Growing by Learning – DIY

Dar Cohen

Dar Cohen

As an R&D operations team member, I am passionate about the connection between people, R&D and business needs. With 2.5 years of experience I lead processes to improve people’s performance in an ever-growing environment.

Dar Cohen | 29 Feb 2020 | Uncategorized

Tags: Culture, deep learning, Engineering Culture, mentorship

To facilitate flexibility and technological hype, you want to work with people who know how to learn.

This is much better than having someone who knows a specific programing language, because a person ‘ who knows how to learn’ can learn any new language!

This agility is crucial, because technology is always changing and learning is endless:

My story begins two and a half years ago in Taboola Engineering, where I arrived  with dozens of new employees. In fact, 50 percent of the developers were new (less than one year)! Taboola was growing, and with great growth comes a great need to learn.

My goal was to create learning programs, but along the way I realized that it was far beyond this – learning brings personal development, curiosity, doubt, and insights into the organization’s working methods.

The past years has been an exciting journey of many collaborations, trial and error, failures and successes. We learned a lot on the way, and today our training rooms are filled to capacity. You will even be able to find our VP R&D with an open notebook.

In this blogpost I will share insights we have learned that can help you grow your environment (and make people crazy about learning).

 

#1 – Expand the supply of knowledge

 

Let’s think about the knowledge market – the demand for knowledge is massive. We are all thirsty to expand our depth and areas of knowledge.

To meet this demand, the trick is to create a wide pool of internal “suppliers” that can provide the knowledge.

Meet your partners – engineers with one year’s experience

Engineers with one year in the company are looking for self development and growth.

They can be a great boost for the internal “suppliers”.

This is a win win situation – let me explain why: This great demand does not fall on the shoulders of the veterans only.

At the same time, it allows your engineers with one year’s experience, to deepen their knowledge, develop themselves and give additional value to the organization.

 

#2 – Water the flowers you want to grow

 

If you want to keep your pool of presenters motivated and passionate –  it is very important to recognize and support this group.

The first step is to share  those people’s wonderful contribution with the organization .

As a result, they will be able to receive recognition not only from you but from their manager and colleagues.

In the opening session of the learning program, I always show this slide:

This is also an opportunity to create a circle of giving and receiving – invite the newcomers to join the contributors group and be on this slide as well.

Secondly, support your content owners –  

  • Assign a mentor who will help them professionally with the material
  • Create workshops about how to convey a clear message and upscale presentation skills

This will help you improve the training and raise the motivation to belong to the group of presenters.

 

#3 – Data Matters  

 

Data collection? Why should you invest in it?  

Analytics give you valuable insights. They help you to improve your learning programs.

But even more importantly, they pinpoint weaknesses.

So learning can be valuable for the organization and contribute to its growth.  

Let me give you an example –

It popped up that people were not passionate to learn about certain technology, and we had to research for the reason why.

It may be an old technology, there may not be many developers who code it, and anyway, this is an interesting insight for the organization.  

Most important – communicate your findings to others so you can turn insights into action.

 

#4 – Build the learning brand

 

Make your audience realize that they can earn something beyond their daily role – they have the opportunity to develop themselves.

Let your audience feel that there is someone who is concerned about the accessibility of the right knowledge at the right time.

These are the emotions that your learning brand should convey.

One of the most exciting and fun outcomes will be that people and initiatives will reach out to you! You will feel like an excelerator for growth, entrepreneurship and innovation.

But how can you create a brand?

  • Think about a logo related to learning and add it to all of your communications

  • Take advantage of opportunities to present learning activities – toast, happy hour, slack channel…
  • Show results – people talk and spread the word, so, one success leads to many more
  • Make the learning programs prestigious – if you want to both learn or teach: you have to invest. For example, set prerequisites for workshops

 

Checklist

  1. Engineers with one year’s experience are looking for places to grow, they can expand the supply to meet the demand for knowledge.
  2. Recognizing and supporting the group of content owners is VERY important. This will drive motivation and energy for learning activities.
  3. Track your data and leverage organizational projects through your insights.
  4. Build the learning brand to create awareness of learning activities and to attract collaboration.

 

Up next

Today we are facing with challenges of an R&D that has grown greatly. In my upcoming blog post I will share from our experience – what you should keep in mind while you are growing.