CEO of Teamwork.com, Peter Coppinger, shares details of how the company is building a strong reading culture to support the professional growth and development of every team member.
I’m a firm believer that reading is the best shortcut to growth.
When I hear of companies with an internal book club, I must admit I’m a little jealous because I believe that having something like this helps to build better companies.
We did attempt a company book club here at Teamwork.com a while back, but to be completely honest it was a disaster because we assumed a book club should operate in a certain way. We were forcing people to have a book read by a certain date and to discuss it as a group. That was the wrong way to do it, and the result was that it sucked the joy out of the process.
I realize that not every improvement initiative is going to work for every company, so I made the decision to continue experimenting with ways to encourage workplace reading until we found the right fit for Teamwork. After trying, testing (and failing!) with the book club initiative I decided to make another attempt at promoting reading in our workplace.
Today, we’ve replaced the book club concept with recommended readings.
Whenever I come across a book that has the potential to improve Teamwork.com or encourage professional development I always recommend the titles to the rest of the team in Teamwork Chat. I wanted to take this a step further so taking inspiration from David Cancel and the list he published on Seeking Wisdom I purchased 10 copies of all 13 books for Teamwork.com’s office library. The titles are:
- Ego Is The Enemy
- The One Thing
- Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It
- Do The Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way
- Sam Walton: Made In America
- The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership
- From Impossible To Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue
- Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products
- Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers
- Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry
- Marketing: A Love Story: How to Matter to Your Customers
- Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Here’s a snippet from the internal blog post I published when I announced the recommended reading list initiative to the rest of the team:
These books will be in the office library in January, and I’d love, if, in your spare time you would pick one to read and share your thoughts. Remote Teamsters, all you need to do is create a task for the Accounts team specifying which books you want. Also, if anybody wants to keep a copy from the office library for themselves, that’s no problem, just replace it by creating a task for the Accounts team.
Shortly after introducing the recommended reading list to Teamwork, I figured that this wasn’t enough, so I made the decision to take my quest to encourage reading another step further again by including copies of all 13 books in each of our new hire’s onboarding packs. I also made the team aware that the company is happy to buy books, ebooks or audiobooks once the simplicity of our expense policy is kept in mind: “Always act in Teamwork.com’s best interest.”
The reason why I want to build a strong reading culture is simple—I want Teamwork.com to be a company staffed exclusively with people who are continuously learning—and books are the best way to do this. That said, I understand that we all have life and time pressures and other pursuits so all I ask of everyone (including myself) is that we do our best, even if that just means reading a few pages when we’re taking a break.
Looking ahead to next year, one idea I have is to make our recommended reading list collaborative by updating it with the 10-15 most recommended books from the entire team.
If anyone has other ideas on how to build a strong reading culture at work, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!