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Your Guide to Creating a Company Book Club

Hosting a company book club can boost morale, unify employees and bring your company closer to its goals. Reading about new ideas is inspiring and encourages creativity and innovation. Sharing thoughts on someone else’s ideas can help bring everyone together as a team. 

We’re going to break down everything you need to know about starting a book club at your company.

Choose the right book

The right book can help bring your team together, strengthen company culture and align your business strategy. As a leader, you should carefully pick a read that furthers your company initiatives and helps inspire everyone to move in the same direction.

Looking to increase employee engagement and foster camaraderie? Read a book on effective teamwork or communication. Looking to improve sales? Read a book on a new sales method and discuss how to use it. Maybe you want to focus more on employee health and well-being, as many companies currently are. Read a book on avoiding burnout and talk about how to use those strategies to best support your team.

When you’re choosing a book, think about:

  • What key message or idea do I want my team to understand?
  • What can our team improve?
  • How can I inspire my team?

Long story short, there’s a book out there for any of your business goals. Choosing just one can be overwhelming, but we can help. Our Innovation Women Amazon store is a great place to start. Books on everything from sales techniques to effective writing are sorted into categories that make decisions easy. And since all of the books in the store are by Innovation Women members, the authors are available to speak at your company.

Assign leaders

Choose someone at your company to be the point person. This could be you, somebody else or a larger committee. They’re responsible for putting a date on the calendar, reserving a space (or creating a Zoom link) and ordering books for everyone. It’s helpful if they send out an invite in advance giving people a chance to RSVP so that they know how many copies to order.

Different people can lead each session. For instance, if someone recommends a book, they can be in charge of facilitating the conversation. You can also rotate roles. Having someone responsible to keep the discussion going helps you avoid those awkward silences. Have this person prepare talking points or stimulating questions. If you have an author come in and speak or participate, this person could be in charge of interviewing them.

Order your books

Provide the books for your employees and make it as easy as possible for people to participate. Think of it as an investment in your team’s professional development and therefore your company’s success. Everyone appreciates feeling supported by their company.

Once you receive your RSVPs, the organizer can order the number of books needed and put them at work for people to pick up. They could also ship copies directly to virtual employees or reimburse them for buying a copy themselves.

Make book club inclusive

In today’s hybrid workplace, it’s extra important to accommodate everyone. If you have employees who work remotely, plan ahead to have them participate virtually through Zoom, Teams, Google Meet or other virtual meeting software. Make sure you create a link and calendar invitation.

Additionally, make sure you promote your book club! Send out details in a memo or a newsletter so that all employees, remote or in-person, have the chance to join. Also, include it during your company’s onboarding process so new members can be a part of the club.

Start with our sample agenda

To get the most out of your time together, here’s a sample agenda.

Helpful hint: As you wait for people to join, ask people who are already there some ice breaker questions or have a quick activity. This “warm-up” will help engage people so that when the real discussion starts, they will be more likely to participate. Have an online meeting? Ask people to share where they are calling in from. Doing your book club over lunch? Ask everyone to share their favorite sandwich.

15 min – Initial Thoughts and Reactions

During the first part of the meeting, ask people to share their initial thoughts and reactions to the book. Ask if they found it applicable to their own lives and/or job…

Example kick-off questions:

  • Share a specific tip from the book that you want to implement.
  • What was one of the biggest surprises in the book for you?

30 min – Main Discussion

This is where the discussion leader for the session could share specific thoughts or ask questions. Dive deeper into how the book connects to your company’s goals and how you can use the book to grow. Are there specific strategies you can incorporate into your company? If so, how? What will that look like for you and your team?

If you have an author come to speak during your meeting, this is obviously going to look a little different. In that case, it can be more of an interview with them. Have some questions prepared and encourage team members to engage. Your author may have a prepared presentation or activities they can bring in.

15 min – Key Takeaways

Use the last part of your meeting to focus on the most important takeaways from the book. It might be helpful for the organizer or leader to record these for people who missed the meeting. (This is also a great way to create FOMO and attract new members!)

By keeping these suggestions in mind, you can run an effective company book club that brings your people together and moves you toward your goals. Book clubs are a low-cost, high-impact way to promote both personal and professional growth.

About the author

Annie Clifford

Annie Clifford is an intern at Lioness Magazine. She's currently a junior at Wellesley College outside Boston and is originally from Denver, Colorado. She's studying economics and pursuing a career in marketing/communications. Annie is also passionate about writing, art, the outdoors and female entrepreneurship.

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