Human Resources is uniquely qualified to help spread a practice that’s good for the firm and all the individuals in it. That practice is working out loud, which has been called “a required skill for today’s digital workforce.” In a recent interview on Forbes.com titled “Working Out Loud: Better for you, Better for the firm.” I described some of the benefits that come from forming Working Out Loud circles and spreading the practice across the firm.
With the support of HR, circles can spread faster and realize even more benefits. Here’s how.
A free, self-organizing personal development program
Every firm wants employees who can work across silos to get things done. Instead of one-off networking events, Working Out Loud circles help people develop the habit of sharing knowledge and making purposeful connections, all while improving their digital-readiness.
Several firms around the world are organically spreading circles based on the free circle guides and other resources. HR can reach more people by making Working Out Loud one of their offerings in Learning & Development.
A different kind of talent program
As more employees work out loud, more of their work is visible along with public feedback on it. Think of it as part of the best 360-degree performance review process you could devise, complete with authentic contributions and genuine feedback throughout the year.
Working Out Loud complements HR’s existing talent management programs. It helps leaders develop the skills they need to engage and influence their organization, and makes it easier for people at any level to become more effective by teaching them how to better leverage knowledge and connections across the firm.
Most Learning & Development organizations understand that the best learning doesn’t come from a course catalog or a classroom, but from experts already in the firm. Yet how many employees have the habit of offering expertise as a contribution? Or even asking questions to a broad online audience to discover on knowledge?
Google's head of HR, Laszlo Bock, writes about building a learning organization in his excellent book, Work Rules! and he makes a case that your firm's best teachers "are sitting right next to you." By facilitating the spread of Working Out Loud circles, HR can help employees develop the habit of sharing their knowledge, making it visible, and enabling others to build on it.
A way to increase employee engagement
We’ve all have heard that most employees don’t feel engaged at work, but what can HR do about it?
Working Out Loud circles are designed to tap into an individual’s intrinsic motivations: autonomy, mastery, and purpose or sense of relatedness. It’s why the book’s subtitle is “For a Better Career and Life.” As you build your network in a circle, you have a greater sense of control, including better access to learning and to opportunities. The process builds your connections to people in your circle and then to people in your growing network. Over your 12 weeks in a circle, the process helps you feel more connected to the firm and to people in it.
A better culture
Like employee engagement, corporate culture can be wrapped up in a formal program and monitored with a few questions on the annual employee survey, but it’s too much to ask HR to change it.
Culture is the result of the collective actions of people in the firm. A few hundred people working out loud - working in an open, generous, connected way - can make a difference. A few thousand people working that way can transform an organization.
A gift for your own HR department
It’s not easy being in Human Resources. Often, they’re caught between managers who want them to optimize resources and individuals who need them to make the firm a more humane place.
If you know someone in HR, send this post to them. You can make their job easier - and make their firm better - by helping them understand Working Out Loud and the ways it can complement what they already do.