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  • Writer's pictureJill Hauwiller


One of my favorite summer -- or any season -- activities is sitting down to read a good book. And since this is part 3 of my series on no and low cost development approaches, you may have guessed that we are going to talk about books. More specifically, we are going to talk about how setting up a development-focused book club is another way to help talent learn and increase their capabilities.

An organizational book club will probably look a little different than one you might host with friends: less emphasis on wine, fancy snacks and dissecting plots and character development and more emphasis on topics like leadership styles and organizational culture with tangible plans to try out the new ideas. And there’s no reason that a company book club has to just focus on books - podcasts and videos can also provide concepts for discussion and reflection. An article or journal club can also be a great way for team or leaders to stay on top of trends.

Getting started:

Work with executives and leaders to select a group of potential book club participants who have similar development goals and interests. Invite the identified participants to join. Ten or so participants is a good number because it allows the group to get to know each other and for everyone to share their perspectives during the conversation. The group can self-select a theme or readings based on their interests or HR can provide guidance based on organizational goals.

Another type of company book club is one within an existing team. In this scenario, a department or functional area could start a book club to learn about new trends and developments in their field. Limiting group size is less important here and the focus should be including the entire relevant group of employees in the discussion.

Regardless of the type of book club, the group should set meeting frequency and norms to ensure active participation. Leaders should also work with participants from their team to set expectations on participation and applying learnings. One-on-one meetings with employees are a great way to check in on insights from the reading materials and relationships with their peers.

Encourage participants to discuss and reflect on these questions during their book club meetings:

  • What insights did you gather from the material?

  • What actions or recommendations from the book or video are you going to put into practice?

  • How will you follow up with the group to let us know what worked and what you want help with?


There are numerous organizational and personal benefits to company-supported book clubs. For one, participants develop meaningful connections with other group members through their discussion of the materials. They are able to move beyond task-oriented conversations to learn more about how others think and approach their work. The relationships that develop as a result of book club can broaden participants' internal network, particularly with people they might not regularly work with. A second benefit is that participants are progressing on their development goals, meaning that they will be ready for expanded or more complex roles following their investment of time and energy in the book club. Finally, a high functioning book club will self-manage with little oversight from HR or Organizational Development. The group will build its own practices around accountability and follow up on the materials they are reviewing.


These are not resources on how to start a book club but rather my favorite books to consider starting with for your book club!



Originally published on LinkedIn


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