(Note: For WOLweek, each day this week I'll post something related to Working Out Loud. This post originally appeared on workingoutloud.com on June 17th, 2015.)
As more and more peer supports groups form, I get a chance to see what’s working well for them and what’s challenging.
Having interacted with dozens of groups, I can confidently say this: circles work. The positive results described in the Amazon reviews so far are common, and they range from feeling more open and optimistic to accomplishing specific goals.
“After just one WOL Circle meeting, I was already feeling more connected with my colleagues and more encouraged about my career.”
“I joined a Working Out Loud circle that followed this book and it helped me propel my small business idea into a successful, profitable and continuously growing venture…it helped me grow my network in a real and genuine way that felt comfortable and empowering.”
“Work has so much more meaning now and I feel like I’m in control of my own career destiny.”
Here are some tips to help you and your circle get results like this.
5 tips for your circle
All peer support groups – from Weight Watchers to LeanIn – face some common challenges. It’s hard to form new habits. The best groups make it easy to start and maintain positive momentum until the new behavior is unthinking and feels natural.
Doing these 5 things will increase the chances you and your group will have a positive experience.
Keep the logistics simple. Schedule all the meetings at your first session, sticking to the same time and place. That makes it easier for everyone to remember and avoids the hassle of scheduling something every week.
Read the circle guides (at least). The more prepared you are, the better. Read the lightweight guide at a minimum. The book, the contribution checklist, and the growing FAQ are all good resources that will improve your effectiveness.
Have a clear, achievable goal you care about. Focus on a simple learning goal (“I’d like to explore that” or “I’d like to get better at that”), or pick a straightforward work goal (“I’d like more recognition at work”). Better to practice and make progress than pick a goal you feel you should have but is too abstract or isn’t appealing enough. There are good examples of goals in the book, the guide, and the FAQ.
Schedule time to work out loud. Building relationships is an investment in yourself. Remember to “pay yourself first.” Even a single 30-minute session each week or two 15-minute sessions will help you build a network toward a goal you care about.
If you get stuck, get help. There are circles forming in 8 countries now with people around the world willing to help you, including a moderated Facebook community where you can post questions and connect with other circles.
Working Out Loud circles are meant to be easy and lightweight. Just one meeting a week with a few other people to build a network toward something you care about. The support, structure, and shared accountability in your circle help you be successful.
Some people indeed find it easy:
“I am using this book currently in a Working Out Loud Circle at work and I am so impressed with how simple it is to implement and how effective the techniques are.”
Since people learn in different ways, there are improvements coming to make it even easier for everyone. This includes short videos and lightweight, simple, week-by-week tips and exercises.
If you have other ideas to make things easier, please post a comment. The more people we can help, the better.