mandatory company book club

A reader writes:

Today, the owner of my company called everyone into the conference room and handed out copies of a book about the power of influence and persuasion. He announced that during our weekly team meetings, we will be discussing one chapter per week until we get through the book…like a forced company book club. We are allowed to do our reading during work time, which makes it a little better…but I sort of feel like I’m back in grade school. When he handed out the books, we all just sort of sat around dumbfounded.

I could see this being a useful exercise if we were a sales department…but we are graphic designers (and not the kind who get to come up with cool persuasive advertisements).

I will participate because it would create unnecessary drama if I didn’t. But I find this request really odd. Have you ever heard of mandatory company book club time?

Yes! And actually, when the book relates to your work in some way, it can be really useful, because so often the rush of day-to-day work means that people don’t have time to step back and focus on larger concepts. So setting aside time to learn about something relevant together and talk about it can be great.

But when the book doesn’t relate to your job, it’s potentially annoying.

It might be interesting to ask your boss at your first meeting what made him choose this particular book — not in a confrontational way, but in a sincerely-interested way.  (And actually, the topic of influence and persuasion can be pretty relevant in the workplace, regardless of what your job is, but that may or may not be his angle here.)

In any case, even though you’re a little put off, try to stay open-minded about it until you see how it goes — sometimes these things can end up being more worthwhile than you think. And if it’s not — well, in that case, it’s hard to imagine that it won’t at least be entertaining.

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