Why Should You Know About Working Out Loud?
Introduced in 2010 by Bryce Williams, working out loud (WOL) is now a popular methodology for learning and social collaboration in work. Employees recognize that WOL supports their development, and employers are witnessing immense improvements in how their teams work after implementing this. The concept validates the importance of working together to tap collective intelligence for the betterment of both the employee and the employer.
Working out loud undoubtedly helps people share knowledge, mutually grow, and create a better work culture. Moreover, this becomes convenient using modern knowledge management software tools that provide numerous features for communication, collaboration, and document management.
Working out loud is a technique that boosts knowledge demand, supply, and thus overall knowledge management. According to a Bosch survey, 91% of their WOL circle members recommended the WOL method in their network. Around 92% of their working out loud program participants opined that learning in circles was more beneficial than traditional (classroom) training methods. Besides, 89% of participants concluded that the program increases digital capabilities and supports cultural change.
So, what exactly is working out loud?
Working Out Loud - The Idea Behind the Concept
Working out loud is a collaborative knowledge-sharing concept where employees get connected through open collaboration with the right controls in place to enhance communication and knowledge management. It is a new way of working that insists on the fact of connecting with the firm and the people in it to mutually benefit. People discuss their work and share the details virtually in these groups. Besides, they get to view others’ work, improve communication, and provide their fair opinion or feedback on the same. They can also learn from others’ work, ask queries to gain more knowledge, and leverage the learning/knowledge to improve their work.
Knowledge sharing is not successful if forced. Companies realize that it can only be improved by building an environment or work culture that inherently drives people to seek knowledge from others and share it with others. Working out loud helps create such an environment in a workplace where the craving for knowledge and its supply both rise gradually.
Thus, WOL is a peer-coaching methodology where every participant can gain from information flowing easily across boundaries based on their preferences. It aims at making work visible as well as helpful to others. It helps cultivate better relationships among employees that can help them develop new skills and goals and achieve more. Improved relationships increase trust and encourage honest feedback of one’s work from peers.
John Stepper’s book titled, “Working Out Loud”, has created a global working out loud movement out of the WOL concept. Through his book, he has helped people and companies develop new habits and a new mindset altogether.
Companies that have adopted working out loud recognize that this has improved their overall work culture and performance. Managers also perceive this as a people management technique, apart from knowledge management, as it helps train, engage, and retain employees.
5 Significant Elements of Working Out Loud
Businesses are rapidly adopting working out loud to create a better culture at work. To get the best out of working out loud, it is important to understand its goal and intricacies. Here are the five crucial elements of working out loud.
A critical element in working out loud is transparency or generosity. For efficient WOL, it is vital to develop or earn trust. It can be achieved by being transparent in communication in the WOL network, decisions, and processes. Additionally, the participants must discuss and communicate clearly and fairly. They need to be generous in sharing their knowledge and must lead by example.
Transparency is the crux of networking. Without generous or transparent communication, the network cannot be fruitful, and the purpose gets lost. Moreover, generosity involves an immense responsibility. Participants of the WOL network must be ready to recognize and appreciate the work of others. Most importantly, the appreciation should be genuine to be able to earn trust and set the right example. The golden rule for successful working out loud is a give-first approach. It is necessary to exhibit generosity first and then expect the same from peers.
James Cash Penney said, “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” The ultimate goal of working out loud is growth and making the work better. So, it is essential to follow a growth mindset to make WOL successful. It involves learning from others’ work and analyzing if they do something that one can adopt to improve the outcome.
WOL participants may get no response or negative feedback for their shared work from other network participants. In such circumstances, it is essential to keep trying. For example, for negative feedback, one should respond positively and seek suggestions for improvement from peers. Also, they can implement these learnings in their work, share the work again, and encourage others to provide feedback on the re-work.
Additionally, employers must realize that growth should be overall and mutual. To ensure this, people at all levels, irrespective of the hierarchy, should be open to suggestions and feedback for improvement. It creates the attitude of organizational growth, which is not affected by personal biases or even positions at work.
Building relationships is a necessity for knowledge management to be successful. The work-out-load concept has evolved into a means for building employee-to-employee as well as employer-employee relationships at work. As people interact more, it contributes to group and team building. It helps resolve communication issues at work when people become more comfortable discussing significant problems with their peers.
The well-known Maslow’s hierarchy of needs also identifies relationships as a crucial human need. Moreover, the more relationships people build, the more help they get at the workplace. WOL gives a sense of community and togetherness. Like other social networks, it becomes entertaining for the employees to share information, activities, and knowledge with their peers through this channel. Working out loud thus also helps reduce attrition and enhance employee retention by developing and strengthening relationships.
Work-out-loud is not just entertainment. Employers should ensure that work-out-loud activities are purposeful. Also, it should not be done merely for the sake of doing something new and just using the available tools. After all, we have tools available for almost everything, and everyone is using the same tools. However, organizations should try their best to use these tools for the development of the employees. Consequently, it aids in the development of the organization as a whole.
