Develop skills for the future with the help of Working Out Loud
One day I stumbled upon the three letters WOL in Currents and was curious to know what they meant, so I signed up for a WOL Circle without knowing precisely what it involved,” recalls Petra Welter, member of the Executive Committee of the Roche Employees’ Association (AVR).
WOL stands for Working Out Loud, a method developed by John Stepper that is about creating space for mutual support, exchange and inspiration in order to enhance one’s emotional and social skills – skills which, alongside digital capabilities, are becoming more and more important in this day and age. “Contrary to what you would think from the name, Working Out Loud does not involve aggressive, loud flaunting of one’s own work. It is about self-organised learning, maintaining existing relationships and forging new ones, sharing knowledge and experience and making one’s work visible through the use of digital media,” explains Ronald Warnecke, who promotes the subject at Roche with Andrea Szelenyi, Andrea Wenger and Stephanie Malz in the WOL@Roche Core Team.
The origins of the idea
Roche employees first came into contact with Working Out Loud exactly two years ago, at the Social Collaboration Summit in Zurich in October 2018, and were immediately impressed. A team formed and introduced the method at Roche as a grassroots initiative. Since January 2019, Working Out Loud has been available to all Roche employees free of charge.
The principle is simple: the participants in a Circle invest one hour per week over a period of twelve weeks. Instructions are sent out by e-mail on a weekly basis with suggestions as to what the group might discuss, such as “Which specific steps have I taken this week to get closer to my goal?” Then there are practical tasks, for example how to create your own profile, write a post or contact total strangers. In this way, employees gradually improve their skills and overcome their inhibitions. “One of the things I loved was the fact that we designed the learning process together in the group and supported one another. This enabled us to grow together,” says Petra.
More than 800 Roche employees in some 45 countries have taken part in WOL to date. Their experiences have been positive: “WOL encourages a self-reliant, motivated attitude to work and boosts networking skills, which in turn increases the exchange of knowledge and cooperation between departments,” says Ronald. Petra agrees: “As a result of what I’ve learned, I am now much more willing to share unfinished work with others, for example.”
The next goal of the team is to get even more employees on board with Working Out Loud. At least ten percent of Roche’s workforce should be brought into contact with WOL and a network of multipliers established. The AVR is supporting them with this goal.