Sara-Lena Eisermann has been Customer Happiness Manager at Tandemploy GmbH since 01.02.2018. Previously, she was HR Specialist at Spreadshirt in Leipzig. During this time, she had already started to study the Working Out Loud (WOL) method. She is currently in the middle of a 12-week WOL Circle. In the interview, she talked about her experiences with WOL and what added value this method can have for companies.
Sara, you’re in a 12-week WOL Circle right now. How did that come about and how have your experiences with it been?
I heard about the method for the first time at a Meetup for “Working Out Loud” in Leipzig. Half a year later, WOL crossed my path again: the three letters and the Namaste Emoji suddenly popped up everywhere in my social network, spread mainly on LinkedIn and Twitter in a wave of “namaste-ing.” At first, I was a bit critical, but I really wanted to get to know the method and try it myself. When I saw the tweet from Sabine Prettenhofer in January who was looking for people to join her WOL Circle, I thought to myself, “This is the perfect time because, at the beginning of February, my new job in the Customer Happiness Team at Tandemploy was about to start.” Almost at the same time I met my virtual WOL Circle: Sabine Prettenhofer, Karsten Fanke, Sandra Rau and Markus Buckmann. We are now in the second half of our circle, and my first sobering but positive realization is this: WOL is not a new panacea for digital transformation, but rather a very simple and systematic method to learn with others how to make your work more self-organized in a structured, focused and sustainable way. The individual goal is important for the process and the learning curve – but for me it is a means to an end. It is more about shaping the learning process together, growing together, and supporting each other. Through the targeted focus and the exchange with my peer group, I pursue my goals much more consistently and in a more structured way – that also makes it much more fun! Ultimately, the achievement of goals for me personally is less the focus; rather, it’s about the experience, the trial and error and practice of the methods.
I can only draw a true conclusion after the end of the complete circle, but I’m already curious which professional and private changes I have yet to find.
What makes you passionate about Working Out Loud?
From the USA to Germany and China – more and more people around the world are catching the WOL virus. WOL is simple and it is this simplicity that inspires me! Anyone can start at any time and make their own personal development. For me, Working Out Loud is a concept for self-organized and networked learning and I am convinced that we work more successfully together in networks. John Stepper’s guidelines, which are open source, are very structured and contain many concrete exercises. The knowledge exchange with the group creates a collective learning process and therefore a lot of motivation and discipline as well as a strong sense of connectedness. I think the best thing is: WOL is effective for everyone individually – there is no right or wrong. WOL does not dictate to me what to do, or how or when to do it; I decide what suits me, my personality, my way of working, and my time management. That’s why WOL is so intense, multi-layered and profound.
There is currently a great discussion about the sustainability and effectiveness of Working Out Loud. What do you think about that? What is WOL suitable for as a method? What added value can companies get, especially with regard to digital transformation?
I find the discussions in the network as very constructive, appreciative and productive. Furthermore, critical discussions with WOL are important and I would encourage everyone to try it for themselves. The method lends itself to building strong networks with sustainable and stable relationships through something very human: by bringing true appreciation and genuine interest in others. Therein lies the greatest potential of WOL for me. During the 12 weeks, you will learn different techniques that can be practiced together with the group in a protected space, without fear of failure or evaluation. It is about achieving a change in attitude and behavior in everyday life, in working methods; i.e., a real change in mindset. I now pay much more attention to how I write messages or e-mails and comment online. In the meantime, I dare to share unfinished work with others – that’s what I’m essentially concerned with: sharing knowledge without expecting anything in return. The support and use of social media and digital tools is super helpful, because you also learn in the group. At best, the group is very diverse: the more diverse the group, the more exciting the common learning effects and “a-ha!” moments are. We like to surround ourselves with people who tick like we do – that’s more pleasant and less friction is created. But it is precisely this friction, which arises through different experiences, perspectives, problem-solving strategies or cultural differences, that I find extremely important and valuable in the dynamic and complex working world of today – for individuals and for companies. The big added value of WOL for organizations lies in its grassroots character – it does not need a big change concept anymore, because the human being is the focus.
You are Customer Happiness Manager with us. To what extent does WOL play an important role for Tandemploy?
It seems to me much longer, but I’ve only been in the Customer Happiness Team for about three months. I quickly noticed how people work here: fairly transparent and collaborative. The WOL principle of making one’s own work visible is already a central element of Tandemploy’s everyday teamwork. For example, the numbers are displayed transparently to the whole team, and there is a recap from our Open Wednesday in the form of an internal newsletter, so everyone gets the results. There is generally a lot of work done to learn and share our knowledge. Working Out Loud is a consistent continuation of this culture; it fits the company and the product – because we sell software that does and represents exactly these things.
Thank you for the nice interview, Sara, and for the exciting insights into your experiences with WOL!