Benefits of an Office Book Club

by Tim Hagen on Mon,Dec 31,2012 @ 01:32 PM

describe the imageOffice Book Club

Hear it is, my big advice…read a book and take action!

Wait, don’t X out the window just yet. Here is the problem with reading books as part of employee or staff development: even if all employees find the time and motivation to read a book in its entirety, the knowledge they have just gained from it will most likely get stored away in the things-I-know-but-in-all-likelihood-won’t-use box.

Here is my example: A few months back I decided I wanted to learn how to compost. What did I do? I went down to my library (yes, I still use the library) and checked out the book Composting: An Easy Household Guide by Nicky Scott. Upon finishing the book I became the king of composting relentlessly talking about everything compost related, how it works, the benefits, the system I was going to set up, the garden I would start and fertilize with my compost, I went on and on. Now, do you think I have composted one single scrap of anything since the day I finished reading that book? NOPE - my apologies Mother Earth – but the composting king’s reign ended as quickly as it started. There it is...composting: a-thing-I-know-about-but-in-all-likelihood-won’t-use.

The major flaw in reading is that, while it is probably one of the best, most efficient ways to learn about a topic, area of interest, field of study, etc., it doesn’t guarantee action. When it comes to investing in staff and employee development you want action.

How do you do that? Office Book Club! Not like the Oprah-inspired “book clubs” that always seem to be very heavy in talking, gossiping, eating, drinking, and laughing but very light in actual reading. Office book club is merely an activity that will provide employees with the mutual support and encouragement of one another to generate beneficial action from the books they read.

Office Book Club in a Nutshell

Have employees get into groups or partners and pick a book for them to read or have them pick a book to read. Each group or pair should schedule regular meetings monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever timeline is the best fit. Each meeting should involve a discussion on the chapters or sections read. This will give employees the opportunity to explore topics covered, hash out any questions they may have, and deepen their understanding of the book.

After employees have completed reading the book have them create and commit to a plan that incorporates the new things they have learned. At this point, employees should continue to meet so they can track one another’s progress, help each other work through any issues that may arise, or make any necessary alterations to the plan. 

Ask employees to provide their feedback of the book as well as their recommendations for the contingent action plan. If they have found it to be successful/helpful, implement it staff wide.

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This post was written by Tim Hagen

Tim Hagen founded Sales Progress, a Training Reinforcement Partner Company, in 1997. His entrepreneurial career began in college leading to positions in sales, sales management, and sales training for small and large corporations, and eventually ownership of several training companies. He possesses a unique combination of hands-on experience, academics, and innovative insight to solve the industry’s most common challenges. Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in Adult Education and Training from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.