Looking for an easy way to share information and develop employees at work? Form a book club in which a group of employees voluntarily read the same book. Combine the book reading with a regularly scheduled discussion meeting to double the impact of the book. Ask one employee to lead the discussion about the week's assigned chapter or two. Ask a second employee to lead the discussion about the relevance of the book's teachings to your organization. You'll magnify learning with a book club.
Time Required: Approximately 15 hours to read and participate per book selected.
- Determine if employees are interested in a book club. Send out an email to gauge employee interest in reading a book on their own time and then meeting at lunch once a week to discuss the book. (At TechSmith Corporation, this brief email brought in interest from twenty-six voluntary readers.)
- Sometimes organization leaders and other employees may have a book in mind to suggest. (Perhaps an employee recently read a book they'd recommend.) Other times, a small team is recruited to pick a book, or to provide several choices. This step can also depend on who the volunteer readers are. If the majority represent the marketing function, you may want to decide upon a recent marketing book. If readers are from across the company, you will want a broader or more society oriented book.
- Allow the voluntary participants to vote to select the book to read.
- I recommend that the company purchase the copies of the book. It's a small price to pay for knowledge generation.
- Hold a quick organizational meeting to determine the number of chapters the group wants to read each week and to pass out the books. Select a volunteer to lead the book discussion at this meeting. Select a volunteer to lead the relevance discussion, too. Select a regular meeting time.
- Read, meet, discuss.
- When the group completes the book, select the next book. Send an email to the company announcing the next book and soliciting members for the next round of the book club.
- I like cross functional book club members for company team building and the cross functional viewpoint. However, you can also reap benefits when department members, as an example, read together on a book of interest to the department.
- Do invite new members to the book club each time a new book is started. You don't want the group turning into an exclusive team.
- Select books that have broad appeal. Several books that have been popular in recent years in work book clubs include:
- Sharing books is a mistake. You'll want to purchase one book per person so your employees feel unpressured as members of the book club.(They have enough pressure in other aspects of their work. Right?)
What You Need
- One Book Per Person
- Conference Room
- Flip Chart or White Board and Markers