How to facilitate self-driven learning and development

Learning is a critical part of our culture at Inventium. As we operate under a Holacracy (i.e. self-managed teams) and our structure is very flat, progression is largely created through learning, mastery and pay, rather than promotion. Our approach to learning is also very self-driven. While our team gets lots of juicy challenges and learning opportunities through the way we set OKRAs (How to set awesome OKR(A)’s), we also support formal learning by allocating time, money and goal setting.

Aim

To foster a culture of self-driven learning and development.

Resources

Method

PART ONE – Setting learning goals

  1. Team members are all given the option to set learning goals as part of the OKRA setting cycle. Although OKRAs are inherently linked to pay and performance, learning goals are self-set, voluntary and do not need to be directly related to company goals.
  2. Use the following thought starters to guide how you set your learning goals:
    1. What areas of your current role require development?
    2. What skills/competencies will the company require moving forward? Where is there a gap in the team that you could fill? 
    3. Which unrealised strengths are you focusing on developing?
  3. For each goal (we recommend 1-2), answer the following:
    1. In the next 12 months, I want to….. (the objective: e.g. learn, achieve, master)
    2. I will know I have met this learning goal when….. (the key result)
    3. I will achieve this goal by engaging in the following learning-based activities….. (the activities).
  4. Discuss these goals with your manager and record your OKRAs (or equivalent) using the template. Check-in on progress whenever you have your performance reviews.

PART TWO – Allocating a learning budget

At Inventium, our learning budget is broken down into four categories: The individual budget, the team budget, the individual ‘big-mama’ budget and the book budget. 

  1. The individual budget is $500 per person per year. There is no approval required to access this fund. Employees are empowered to complete short courses, attend conferences or purchase memberships they feel will benefit their learning and development most. 
  2. We also allocate a team budget, which in our case is $10k per year. This budget is for a group of team members to undertake a particular development opportunity together. The CEO approves this. 
  3. Our individual ‘big mama’ budget is for individual learning pursuits that cost +$500, such as a university course. This is to help individuals with their current role or future progression goals. It is discussed with the CEO, and a claw-back clause may apply. 
  4. Finally, we have a book budget – being the avid readers we are – for business-related books. We added this when we become remote-first (i.e. gave up all our offices) and no longer had a physical and central Inventium library. We allow $200 per month across the team (of 11) for people to purchase books that directly relate to a current project. 

PART 3 – Giving time 

  1. Giving time for learning is often just as valuable as giving money to team members. We are lucky to have our ‘Gift of the Fifth’ (Four Day Week), where many team members use Fridays to follow learning pursuits. 
  2. We do, however, recommend considering a formal study leave policy. It could be fixed (e.g. two days per quarter), or flexible (e.g. a week over an exam period) depending on the activity being undertaken. 

Outcome

By setting a clear yet optional policy for Learning and Development (L&D), you can empower your team to extend their learning in a way that best suits them. In addition to setting goals and allocating time and money, the key to making your L&D policy truly self-driven is to ensure that it has lots of flexibility and the least amount of hurdles for someone to jump through. Uptake went up dramatically when we introduced the $500 ‘no questions asked’ budget.