There are various ways employers can make work-out-loud purposeful. For example, the team heads can mention and congratulate the weekly or monthly performers through this channel. Moreover, it can also be used for mentioning achievements and milestones achieved. All of these encourage the employees to perform better. It results in a motivated workforce with healthy teamwork and team spirit among the employees.
Furthermore, employers have few means to gauge the level of activity, belongingness, and cohesion among the employees and the teams. WOL is also an excellent opportunity for employers to evaluate the levels of communication in teams and organizations as a whole. When they identify the communication bottlenecks, they can do their part to remove them.
Employees often complain that their work is not visible to their employers. Some are vocal about it, while some others are not. But, in either case, it can affect their performance. It is a well-established fact that we all get motivated through peer appreciation. Thus, visibility is another critical element of working out loud.
Work-out-loud is a perfect way to give the employees a platform for visibility. They can share their work, achievements, events, activities, and a lot more. Whatever they share is visible to the organizational community. It acts as a morale booster for those who crave appreciation and recognition from their peers and superiors.
How Can Working Out Loud Benefit Knowledge Management?
Developing and utilizing a helpful knowledge base is crucial for every organization, but achieving perfect knowledge management is challenging. Here are the hindrances that companies typically face, which shrink the effectiveness of knowledge management:
- Creating a robust knowledgebase for employees to utilize
- Making employees understand or interpret the data correctly so that they can use it constructively
- Ensuring that the knowledge resources are leveraged well
- Creating a work culture that supports knowledge sharing by making employees understand its significance
- Employees need to be encouraged and motivated to contribute to knowledge sharing and management
- Measuring knowledge contribution
- Data security and sharing knowledge with the right/relevant people
- Lack of communication and collaboration hampers knowledge management efforts
- Lack of acceptance for change along with rapid and uncommunicated change process
Working out loud methodology helps eliminate these issues when implemented with the right knowledge management software tools.
So, here is how working out loud benefits knowledge management.
Developing Knowledge Base
Working out loud helps build a library of knowledge resources. The working out loud network participants share their work, helpful information, tips, and more with other participants. All this data, virtually stored in a common repository, becomes a knowledge base of valuable information. Thus, WOL eases knowledge management.
An extensive knowledge base is a precious asset for any organization. It helps future employees reuse and gain from existing skills and expertise. WOL activities act as a continued source of knowledge addition that businesses can leverage to perform better.
Knowledge sharing through working out loud enables solving complex issues quickly through group brainstorming, which is the ultimate goal of knowledge management. Discussing the work with a large group creates a better reach. WOL thus allows discovering experts among the peers and seeking their valuable suggestions.
Moreover, multiple ideas/suggestions for a participant’s problem can help bring out a better solution, resulting in learning and development for all. With simultaneous opinions from many people at the same time, employees can make better and faster decisions.
Enhanced Communication and Motivation
The communication barrier is one of the biggest problems in human resource management for companies. Lack of communication can lead to low morale and misunderstandings between employees.
WOL motivates employees to communicate and be more transparent about their work. It encourages them to engage with peers and share knowledge. Enhanced communication between employees automatically generates a trust bond that motivates people to share knowledge. It acts as an employee engagement activity that improves the psychological well-being of employees and propels knowledge management.
Feedback is the way we improve. So, we all need feedback to work better; but, getting honest feedback at work is not easy. Moreover, employees typically seek feedback only from close friends and those people with whom they interact regularly. It restricts the quality and effectiveness of feedback.
Peer feedback through WOL is an innovative way to get genuine feedback from multiple people simultaneously. Multiple interactions through WOL groups enable people to grow their feedback circle and improve from it. Working out loud thus serves a crucial purpose of knowledge management.
Building Healthy Work Culture
With so many advantages, as discussed, working out loud helps companies create a work culture where people mutually learn and grow. The working out loud concept aims to enrich the individual employee's capability to access, build, and share knowledge with other employees to make purposeful connections across the company. It promotes teamwork, develops a bond between peers, improves workplace relationships, promotes healthy group dynamics, and supports organizational agility.
Knowledge management with WOL methodology thus helps build a better work culture for organizations. As WOL improves knowledge management, the employees and employers are empowered to contribute to the organization’s growth.
As Hamilton Beazley rightly stated, “Knowledge is the new capital, but it’s worthless unless it’s accessible, communicated, and enhanced.”
Knowledge management is a set of processes that help create a knowledge base, make knowledge accessible, communicate it, and enhance it. Numerous knowledge management software tools and enterprise social collaboration tools are available that organizations and their employees can use to achieve better knowledge management.
Apart from these tools, the working-out-loud methodology is proving to be a great success in managing knowledge more effectively. The WOL concept is a self-service knowledge management strategy that is easy to implement.
Working out loud is a unique approach to knowledge management that merges socializing, entertainment, and sharing knowledge. Besides, working out loud as a virtual network can be conveniently implemented in the trending hybrid work model where employees work from different locations.
Adopt working out loud to create an ideal work environment that supports knowledge management, builds long-lasting relationships, and promotes healthy working.
Knowledge bases seem to be the hot new thing online these days. Whenever a customer is looking to learn about a brand, its products, and services, he/she is directed to a ... continue reading