It can be difficult to connect with others during this time of isolation. However, our Management Practice Specialty has found a way to connect members while adhering to distancing guidelines. Paul Lane, the practice specialty’s Professional Development Chair and a professional member of our Greater Boston Chapter, took the initiative to start a virtual book club.
“We were brainstorming ideas at our advisory committee meetings earlier this year for ways to engage more practice specialty members and add value to their membership,” says Lane. “I also saw an opportunity to promote interest in ASSP and the Management Practice Specialty by inviting student members through the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Advanced Safety and Engineering Management graduate program where I am currently enrolled.”
Lane explains that he thought a virtual book club would be a simple way to engage members in a low-pressure environment. Via the ASSP Community, members can access the Management Practice Specialty community page and discuss the book of the month at their own leisure, as opposed to trying to organize a time when everyone is free to discuss it. The group’s first book was The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth, by Amy C. Edmondson, and members had an opportunity to post comments about the book in the ASSP Community throughout the month of April.
“My vision was to create a forum for people to read a book on general management and share their perspectives and insights," says Lane. The goal isn’t to critique the book or the author, but to stimulate conversation about the the principles it discusses.
Joe Tavenner, a Management Practice Specialty member and professional member of our Georgia Chapter, explains that there is always room for improvement in one’s profession, and that he is hopeful for the future of the virtual book club.
“This is our first month, so we are testing our assumptions and will most likely change and improve as we continue to develop a process that will work for the members,” says Tavenner. “I believe getting members engaged will continue to be a challenge, but we hope we can make it fun and easy.”
Lane has some great advice to share with other ASSP communities that are looking for ways to connect with members virtually.
- Make it easy for members to participate. When starting the book club, Lane included hyperlinks to where members could purchase the book as well as to the practice specialty’s page on the ASSP Community and to the ASSP student membership page for university announcements.
- Think about the time commitment needed from participants. Time is a scarce commodity for many members, so try to keep the time requirement low to allow more people to participate.
- Consider using your community event as a way to spread the word about ASSP. “I recommend reaching out to student communities at various universities as a means to increase awareness and participation in ASSP for future safety professionals,” says Lane.
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