This time written in English, for my American WOL-friend Shalinni S. Batta.
@Jen Deneckere, one of my circle colleagues is starting up his second circle himself and having some questions about that, I think it’s the right moment to share my own experiences with the first week of the circle. I am in my 4th and 5th circle right now, which – I must admit – is really a bit over the top. Committed to accomplishing 2 goals is mentally heavy, come to think of it. There’s one advantage though: the 2 circles are in the same WOL-week, so preparation time is minimized.
But as far as the start is concerned, these are my experiences:
Circle 1 was a major adventure to me. It was the first time I was in outer space (I mean beyond my comfortable VDAB-zone) and I happened to be the only non-English native in this group. We were 5 circle members, facilitated by Nicola Waterworth, one of the 4 British ladies joining the circle
I was nervous, really. Reaching out to complete strangers, in a completely new format… it felt creepy. For everyone, it turned out. But we felt at ease within the first hour really, thanks to initiator Nicola Waterworth who already had some WOL-experience, fortunately. The other ones were completely new to the concept.
Unfortunately, the circle died after 3 weeks. Reasons?
- We started in June, just before the summer holidays.
- Members didn’t show up.
- Preparation time was nearly non-existent because of external factors.
- I mainly think we didn’t have goals which we really, really cared for. And this is essential for a WOL-success.
Circle 2 started a few months later, at the end of August with two consultants from Cologne and 3 Belgians. To make a beautifully long story short: this was a terrific experience. Why?
- We all had a reachable goal, which we really cared about.
- We prepared each week: sometimes more, sometimes less. In this respect the circle guides are handy: they provide both time-intensive AND very short exercises.
- Most of the 12 weeks everybody showed up and if not, members notified the other circle members.
After 12 weeks we had ample reason for celebration, which we did in Cologne. First an evaluation meeting at Detecom, which Maike Kueper organised for us, followed by a visit to the Christmas market. We have become loyal friends – helping each other out with questions and talks about work performance. Normally Frederik and I are organising a barbecue in summer… We do hope everyone can be there, also Geert Nijs and Sven Lakner.
In Circle 3 we used the very useful blogpost of Julia Weber about Week 0. It was a strong beginning, but we missed two circle members from the beginning. I still feel very sorry about that, actually. And our 4th member, Shalinni, who I dedicate this article to, lives in America, which proved to be another intricacy as far as the difference in time zones is concerned. So we had to quit the circle. Pia Seppelfricke and I were left on our own, somewhere in outer space, feeling sad.
In the meantime I was preparing a first circle with VDAB-colleagues. This started at the end of May, also with week 0. We’re in the sixth week now and I must say: we have strong goals, strong personalities and I enjoy the growth I notice in my colleagues and again in myself. Success factors?
- A beautiful openness from the beginning.
- Deep empathy for every colleague.
- Thorough preparation, dependent on the time we can spend.
- No. Judgement. At. All…
Pia and I kept in contact and decided to start a new circle at the end of May. Bull’s eye! Beautiful experience, already for 5 weeks. Learning a lot from each other! Looking forward to meeting each other at Zukunft Personal in Cologne on 11 September – where we will be meeting John Stepper – creator of Working Out Loud.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post. Let me know! And don’t worry about starting a circle. It will change your work performance, your career – and indeed, your life…