scores: angst and difficulty. She defines angst as ‘how horrible the problem makes its owner feel’, and difficulty as ‘how hard the problem is to solve’. Also, questioners and respondents are identified only by profession, sex, and age, to protect their anonymity.

The book is funny, thought-provoking and easy to read, with a real varied selection of office problems, many of which everyone can relate to and learn from. Obviously, there are some huge HR topics in there, including employment law, talent management, recruitment and retention and diversity, so I would say this book is indispensable for anyone who has to negotiate the ups and downs that make up today’s modern office.



Reader offer!

HR Zone has three copies of Lucy Kellaway’s book, The Answers’ to give away, just in time for Christmas! For your chance to win a copy, simply email [email protected] by 5pm on Monday 10 December. Please write “Lucy Kellaway book offer” in the subject heading and include your postal address. The first three people to be drawn will each win a copy. Good luck!


‘The Answers’ by Lucy Kellaway is published by Profile Books Ltd. Paperback RRP £8.99.

Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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