Blog written by CCM Group’s Commercial Operations Manager, Meg Zanker.
So, how do you run a successful company-wide book club?
This was the exact question that I asked myself when our Head of People, Chelsea Peek, approached me to see if I would be interested in taking the lead on CCM’s Book Club. However, it didn’t take much persuading (if any) for me to agree and start planning.
We had been wanting to get a company-wide book club going for everyone to get involved in to help with personal development, bringing colleagues together and getting people reading. With the new financial year approaching, it seemed like the perfect time to start the ball rolling with it.
Now if only all 46 staff members were readers it would have been as easy as A, B, C to get 100% engagement, but in reality, not quite everyone was as sold on the idea as I was. This was when Operation: Book Club was born and it was all systems go.
“The first rule of Book Club is that we talk about Book Club!”
Firstly, I knew that doing one book club meeting for 46 members of staff once a month wouldn’t work, so we created 5 mini book clubs, with a good representation from each department. Once I had organised and created groups within the team, it was time to ask for people’s thoughts on this new initiative, as this was something that we wanted people to feel included in and excited by. The initial meetings were invaluable to find out:
How people honestly felt about book club
If they would class themselves as avid readers
What they wanted to get out of it
Fears or concerns they had about being part of book club
What ideas they had for it
Books that would be of interest to read
It was really eye-opening to find out that some people were feeling reluctant about being part of book club for a variety of reasons, such as finding time to read, what books they would need to read, looking stupid in front of colleagues if they did not ‘get’ the book or not being a great reader.
The honest feedback from everyone was just what I needed to create something inclusive for all and I quickly realised that we would need to make a few tweaks to the initial thoughts behind having a company book club.
"The CCM Book Club is about development and bringing people together to share new ideas, therefore I knew it was important to ask for feedback, take this on board, and allow the feedback to shape the future of our book club at CCM for the better."
Based on the feedback, it was clear that people wanted some say in the books we would read. So what did we do to support this? Ask people to nominate a book they believe would work for a book club. The only criteria being that it had to be available as a hard copy, e-copy and audio version so that it was accessible to all. Next up, we had to narrow down the suggestions received to 3 options and get people to vote for which book they wanted to read - the majority vote wins! This was how we ended up with Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights as our first book.
Next on the agenda was to make sure everyone got a copy of the book, in whichever format they wanted, and plan out the next 3 months of book club activities. Luckily, I had already read Greenlights and it was a book I thoroughly enjoyed. This head start definitely made it easier for me to plan out the book club sessions. I also wanted to ensure that it was not just about simply reading x number of chapters and asking people a list of questions in the discussion meetings; we like a bit of fun and creativity at CCM after all.
Speaking of our fun loving and creative side, I tasked each mini group to come up with a literary themed name for their group. They did not disappoint! We have: The Grim Readers, Couch to 5 Books, 50 Shades of Bean, Read it and Weep and The Mother Bookers.
The official first meetings to discuss Greenlights are booked in for the end of March, and everyone has really embraced reading the first couple of chapters. In fact, people are already talking about it. I’ve seen discussions of people sharing insights and how far through the book they are! These conversations have given me ideas for ‘discussion points’ in the upcoming meetings and allowed me to make each session more personable for those involved. It also helped that one part of the “preparation work” for the book club was to read the first couple of chapters and watch a Matthew McConaughey film they haven’t seen before. Who doesn’t love a Matthew McConaughey film, right?
So far, so good on CCM Book Club. Can I say it is a success yet? I would like to be optimistic and say yes - everyone is giving it a go, which is a win in my book. One thing is for sure though, I will be regularly checking in with everyone to get their input and I am really excited to watch how CCM Book Club evolves.
Watch this space!