Empowering pathways for learning

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How have you been supported in learning and growing by your org/community?

Question: what have people in your team, organization, or community done that helped you grow into who you are and doing what you're doing?

Initial example: being made aware (via a gentle call-out) of something I was doing that wasn't helpful for the group dynamic. Helped me become more mindful of similar situations.

Being generous with critical feedback and with your contacts.

Providing a challenge or growth opportunity, then stepping back while still observing and being available.

Also, asking me up front specifically how someone wants to step out of your comfort zone.


Establishing explicit mentorship relationships

  • Been going through a 9 month onboarding a co-op. I have both a supervisor and an assigned "buddy". In the 9 months, I get three feedback sessions with opportunities for giving evaluation to supervisor and "buddy".
  • Reverse mentorship - juniors helping seniors grow
  • What happens when your role is very individual, and you have no peers or seniors in your org in a good position to mentor you?
    • Example: the only "data person" at your org. I got connected with the data director at another org by being part of "Movement Cooperative", though that has a paid membership.
    • As a manager, if I can't be a mentor, I work to connect my reports with potential mentors, including looking outside the org when appropriate.
  • As a manager, may not have a lot of room for the role to expand! Can instead support them by helping them with "growing away."

Trial by fire?

Thoughts on trial by fire?

  • Trusting someone to handle something difficult/new/urgent helps them build confidence.
  • Q: What gave you a sense of safety, if anything?
    • A: It had to happen whether or not I felt safe!
  • Being under-resourced or over-relied on isn't great, though. Don't want to set someone up to fail.
  • Helpful to clarify:
    1. What would failure look like?
    2. Assurance that it won't cost someone their job, and that the team/supervisor/org has a Plan B to catch you if things don't work out.
  • Blameless retros/post-mortems
  • Regular check-ins with someone I trust
    • Made effective by knowing my ideas were taken seriously
  • Vulnerability with supervisor
    • Saying, "I'll give you a lot of notice if I plan to leave. Please give me a heads-up if there's something I can improve on." [in order to maintain a sense of safety]

Shared goals

Sharing our goals for personal growth as a group

  • Both staff and managers understand how they're each trying to grow
    • This requires some vulnerability, but that can also create trust/safety. It also enables more helpful feedback.
  • How do you keep these values in an ongoing way?
    • Revisit our values and goals via quarterly check-ins.
    • We establish our learning goals as actual project work! We create a ticket and categorize it as "ILO" for Individual Learning Objective. Everyone on the team has exactly one at a given time.
      • Not a punitive thing like a PIP! Your supervisor or team lead helps you establish a learning goal. Can be related to a team need, or your own personal interests. Can even be separate from team needs, e.g. learning about geospatial programming isn't relevant to my work as a sysadmin, but growing my interests makes my work feel sustainable.

Learning as culture

Learning as a culture thing - it's always happening. Coming from a community culture that prioritizes learning.

  • This raises the question of "Who feels safe enough to fail?", specifically when it comes to learning new things to tackle new projects. (See prior discussion from "trial by fire")
    • Privilege pays into comfort with failure or possibility of failure
  • "A union helped us build a sense of safety"
    • Collective power can support our collective aspirations
  • https://recurse.com is a pretty cool learning community! Free programming retreat; 6-12 weeks. Stipends available for living expenses for certain folks.