Andrea Vaughan, Phoenix Mecano’s HR Manager, is a lifelong reader. So it’s only natural that she would look for ways to use reading to help create camaraderie, find connections, and ultimately build team synergy at the global technology company’s Frederick location where she works.
Several months ago, Vaughan started an organization-wide book club featuring pre-selected business titles to encourage new ideas and stimulate discussion. Taken chapter by chapter and co-led by two Phoenix Mecano managers, the book club, says Vaughan, has already gotten people talking.
For the Phoenix Mecano Book Club’s first selection, Vaughan chose Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results by Mike Rother. Described as a “game-changing book that puts (readers) behind the curtain at Toyota,” the New York Times bestseller talks about the Japanese automotive giant’s organizational routines that power its success and how they help develop everyone’s ability to consistently work toward and achieve new levels of performance.
“The Book Club has been really interesting so far because it’s giving us an opportunity to talk about business-related topics in a non-threatening way,” says Vaughan. “People just share ideas without getting territorial or defensive in any way—and that’s really helpful.”
One chapter in Toyota Kata, explains Vaughan, talks about how the organization empowers its employees to handle dynamic, unpredictable situations so that customer satisfaction isn’t affected. “The book gives some really interesting, practical examples of this, including how to identify problems and deal with them in ways that produce superior results and even provide a competitive advantage,” she says. “There’s a lot of food for thought in topics like that—I know I’ve learned a lot from listening to the various points of view.”
Discussing the Toyota Kata has been interesting because of the business-related concepts the group has been able to explore together. What has made the discussions even more meaningful, she says, is how they are creating synergy and camaraderie among the many different people who work at Phoenix Mecano.
“The Book Club is valuable not only because it is educational, but because it’s helping to reveal common ground and connections where our employees didn’t realize there were any,” she explains. “Through talking about things that come up in the books, people are discovering new connections with people they work with—and that’s a powerful thing.”