update from the reader whose boss started a mandatory book club

Remember the letter-writer last month whose boss had started a mandatory company book club, and she was annoyed? I told her to keep an open mind about it, as long as the book related to her work in some way. Well, I was wrong. Here’s her update:

I am the poster whose boss started a mandatory book club, and I wanted to write back with an update about how it’s been going. We have each been assigned a chapter for which we are in charge of leading a group book discussion during our company meetings. The first week belonged to my coworker, who tried to facilitate a discussion, but since nobody could easily apply the lessons in the first chapter to what we do at work, our boss monopolized the rest of the book discussion talking about his personal life experiences as they related to the book.

Last week’s chapter was my responsibility. I put forth a sincere attempt to steer the discussion towards the topic of how we could apply the chapter’s principles to the operations of our company. After some encouragement, I was able to eke out two good ideas from the group. Then, my boss said, “We don’t have to relate the book to what we do here at work; I really just want you guys to read this book for your own personal development because I enjoyed it and I think you will too. I didn’t remember how long it was though! Sorry about the 50 page chapters, guys. Great job!”

(That was actually the first clear directive we had received as to why we were reading the book.)

So it quickly became very clear that we are just having the mandatory book club because the boss remembered liking this book, and he thought our personal everyday lives would be enriched through it. He doesn’t seem to care if we can’t apply it to our jobs.

When all is said and done, he means well. But I think a better option would have been for him to offer an optional “lunch & learn book club” for anyone who sincerely wanted to participate in this kind of self-growth opportunity.

I appreciate your advice and that of all the posters.

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