Many business moguls, including Warren Buffett, swear by reading. But while reading is a great way to grow, it’s awfully time-consuming.
If members of your team are struggling to find time to crack a book, productivity hacks can help you make space in your schedule. Tactics like time-blocking can prevent other priorities from stealing time you’d meant to spend reading.
Encouraging employees to carve out reading time makes sense on multiple levels. Not only is it a great approach to personal development, but it also builds community. Book clubs help team members connect from afar, and everyone appreciates a good book recommendation.
Reading is a key employee development strategy, especially at a time when people are stuck at home. Take a look at these tips to get your team members into the habit:
1. Set the example.
Like other aspects of company culture, teamwide reading starts at the top. If you never read anything, then how can you expect your employees to do so?
Start by setting a goal for how much you want to read in a month. Also, make note of what you want to read. Once you get into a rhythm, you can challenge yourself with more frequent reading or more challenging literature.
Not sure what to start with? Consider some of this year’s top-rated leadership books, such as Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead.”
Don’t worry too much about showing off your reading. In team conversations, you’ll naturally bring up ideas that you find interesting. Soon, others on the team will start to do the same.
2. Start an office book club.
Reading might not seem like a social activity, but it’s a great way to build relationships. The readers on your team can provide new perspectives, which are fun to discuss and can enhance your leadership skills.
A book club is a great way to do this. Select a different book each month and designate a time to discuss it. Let a different person choose the next book when you’re finished. Make a game of it: Perhaps the first person to finish the current book gets to select the team’s next read.
The books chosen do not need to be directly related to work. The benefits of reading can come from fiction as well. You might be surprised by what insights you can glean from even the most “left field” readings.
What if people can’t agree on what to read? Don’t force everyone on the team to read the same thing. A happy hour where people discuss their favorite books is less formal but still beneficial.
3. Create an office library.
Sometimes, the barrier to reading is merely accessibility. If there are reading materials around, people are more likely to utilize them.
Think about waiting rooms: Customers naturally pick up magazines left out to pass the time. An office library takes this to the next step by giving meaningful and varied choices to your team.
Of course, you’ll need books to fill the library. Get your employees’ help choosing what to include. Aim for a good mix of nonfiction and fiction books.
Bookcases are a must, but you can’t just put books on a shelf and call it a day. Change up your display periodically. Implement a checkout system so you can track what’s been removed and returned.
Finally, make sure your library has a reading space. Put a comfortable chair by a window. Leave out a selection of coffee and tea nearby.
4. Set up a Goodreads account.
Goodreads is a site that tracks the books you’ve read. Readers are able to friend each other and see what people are reading.
Until COVID-19 is over, this is one way to make an office book club work remotely. Set up a company account and ask employees to connect their personal accounts to it. Give a small incentive, such as a gift card, to the employee who manages to read the most books in a quarter or year.
5. Stick with it.
A reading culture won’t take off by itself. The good news is, you don’t have to be the one to keep it going. Appoint a team member who’s a particularly voracious reader.
Consider giving a raise or desirable title to the person leading your reading group. Even extra days off can make tempt people to take the position.
What if the book group’s leader is struggling to make enough time for it? Encourage them to delegate some of their other responsibilities. Creating culture can be a full-time position by itself, so don’t treat it as a small side project.
When you put the right pieces together, you can have a robust reading culture. And when team members are constantly consuming new ideas, they become more valuable to the company. Treat reading like a critical part of their professional development because, after all, it is.