I introduced a book club to our office when I was CEO of Aptify, compiling a bookshelf of books aimed specifically at professional development within the world of business and found that the information stored within each set of pages had the potential to transform our capacity, our communication and our culture.
Placed in a central location, the books are available for anybody in the office to read. Further, if someone is interested in learning about a particular topic or reading a certain author, we have space within the professional development budget to source something useful and appropriate for them. There are obvious benefits to encouraging a well-read, informed team, but the book club did more than that.
A SHARED BODY OF KNOWLEDGE
Books as learning resources are fairly individual in their value. Once a person has gleaned all they can from the pages and absorbed the words for themselves, many books end up relegated to dust-gathering in someone’s home. Through our shared shelves, one individual book can add value again and again; different people can benefit from its insights and different ideas can be sparked by its suggestions. This establishes a foundational shared body of knowledge from which more constructive, higher-level conversations can begin to emerge. As a supplemental professional development strategy, it is incredibly effective and relatively inexpensive.
Having knowledge in common can be a great way to integrate people and to create a more efficient and productive team dynamic. Once two members of the office have digested the same information, they not only have a piece of shared knowledge, but they have something to talk about and connect over in a meaningful way. While you can’t, and shouldn’t, expect everybody to come to think in the same way, the bookshelf encourages people to come together over these ideas and form an engaged workplace community.
PROMOTING A CULTURE OF LEARNING
A subtler, but just as powerful, effect of the book club is in the message it transmits to your office. By having such resources readily available, you are communicating that your company values learning and is invested in both individual and group knowledge advancement. A culture of learning is one that breeds interested, and interesting, employees, and conveys to them that their own intellectual expansion can be a priority.
The book club represented an investment in people, which as a culture was a huge part of our success at Aptify. In our company, communication channels were opened, value was distributed and a new culture was crafted. When you invest in people, they grow in new and sometimes unimagined ways; when they do better, so does the company. Keeping this purposeful culture alive and strong generates great financial results, as well as a flourishing team – an important consideration for profit and non-profit organizations alike.