A new concept that is currently reaching the working world and once again sounds like a modern term from the New Work environment is that of Working Out Loud. But what does it mean?
Working Out Loud (WOL) is a concept that aims to share the accumulated knowledge of employees in a company both with their own colleagues and with others, and to form the necessary network. This requires skills such as openness, willingness to learn and communication skills on the part of the employees. The WOL method teaches and strengthens these skills.
The idea of the Working Out Loud came from the IT specialist Bryce Williams. His vision was to first make the collected “work knowledge” visible (Observable Work) and then to disseminate it via blog posts or social media (Narrating Your Work).
The 5 principles of the WOL method
Over time, this initial idea evolved into a concept that is no longer just designed to impart knowledge, but above all aims to improve communication and create networks within a company. The American John Stepper thus developed the five principles of the WOL method and described them in his book Working Out Loud: For a better career and life. They are:
- Purposeful Discovery
- Visible Work
- Growth Mindset
Employees should define self-chosen, individual goals and achieve them by acting generously, building relationships and with the help of their network. WOL is not just an abstract concept, but can be learned practically by employees in workshops.
The WOL Circle
Through a set scheme, employees are to internalize the principles of the WOL method. This includes a workshop called the WOL Circle. Three to six participants meet once a week for 12 weeks in person or online in a self-organized manner for a duration of one hour. These meetings focus on working through tasks defined in the Circle Guides with the goal of building and expanding the respective network, using it, helping others to network, and working together to achieve the defined goals.
The employees thus learn and experience the collaboration at the same time and can directly reflect on the new concept, which promotes the sustainability of the method. The composition of the individual workshop groups should be as diverse as possible, both in terms of the participants themselves and their respective backgrounds from the different areas of the company.
The choice of objective is crucial
There is no specific guideline regarding the objective that the WOL sessions should be aimed at. It should only be possible for the employees to work out and achieve the goal within twelve weeks. Existing goals, which may have arisen in the past on the basis of the HR or recruiting strategy, are preferably suitable for processing in the WOL environment. To assess one’s own goal, it is helpful to answer questions such as “Is my goal realistic to achieve in twelve weeks?” or “Can others help me achieve my goal at all?”.
The WOL Program
Once the participants of a WOL Circle have found each other, they work together on the 12 points of the program defined in John Stepper’s WOL Guide, the so-called sessions. The documents required for this are available on the website operated by John Stepper and are free of charge for personal, non-commercial use. Each week, then, one of the points is covered. These are:
- Formulating one’s goal and developing a list of contacts of people related to that goal.
- Contacting people on the contact list and making one’s own knowledge and help available to the other participants
- Taking the first steps towards achieving the goal, using the network already in place
- Generate attention
- Share 50 facts about yourself
- Generate visibility via social media
- Draw first interim conclusion and make adjustments as necessary on the way to the goal
- Strengthen habits
- Finding and using sources that hold helpful knowledge
- Develop routines and systematic approach
- Establish comprehensive thinking and multiply opportunities
- Reflection of the WOL process and closing ceremony
The added value of WOL for companies
The WOL concept has a positive effect on employees and companies in many ways. First, there is a strengthening of trust, communication and the exchange of experience and knowledge. Employees from different departments, who otherwise have few contacts outside their own work environment, find each other across departments and can benefit from their new network. Ultimately, the company also benefits from the new ways of thinking and dynamics that emerge. At the same time, it promotes internal problem-solving and learning, so that companies can become more flexible, innovative and sustainable.
In addition to the company, employees also benefit from the WOL principle with regard to their own careers. Not only can they network more effectively, but they can also learn new practical skills. One example of this is the use of new media or passing on their IT knowledge to other colleagues. The benefits are great, but the costs to the company are low. Due to the self-organization and the prefabricated concepts and guidelines of the WOL, there are no costs.
The WOL method is gradually gaining acceptance all over the world. While the Circle Guides were originally only available in English, they are now also available in German and even Portuguese. In at least 42 countries, from the USA to China and Brazil to Germany, companies, but increasingly also people in their private lives, are relying on the WOL methods.
Working Out Loud in HR and Recruiting
Also in the HR and Recruiting area, the Workng Out Loud concept can do a lot and bring added value. Nowadays, HR departments alone can no longer successfully carry out external recruiting measures. It requires networking with the client, i.e. the department of one’s own company that is looking for a new employee. This is the only way to find the best talents and win them for the company.
The Workng Out Loud concept promotes contact between employees from different departments and thus contributes to successful recruiting processes. After all, experts from the company’s own IT department, for example, are in a much better position to assess applicants and their professional skills than their colleagues in the HR department who are not experts in the field. WOL also helps in internal recruiting, as it enables the discovery of hidden talent and can open up completely new career paths for employees. In addition, the WOL concept can already successfully promote new employees during the onboarding process, as contact is immediately established and knowledge is exchanged. This immediately builds trust in the new colleagues and the company. In addition, the WOL concept becomes established in the company, as new employees are directly familiar with it.
In order to implement the Workng Out Loud method across the board, companies should enlist the help of their HR managers. They can not only contribute to the formation of a WOL Circle, but also initiate the next important steps. These include the appointment of WOL mentors and the acquisition of employees who have already successfully completed such a program and actively stand as ambassadors for the project.
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