February 7, 2022

How We Built Our Learning Culture

Marie Krebs

Practising what we preach

We care a lot about the personal development of our users. So naturally we also care a lot about our own wellbeing and development here at Learnerbly.

In case you didn’t know, a strong learning and development culture really impacts people’s engagement at work! Plus, it helps to attract and retain your talent. And as we’re a workplace development platform, it’s also a great chance to test and fine-tune our ideas on ourselves 🤓.

With that in mind, we re-launched our L&D initiatives last year. In this article, we’re going to cover the thinking that went into that, what we’ve learnt, and what we currently have in place. Our next piece will share some tips and learnings — but until then, here’s how we build our own learning culture at Learnerbly.

Our Values

Any company culture starts with values, which inform your rituals and encourage certain types of behaviour. Here are our own, to give you some context about what guides our work and behaviour each day:

Be your authentic self. For us, this means finding the intersection between what you love and what you’re good at so that you can be yourself at work.

Set the destination; own the journey. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Think big, speak up, take ownership. We believe in learning by experimenting and failing fast: use your creativity and resourcefulness to find solutions to problems you encounter.

Invite everyone to dance. “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.” We look for value fit, not culture fit. We believe by being diverse and inclusive we make better decisions.

Practise heartfelt, radical candor. We proactively seek and give feedback to accelerate the growth of our colleagues.

If you're interested in developing your self managed learning skills you can click here for our piece on heutagogy.

But how do these values actually influence our culture and rituals?

First, We Identify Blind Spots

Feedback gives you a new perspective and reveals where you need to develop in order to take your next step. It’s hard to figure out where you want to go if you don’t know where you stand!

At Learnerbly, we encourage feedback in a number of ways. We bake it into agendas, individual reflection, and encourage feedback upwards to avoid issues related to power. Our most important ritual is a twice-yearly 360 process to get in-depth written feedback from a variety of perspectives.

We also use Officevibe, which emails weekly surveys to our people. It gathers people’s opinion on a wide variety of topics anonymously. That gives people psychological safety to (hopefully) be honest, and lets us know how we’re doing in areas we wouldn’t think to ask about.

Then We Set the Destination

Having figured out what we need to improve, it’s time to shoot for the stars 🚀. With input from their managers, everybody builds their own Personal development plans using our recently launched goals feature. Our experience of settings PDPs and our research building that feature feed into one another, making our culture and our product better.

As you may have read 😁, PDPs should be the glue between goals, learning and career development. Done well, they help individuals and businesses grow alongside each other.

We Give People a Safe Space to Grow

It’s not possible to learn without making mistakes. Nor is learning a straightforward path. People need learning spaces in which they have the latitude to practice and make mistakes without getting into trouble.

For example, our CEO Raj shared both the positive and constructive feedback he’d received from the aforementioned 360 process during a company-wide meeting. It was a sign of trust, and his vulnerability helped reward and foster that trust. Ultimately, we’re creating a workplace where we all feel heard, and have the opportunity to authentically speak our minds.

It’s not possible to learn without making mistakes. Nor is learning a straightforward path. People need learning spaces in which they can make mistakes without getting into trouble.

On Learnerbly, everyone can choose to share their requests or make them private. Sometimes, you only feel comfortable to share the more personal aspects of your development in person, and that’s ok 🙂

We use CharlieHR (👋😍), and have customised it so that people can take learning leave — time away out of the office to attend conferences, workshops and more, which isn’t taken from your annual leave.

Or take our company Lunch and Learns (l&l)! Our CEO Raj and I recently attended NextJump’s Coaching Academy, so we delivered a l&l the week afterwards to share our takeaways. Beyond the lessons about culture, it gave me the chance to work on my presentation skills. It went pretty well, and I got feedback and tips from my colleague(s) afterwards.

L&ls are a great chance to practice, experiment and get feedback in a low-risk, safe environment. Feedback that helps you further identify and refine your blind spots ♼.

We Empower People to Get the Tools They Need

Now we know where to go and how to create an environment in which to grow, we still need the means to actually get there. Luckily, we work on this problem every day by curating the best learning resources for our users.

Learnerbly is central to developing our learning culture. Our product values are to empower, guide and support. Following our own advice, we give each employee a learning budget so they can use Learnerbly like any other user to request what they need.

‘I don’t know how to get better at this’, is one of the most common challenges in learning, and our concierge service and library of curated content works to directly address this problem by having the best online courses, articles, in-person workshops and more.

We’ve also built up an office library featuring our favourite books from the platform such as Radical Candor, The Lean Startup, and An Everyone Culture.

Everyone’s different and so learns differently, so similarly to the different different types of learning we have on the platform, we offer a variety of different on-the-job learning options including shadowing, mentoring and coaching.

We Ensure Our People Have the Energy to Learn

A healthy culture is a learning culture — and vice versa.

We encourage flexible and remote working, and make sure we have an authentic culture of wellness. That’s often about the little things — asking colleagues how they’re doing, making sure people take lunch breaks away from their desks when they can and have a walk round the block when they need some air.

We also offer health insurance coverage if things are more serious than a cup of tea can clear up.

We Celebrate Our Achievements Together

There’s no goal big or small that doesn’t deserve a 🎉 or a high five. Like learning, you need to drive engagement from the bottom up. Celebrating people’s achievements, making them visible, and making those celebrations fun are how you cement trust and reinforce the psychological safety that’s necessary to build a solid learning culture.

To help, we’ve built two internal slack integrations and a few Learnerbly features. The first lets us high-five each other and gives everybody a heads-up, while the second allows us to share what we’ve learnt in real time.

On the platform, we can recommend resources to our colleagues and see what people have requested as well as what resources are trending at the company. It makes small (and big) victories and learnings immediately visible to the rest of the team, and ensures we all feel part of the community even if some work remotely or from home.

There’s no goal big or small that doesn’t deserve a 🎉 or a high five.

We’re also experimenting with what we call The Bounty Challenge. Everyone gets a bingo card of things to do, such as attending meetups, shadowing (or being shadowed) or high-fiving. We get points for each of these actions, and we have a nice little leaderboard going.

Next Time…

In our next article we’ll share the lessons we learnt getting to this point. When we say it’s not possible to learn without making mistakes, we mean it. We’ll also give you a few tips to help you build your own Learning and Development Culture 🚀!

Don’t forget to share this post!

Continue reading