What it is
I’m going to assume you’ve completed a few web projects. I want you to look back to your very first web project, or even try to imagine one of your first school projects, the type where you had to study in order to complete it. What does it look like in your mind? Would you change anything if you were to do it again, right now, starting from scratch?
You would most likely change different parts of the first project, perhaps even do it completely differently. That’s good because it shows you’ve learnt something since then. This shows that everyone is learning all the time, so what makes continuous learning any different?
Continuous learning is the ability to apply strategies which support improving your skills in a regular and ongoing process of learning and development. For instance, this may involve attending conferences, events, workshops or even just pair with a colleague or a mentor and go over tasks together.
Here at Amazee Labs, we actively encourage continuous learning and strive to share our knowledge not only internally but also externally as speakers to various conference events. Over half of the team has presented at a conference at least once in the past 2 years.
Why we strive to continuously learn
By investing in yourself and your team, you do not only benefit from enhancing the team’s knowledge through skill sharing, but you can also drive motivation towards a happier work environment. It's refreshing to learn something new, to achieve and surpass new goals and to continuously work and learn together in unison.
Earlier this year our colleagues at amazee.io set up a Raspberry Pi cluster as part of a learning experience, they now transport it to every conference they attend to help share and teach others about hosting with Docker.
Ways to ensure a good learning environment
- Encourage people to ask for help, for instance, if a task is unclear, by creating different channels dedicated to supporting, or dedicated to specific topics such as front-end development, to ensure it is as easy as possible for employees to ask for help.
- Employ observation as a means to help share knowledge, be that as just allowing a colleague to watch over another colleague or creating an environment in which you record work sessions allowing others to watch at a later date.
- Allow your team to experiment, let them try new ways to do things and allow them to explore alternative methods.
- Motivate your team to attend training programs or online seminars, put aside a budget for each employee to spend yearly for their own personal development.
Here at Amazee Labs, we run weekly meetings such as “DemoDays” in which we aim to share what we’ve been working on the past week but also to share how we’ve accomplished a difficult task or what we’ve learnt recently. We also have some more in-depth biweekly sessions focused on the frontend as well as backend development, and recently we’ve added an agile exchange session to help share our processes internally amongst the Amazee Group.
How to start within your company
Evaluate how do you and your colleagues spend your time. Do you spend 100% of your work time actively involved in project tasks? Are you willing to risk spending half a day per week on active education to improve yourself and your team?
Find out what you’re motivated by. Are you more motivated to learn about a very specific topic, are your peers more interested in learning about a specific framework or some new tool?
Go out and attend meetups in your area, and allow your employees time to prepare for presentation pitches, as well as time to prepare the presentations if they get accepted to present at conferences.