One often overlooked element of a strong culture is that people learn and grow together. This is especially important at a small business, where the team is often involved in many areas of the business. A book club is a simple way to create a directed learning program that aligns with your company’s goals and drives you forward.
What is a business book club?
We’ve all been invited to a social book club at least once in our lives – where a group of people who might have read the book get together, drink wine and chat, possibly about the book involved.
That’s not the kind of book club we’re talking about.
To be truly valuable, your business’ book club needs to be a facilitated discussion about key learnings and how you’re going to turn them into action.
The benefits of having a book club in your business
Having a business book club has many benefits, including:
- Increasing employee engagement
- Directing the professional development of your team
- Creating connection between team members
- Developing fresh thinking and creativity
- Aligning learning and your company’s goals
How do I start a book club in my business?
Starting your business book club with a small group is the best way to go.
You can grow it over time, connecting with new members and growing the size of your book club as you see fit.
Here are some factors to consider when starting your business-wide book club:
Have an accountable leader
Like any project, you need someone accountable for the success of the book club. This person will ensure the book club happens, encourage communications, gather feedback and measure the overall success of the program.
Pick the right schedule
Traditionally, book clubs are run on a monthly basis. The challenge with this is that there’s often too much material to discuss and truly benefit from.
Instead, consider selecting a book every quarter, but meet more often, such as every two weeks. Each meeting, pick a small number of chapters to read and discuss so you can go into more depth.
Pick the right book
We recommend selecting a book that aligns with your company’s goals for the quarter, or better yet, learning in advance for next quarter! That way the learning is applicable and timely for your team.
Make sure you align why the book is important in your communications – it will increase engagement.
Assign a facilitator
The most effective book clubs are focused and directed. A skilled facilitator can keep the conversation moving and engaging for all participants.
Break the group up into smaller groups and have them report back the key elements of the conversation.
Book your time and location well in advance
Reserve time in advance (even if it’s just one hour) so that people know they should show up on their own accord.
Tips for hosting an effective book club meeting
We’ve been running facilitated book club sessions with the Incrementa Learning Community for several months. From our experience, here are some tips for hosting a great book club meeting:
Come up with questions in advance
The best conversations come when people have had time to think through the questions and chapters they’ve been assigned.
While we start out with our own version of “what did you like and why”, we recommend going deeper and creating questions that are specific to the content.
Facilitate the conversation, but not too much
We’ve found facilitation is vital to keep the group on track and the discussion lively, but we don’t like to clamp down too much and stop creativity.
Split large groups up
Getting a big group engaged with your book club is awesome. We’ve seen businesses that have 60-80% of their entire company reading the same books. Awesome!
But that can create a logistical challenge – how do you facilitate conversation with that big of a group and engage everyone?
Break the group up.
If you’re using online tools, breakout rooms are perfect for this. The Incrementa Learning Community events will often have 20+ attendees. We break out rooms of 4-6 and assign a facilitator to each one. The facilitator then reports back to the main group at the end of their breakout time.
Pro-Tip: When you break out groups, mix things up. Don’t put teams together – that way you can increase the connection across teams and have more diverse thinking.
Focus on application
Reading books together is awesome, but if you don’t apply what you learn, then the value is greatly reduced.
One of the last questions in each session should be “How should we apply this at our business?”
Ideas can then be raised to the leadership team for discussion and execution.
Our Favourite Book Examples
I’m a huge reader and have shelves of great books.
We publish a list of our favorite books each year. Download the 2020 book list here.
Some of our favourites in 2021 include:
Company book clubs are a great way to get employees connecting and learning together. They shouldn’t be just another social event on your calendar. By using facilitators, you can ensure that everyone is engaged with what’s being discussed. Plus, if it’s in alignment with company goals, then attendees can apply lessons learned.
Are you looking to join a business book club and learning community? Join the Incrementa Learning Community for free today.