Here’s a way to make working out loud even simpler and more convenient inside organizations: The Contribution Checklist. It’s tailor-made for any organization that uses an enterprise social network like Jive. I think this could be huge, and here’s why.
The core idea
At the heart of working out loud is building relationships based on contributions. These are the three questions you ask in a Working Out Loud circle:
- What am I trying to accomplish?
- Who can help me?
- How can I contribute to them to deepen the relationship?
But contributions vary in terms of the effort to create them, the value to the recipient, and the depth of the relationship. People can struggle to know what kind of contributions to make and how to make them. They need a guide.
The general guide
To help people inside the workplace, we developed a checklist (which is based off of contributions in When you want to get promoted). While making these kinds of contributions helps employees deepen relationships at work, it also provides them with an intrinsic motivation to use the enterprise social network at their firm. It answers the What’s in it for me?
Here are 10 types of contributions, starting with the simplest ones that advance the relationship slightly to contributions that take more time to create but can be much more valuable and meaningful.
Establish a connection with a person online by following them on [Jive Community] to see their updates. You can do this by using Browse -> People in [Jive Community]. Just click on the Browse, then People and then type in key words to filter to find the right person for you to connect with.
In the example from the Jive Community you can click on Browse and then People.
From there you can sort by additional filters listed below.
Once you find a person in [Jive Community], you can click on their profile and then click on the "Follow". Their latest updates will now show up in your Connections stream. If it is an executive or someone in your team you may also want to check the Inbox option so you will receive notifications in your inbox whenever they contribute content.
2. Show appreciation
Recognition and appreciation are “universal gifts” that Dale Carnegie wrote about in How to Win Friends and Influence People. It could be a Like button or a public “thank you” or giving someone credit for their good work. You can go to a piece of content written by the person you are looking to connect with, (such as a blog, document, discussion) and click Like. You can also Like comments and status updates.
3. Share learning
Sharing interesting content and the work of others you admire are low-risk, low-cost contributions that can help others. Feedback on your contributions can further your own learning. Just above Like and Bookmark you can find Share. You can use Share to more privately share content with others.
4. Connect the dots
Take something you found valuable and help spread it to other individuals or groups that might find it useful by @-mentioning it or sending it to them directly.
This can be done easily by commenting on a valuable piece of content and @-mentioning people, spaces or groups. You can also create your own status update or blog and @-mention the right people or places.
5. Ask a question
When done well, this takes more time. While vulnerability can be a gift, you want to frame your question as a contribution instead of a burden. That might include showing how you tried to get the answer before asking, offering recognition and appreciation for help, and ensuring the answer is available in such a way that it can help others.
- There are a number of ways to do this in [Jive Community]. One is to provide a comment to the person's content. You can do this by scrolling to the bottom of the content and selecting :Add a comment. The person will be notified that a comment has been added to their content through their "inbox".
- Provide your feedback and select "Add Comment"
6. Answer a question
This helps the person asking and anyone else who benefits from your answer in the future. When you answer questions in an informal, humble way, it also burnishes your reputation as someone who is knowledgeable and helpful.
Using [Jive Community], you are able to view the content that people post, including questions they may have asked. This provides an opportunity to answer the questions of people where you are specifically looking to deepen connection. You can do this by going to their profile, selecting Content and filtering on discussions. You can answer questions they have asked (Authored), questions where they have provided input or added to the conversation (Participated), or questions that they are also actively interested (Following).
Another technique would be to contribute to a group where that person is also a member, or a topic that is focused on your purpose. You can find groups by using Search, or by looking at the groups in which people in your network are participating. You can do this by selecting "Places" in the "More" tab of the person's profile. You can see groups they are interested in (Following), groups where they consider themselves Members (Group member) which usually denotes stronger affiliation, as well as groups they actually own (strongest affiliation).
