logo image

ATD Blog

Build Stronger Teams Through Shared Learning


Thu May 25 2023

Build Stronger Teams Through Shared Learning

Brought to you by

How a book club can help employees develop power skills.

Power skills, sometimes called “people skills,” are interpersonal and communication skills that help teams and individuals work together effectively.


While modern upskilling often focuses on keeping pace with technology and shifting workplace dynamics, power skills are the heart of strong relationships, innovation, and organizational success.

How can teams effectively develop these skills and build stronger teams? One of the best ways is through shared learning, like a team book club.

Shared Learning: The Power of a Book Club

All too often, the workplace becomes a transactional experience of deadlines, meetings, and project kickoffs. A book club provides dedicated time to slow down and learn together, have meaningful discussions, and engage with new ideas outside of the day-to-day hustle. Team members get to practice speaking up, being vulnerable, negotiating conflict, and active listening.

Keep reading to learn how a book club can set the stage for key power skills.

Fostering Collaboration

A book club not only gives team members “aha” moments about big ideas—it gives them “aha” moments about one another. As employees read, learn, and talk together, they better understand each other’s perspectives, experiences, and values.


Tip: Give everyone a chance to speak up and offer an opinion. This will help draw shy employees into the discussion.

Developing Communication Skills

Discussing a book’s themes and ideas can help team members practice articulating their thoughts in clear, concise ways. Unlike asynchronous communication methods (email chains, comment threads), a real-time group discussion gives people immediate feedback on their communication style. Team members can self-correct if their approach isn’t resonating with others and learn more about different communication styles.

Tip: Keep neurodiversity in mind! Not everyone learns or communicates the same way. Encourage team members to build a communication template that works broadly—for example, speaking slowly, summarizing key points, or using visual aids.

Promoting Agile Thinking

Diverse perspectives in books can inspire team members to think more critically and challenge preconceived ideas—their own and one another’s.

Tip: It can feel vulnerable to consider new ideas. Set ground rules for healthy discussion and respectful debate at the start of each book club—for example, no interrupting, and keep criticism focused on ideas rather than individuals.


Cultivating Active Listening

Book clubs encourage dialogue, but they also provide an opportunity to practice listening. When team members feel heard, they trust, support, and rely on one another more. Over time, they develop strong interpersonal bonds that lift team morale, productivity, and overall performance.

Tip: Encourage team members to paraphrase what another person said before offering their own opinion, especially if that opinion is contradictory. Model asking follow-up questions to ensure you fully understand the other person’s perspective before responding.

Stoking Curiosity

A book club can foster curiosity and help build a culture of continuous learning. The brain loves making new connections, and employees thrive when they are growing and progressing.

As new ideas and perspectives unfold, recurring problems and challenges feel less entrenched. The solution might just be a new point of view!

Tip: Ask open-ended questions that spark discussion and encourage team members to explore different perspectives. For example, instead of asking what the team members thought of the book, ask, “What connections did you make between the book and our team meetings?”

Practicing Empathy and Conflict Resolution

Disagreements inevitably arise during book club discussions—and that’s OK. These moments allow team members to practice empathy, active listening, respectful communication, and compromise in real time.

Tip: When conflicts arise during discussions, encourage team members to voice their opinions, and guide the conversation toward common ground and solutions.

The Value of Shared Learning

Power skills will always be vital to success regardless of the latest technology or workplace dynamic. But building strong teams that can communicate effectively, problem solve, and innovate requires intentional effort.

That’s where book clubs come in. They give employees the chance to slow down and learn together. And the byproducts of that learning include better collaboration and communication, more agile thinking, active listening, curiosity, empathy, and conflict resolution. So, gather your team, pick a book, and start building a stronger team through shared learning.

You've Reached ATD Member-only Content

Become an ATD member to continue

Already a member?Sign In


Copyright © 2024 ATD

ASTD changed its name to ATD to meet the growing needs of a dynamic, global profession.

Terms of UsePrivacy NoticeCookie Policy