Starting a Company Book Club

We take team bonding seriously at 834. We are a small business that has less than 10 employees, so we are less like coworkers and more like family. So when we plan professional development, we make sure everyone is involved – that’s why we are reviving the 834 book club in July.

While most of Team 834 does their own reading after hours, not all of us are reading the same thing or talking about the same ways to develop professionally. Our book club will bring the team together to talk about how we can grow as a team. Our first pick is “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. Like us, it’s witty and irreverent – the perfect kick-off choice.

Here’s what we kept in mind with starting our first company book club:

Pick Someone to Lead

A leader will help streamline the organization process. It will give people one point of contact to connect with on meeting dates, book choices and feedback. Make sure your leader is someone who is excited about books. If you pick someone who has never even had a library card, you’re in trouble before you begin.

Make the Content Fit Company Culture

Don’t force a book club because it sounds like a cool, team-bonding experience. Take the time to research professional-development books and choose one that most fits your company culture. We chose “You Are a Badass” because Jen Sincero seems like the kind of woman who can hang with us. She’s been in rock bands, was a sex-advice columnist and has killer style. She’s the kind of person we’d take advice from.

Give Everyone Enough Time

Not everyone reads at the same pace. If someone is a slow reader, it can be embarrassing for them to admit they’ve fallen behind. We decided to choose a different book every quarter, that way everyone has three months to read it. Pace isn’t the only outside factor when it comes to thinking about book-club length. Each team member has their own extracurricular activities and outside responsibilities. Keep those in mind, too. It might be harder for someone to fit in reading time if they have after-work commitments.

Get the Team’s Input

Give everyone a chance to pick a book or voice their opinion on which books they would like to read. Incorporate feedback into each book-club choice. If someone feels left out of the group decisions and conversations, they are less likely to participate. Don’t leave people out. It’s not nice.

Relate the Content to What You Are Doing

Remember that there’s still a point to having a book club. The point is to engage your employees and encourage them to grow and develop their skills. For 834, we want books that will help us become better communicators, better innovators and better leaders. Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag’s “How to Be Famous” might pair well with enough wine, but has nothing in common with our individual and company goals.

Provide Wine and Snacks

There is no point in even having a book club if you do not bring wine and snacks to your discussions. Some may say we’re doing a book club as an excuse to drink more wine, and who are we to disagree?

While we probably won’t have the kind of success Oprah had with her book club, we’re still looking forward to incorporating a new tradition into 834. We have a feeling it will be a success. Not on the Oprah level. Maybe on the Grand Rapids level. We’ll let you know, after we finish this chapter real quick.

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