7. Offer feedback
Here you’re trying to build on the work someone else has done in a way that credits the person’s original work while also helping others. The gift is constructive feedback that advances the work, and your feedback may also include appreciation or a question. This can be done using a constructive comment.
8. Share your experience
Reflect on your work. What have you learned – from both failures and successes – that might help others? For example, this could be resources you find useful or techniques you’ve found effective. Frame it in a way it feels less like “Look at me!” and more like “I thought you might be interested in this.”
One way to share your experiences in [Jive Community] is to create your personal blog. You can then use Share to share it with others what might be interested in this experience. Click on "Write a blog post" and at the very bottom you can find an option to choose "Your personal blog" This is an excellent way to share your stories and chronicle your journey. You also have a choose to post your blog in a specific place. In the example below, it is currently on Jive support. You can click on change and choose the most relevant place.
9. Offer original ideas
Beyond reflecting on what has been done, you can imagine what might be done in the future and frame that as a contribution. What opportunities do you see for improvement of some kind and what are your constructive ideas? Credit other people and build on their work wherever possible - which you can do by using the @mention feature. In the example below, when you want to credit a person, type @, which will produce a small drop-down menu. Continued to type the person's name (in this case, "John Stepper"). Type the first name. If the correct name does not appear as an option, use the _ key and continue to type more characters in the last name until it appears. Then select the correct name from the list. Now John will be notified about this discussion and my reference to him.
10. Connect a purposeful group
One of the most powerful contributions is connecting people who care about a particular topic and enabling them to work together on some positive change. It could be a working group that’s focused on a particular problem or a community of practice where members are interested in getting better individually and advancing the practice overall. You don’t manage the group but rather lead based on your contributions and your ability to encourage and empower others to contribute too.
It is very easy to browse your Jive community to join a purposeful group. Just click on Browse and then select Groups. After you have selected Groups you can also filter by keywords and the Filter by tag option.
In addition to creating a group of your own or being invited to a group, you can join other groups. Some of the group types have different requirements before you become a member.
1. When joining an existing group, you’ll see that there are four different privacy levels to determine who has access to view and contribute to the content of that group.
- Open groups are open to anyone to join. Anyone in your community can view and comment on content in Open groups without becoming a member. Open groups appear in search results and in the group directory.
- Members Only groups allow anyone to view content within them. You must be invited by the group owner or by another member of the group, or you must click the Join this group button on the group page. Members Only groups also appear in search results and in the group directory.
- Private groups are groups where only members can create, view, or comment on content. You must be invited by the group owner or by another member of the group, or you must click the Ask to join this group button on the group page. The group owner must approve requests to join Private groups before you have access to the content. Private groups appear in search results and in the group directory.
- Secret groups are completely confidential. Only the members of the group know they exist. You must be invited to join a Secret group. Secret groups do not appear to non-members when searched or browsed for.
2. To join an Open or Members Only group, navigate to the group and click the Join this Group button in the top right corner of the group header.
3. To join a Private group, navigate to the group. You will see a description and a button “Request access to this group”. Click that button and the group owner will review your request.
4. Invitations to a group will be presented to you in your Inbox as a notification.
The checklist & putting the idea into practice
The list above is still general. To create more specific checklists, you would work with experts in different areas and use real examples. You might create one checklist per division, per subdivision, or even per group, making the contributions ever more specific. That’s how you can answer questions like How does an accountant work out loud? An engineer? A nurse? A retail clerk? By referencing familiar people and projects, you can make it easier for any given group to practice making contributions immediately.
I distribute these checklists at every career development event I host, and hand them to people in the Working Out Loud circles that are spreading. I post them online at work so that anyone can reference them and improve on them. I’m working to give them to new employees so they can start building a purposeful network – and be more productive – on their very first day.
In The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande provided compelling examples of how something as simple as a checklist improved healthcare, air travel, construction, and a wide range of businesses. Now you can apply it to working out loud – something that’s better for the individual and better for the firm.