Steve's Pep Talks


Successful team building with book club

March 20th, 2024

Read the article in Smart Business

Having a book club at work seemed like a fun idea, but I admit to being skeptical of its value in team building. When most people hear about book club, their first thought is, “I wonder if they will be serving red or white wine?” The whole concept is fraught with a preconceived notion of frivolity. I could not have been more wrong.

I read a ton, always have. But, I read exclusively nonfiction. Our assignments have all been fiction — my first realization that fiction can be enjoyable. The club gives us a chance to make friends or find kindred spirits when there might not have seemed to be much in common. Turns out, it is a great tool to break barriers and build the team.

Book club is just a mechanism for getting together in a relaxing way with our colleagues. We have professionally facilitated meetings to discuss curated reading assignments.

Our facilitators are from Reflection Point, a local company with a specialty in arranging book clubs for organizations. They do this all over the world for some of the most successful companies in existence.

The beauty of the process is its simplicity. It is a great tool to break down barriers and build the team.

Options exist for reading in print media, downloading to a device or even audible solutions in case someone prefers being read to.

A surprise was who self-selected to be in the club. I was just as surprised by those who chose not to participate. Again, I was getting tripped up by my preconceived notions.

I was then enlightened by how perceptive and imaginative some of my colleagues are. Our discussions have been very deep. Every leader should pay attention to hidden sources of wisdom.

Untapped creativity is at every intersection. Improving relationships and mutual respect help build trust. Some people do not read for pleasure at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the members of our group are avid readers. It is likely not a coincidence that they were able to express themselves so succinctly.

Do not be myopic. Ten people can read the same story and come away with numerous views. Nonfiction is read for information. Fiction is read for nuances, relationships and what is beneath the surface. It forces the reader to deal with the ambiguous. Our outside facilitators are experts at inquiry.

They are a valuable component of the process. The magic is in the mix. Increasing the depths of our relationships helps build trust, mutual respect and psychological safety.

It was somewhat bold and brave that the participants chose to do this. This moved the needle on their willingness to take a risk. I think most feel it paid off. No one wants to be treated with soul-crushing disregard.

This is another confirmation of their value and contribution to our organization. It also is an ongoing example of two of our company’s core values, collaboration and respect.

I have a manufacturing company. It’s easy to think our assets are the multi-million dollar machines that produce our products.

But in reality, our most important assets walk out the door every day after their shift.

As a lifelong entrepreneur, Steve has started and operated numerous companies in the specialty building trades and building products industries.

Posted in: Steve's Pep Talks

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