It might surprise you, but at UMC, Inc., we love to read. Even though most of our team is out on the job site working with our hands, we believe that reading quality books is an essential part of our growth and development. One of the ways we encourage a love for reading and personal development is with our company book club.
One of our core values is education, and we strive to help our team grow and learn both on and off the job site. Starting our company book club has been a great way to do that in a more informal setting. We offer our employees access to our company’s audible account (so they can listen to the book if they choose), and then we recommend a book for everyone to read. Then, we meet informally to discuss the book and learn from it together.
Neil Blumenthal, the founder of Warby Parker, holds a company-wide book club for his team and raves about the benefits. He says, “From a team dynamic standpoint, it helps to build stronger working relationships. It helps to build trust when you create what it is a safe environment to share ideas or to debate ideas.” We love this idea because it’s the goal of what we are trying to do with our book club. We want our team to feel comfortable learning together and developing an appreciation for different perspectives. If you’re thinking of a starting a company book club, here are a few benefits outlined in the Harvard Business Review, including:
- How they make it easier to stick to reading habits
- How they help us understand and learn from different perspectives
- How they help build and reinforce relationships
- How they help us learn to be more comfortable having discussions
Another benefit of our company book club is choosing books that help us learn and work together better. One of our most recent book club picks was The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick M. Lencioni. This book explores the reasons why teams sometimes fail. The premise is that there are five dysfunction models: an absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of responsibility, and inattention to results. The models build off one another in a pyramid shape, with the absence of trust usually being the root cause of most team dysfunctions. When a team fails to trust one another, they don’t communicate effectively. They are afraid to admit when they make mistakes, avoid responsibility, and are unwilling to receive feedback. The book explores overcoming these dysfunctional models by fostering trust and identifying strengths and weaknesses. It’s a very insightful read into team dynamics!
Book clubs aren’t for everyone, but we find that it’s an engaging way to learn together and develop better professional and personal bonds. One of our most recent hires, Ben Smith, told us that joining the book club at UMC, Inc. is one of his favorite things about the company! Feedback like that helps us realize that we are on the right track and motivates us to keep reading together. If you want to see benefits like this in your company, follow our lead and start your own company-wide book club!