Many have heard of the classical Greek philosopher Socrates. However, I would hazard a guess that only a small percentage of people could recall his most notable idea – the Socratic Method. Until recently, I fell into this group. Wikipedia defines the Socratic Method as “a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas”. This method of teaching helps an individual arrive at an answer while simultaneously developing their ability to work through the critical thinking process. At PwC, we refer to the Socratic Method as Enhanced Working Practices, or EWP for short.
Pulling from my experience as a New Associate at PwC, I sometimes found it easier for my Senior Associate to assign me a task and tell me exactly what needs to be done, rather than engage in EWP. EWP led to my senior putting me on the spot with questions such as “why do we do this?”, “what are the risks?”, “how would you approach this problem?”. Although it both intimidating and overwhelming at first, they were simply getting me to THINK through problems I had never seen before. Crazy right?
Looking back, I can confidently say that EWP has been critical to my professional development.
The program has trained me to critically think through new and challenging problems while confidently arriving at a solution. EWP also allowed me to master simpler tasks at a quicker pace than I otherwise would have; thereby, allowing me the opportunity to work on more challenging problems. The EWP program also encourages junior staff to shadow senior staff, including Partners, during client interactions they otherwise would not be exposed to.
In my most recent internal training course, everybody was asked to provide one sentence that reflects their sentiment towards the EWP program. Here are a few worth sharing:
“[EWP and coaching] allows one to take ownership of their work”
“Coaching reduces the learning curve of the staff”
“Coaching empowers my team”
The topic of professional development is an important one for anybody considering a career path. PwC
also shares this belief and puts a tremendous amount of resources towards the program. I believe this is one thing that distinguishes PwC and other firms.
Thanks for reading this week’s blog post. If you have any other questions, please tweet me: @mswong6.