I just wanted to share something that we experimented with in our team that turned out to be really successful. In brief, we dedicate one day a fortnight to learning and personal development.
The team, particularly the engineers, had repeatedly shown interest in time set aside for learning and personal development. We tried to accommodate this with optional slots in the afternoon for learning, or giving people autonomy to take time in their schedule to learn.
However, what we observed is that frequently these time slots were not utilised. The primary reasons given were:
- The slots aren’t respected and meetings are put over them
- It can be uncomfortable taking that time when other people are working
- Because it is up to the individual, people often forget to take the time
We dedicate one day a week to learning and development1. For us, that is every second Monday.
The expectation is that the whole team will be learning, tinkering with personal projects or delving into something they find interesting. Where possible we will try to reduce internal meetings but people may have external meetings they still need to attend.
What if the team are really busy?
If there is immense deadline pressure, the team can take the decision to skip a learning day, but this should be a team decision. Where possible the team should aim for a “one for all, all for one” approach where the whole team takes the days. If people start working through it, it can undermine the time set aside leading to eventually no-one taking it.
We have been running the experiment for a few months now and the team have been really happy with it. Everyone is taking time to upskill and we are getting a better team of engineers out of it.
I borrowed the idea from where my wife works, where they call it a Jog Day. ↩︎