Our blog “Leadership for Office 365”

Working Out Loud as a People Manager

Working Out Loud as a People Manager

Do you want to deepen your relationships with your team members?

Working Out Loud (WOL) could be a methodology for you.

In this blog article I will go through how a people manager like yourself can work out loud in Office 365 and the investigate what effects it can have.

What is Working Out Loud?

The term Working Out Loud was first coined by Bryce Williams in 2010 and he defined it as Observable Work (share your work in places where others can see it, follow it, and contribute to it in process) + Narrating Your Work (writing about what you are doing in an open way for those interested to find and follow).

One aspect that appeals to me is the fact that by doing this you become increasingly aware of your own intentions and inner workings. In this respect it is related to Theory U (of Otto Sharmer at MIT) where “presencing” (a combination of sensing and presence) is key for finding innovative solutions that are sustainable.

So you might ask yourself now “Why would you want to do that? It seems like hard work”.

Indeed, it is.

But it is exactly what needs to be done in order to create, deepen and maintain relationships. And as we are living in a digital era, learning to Work Out Loud via the digital channels you have at your disposal is a skill that is able to pay off well.

Here’s an introduction to WOL by John Stepper who is the founder of the WOL movement (not the person who coined the expression, though).

The five elements of WOL are (see this infographic for a visual representation):

  1. Relationships
  2. Generosity
  3. Visible work
  4. Purposeful discovery
  5. Growth mindset

The benefits of Working Out Loud

Some of the benefits for a people manager of practicing working out loud within his or her own team could be:

  1. You are able to progress from old ways of working to new and better ones for yourself
  2. You would model an open way of working for your subordinates
  3. This would show that you have trust in them (showing yourself vulnerable in not knowing all, by being human like them)
  4. The effect could be that the hierarchy would flatten out within your team with more empowered team members

In a Teams context WOL helps to avoid fragmentation of communication into different email threads (and different sets of people) and prevents out-of-sync replies.

How to Work Out Loud in Office 365?

So which tools and apps could you use for Working Out Loud within Office 365?

Of course, Yammer is the spot-on tool for Working Out Loud. Not all organisations have Yammer, though, and Yammer is more for Working Out Loud within the organisation. For a people manager looking to deepen his or her relationships within the team, Teams will do very well.

In my view Teams has many features that could encourage the team to share its work, in-progress. 

  • Starting a conversation for a document that is developed and talking to the other people on the right-hand side of the screen (see this screenshot for an example of this). The conversation is visible as a thread in the Posts tab for the other team members.
  • You could also have a channel in the Team called “WOL” or similar as a place for you to post work in progress. What are you working on right now that your team members could be interested in?

You could also use SharePoint for posting more blog like articles via the News function.

Conclusion

If you are interesting in learning to practice Working Out Loud, this infographic shows a suggested way.

A thorough blog article on leadership in the digital era (by Dion Hinchcliffe) can be accessed here: https://dionhinchcliffe.com/2020/05/06/the-most-vital-digital-management-skill-network-leadership/

If you feel like joining a WOL circle and get help from other people interested in WOL, have a look at https://circlefinder.workingoutloud.com/

And if you are interested in joining a WOL circle specifically for “People Managers and Office 365” you are welcome to contact me and I might arrange such a circle (all WOL circles are free of charge).