Professional Development

The ethos behind organised professional development is that we grow through learning, and we care about helping each other to grow and to flourish.

We carry a responsibility as an employer to ensure we create a container that supports each of us (and anyone who joins the team) to develop and grow our competency, capability and skills.

As a team, we're all at different learning stages and some of us have a deeper attachment and excitement for learning than others. Ultimately the responsibility for our careers and our learning lies with us as individuals and we all learn in different ways.

As a professional organisation in service of the movement, it's also our responsibility to build our competencies so that we remain useful and relevant to the shared needs of the working class in all its diversity.

How to make space for professional development in the co-op

If you'd like to spend some time learning a thing or two that's not directly required for the project you're on, that's fine! It's something we expect and have built in to our business model - so provided you're still hitting deadlines and being generally responsible, go for it!

  • Define a learning plan: your colleagues will be happy to discuss and review this in 1-on-1s and during peer feedback
  • Use your learning budget freely: if you'd like to learn something completely unrelated to your project (say designing some album covers or learning a new programming technique), we have a Learning Budget allocation for all employees — see below.
  • Propose specific training: If there's a specific training program an employee wishes to undertake, they should propose it separately to the co-op. The decision to fund only the time or both time and the workshop cost will be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Propose on-mission initiatives: If you'd like to learn or build something that will make your project more successful, like writing about open sourcing some part of your work, that's fine too! Even if it's more than 4 hours a week, given it's intertwined with the success of your project, it's acceptable. Please run it by a couple people to gut check the idea, and be responsible about shipping client work in time and on budget regardless.

Learning budget

As of 25 January 2024 (link to proposal), the co-op has approved a Learning Budget Policy to foster continuous learning and development among its permanent employees. The policy is designed to empower individuals to enhance their skills, contribute to their personal growth, and benefit the cooperative in the long run.

This policy applies to employees inside IR35.

3 hours per week of learning budget

All permanent employees of the co-op are entitled to a learning budget of 3 hours per week, following the successful implementation of the pilot program with Anna's learning budget.

Anna Cunane: shares insights into what has worked well for her, including focusing on weaknesses, learning projects beneficial to the co-op, and creating prototypes for feedback. (Comment on Twist)

Approved uses of your learning budget

Employees are encouraged to utilize their learning time for various purposes, including but not limited to:

  • Membership pathway training
  • Onboarding to new responsibility areas
  • Learning new technology and processes
  • Reading theory related to co-op work (self-organization, community organizing, political strategy, etc.)
  • Prototyping ideas not directly related to project work
  • Addressing potential areas for improvement identified in +Peer Feedback Sessions
  • Participating in training programs and workshops

Implementating your learning budget

  • Learning Log: Create a Twist thread for your Learning Log in the dedicated Learning Logs channel, where you can share weekly updates on what you're learning.
  • Progress Review: Every three months, invite at least two other people to a sync meeting to review your progress.
  • Time Tracking: Track your learning time against the "Learning Time" budget in Productive.
  • Calendar Blocking: Add a recurring event to your calendar to block out the designated learning time.
  • Feedback and Consenting Process: Employees are encouraged to provide clarifying questions or propose amendments within the Twist thread. Consent is achieved through responses within a specified timeframe.

Financial implications

  • The cost to the co-op is estimated at £595 per week / £2,380 per month (calculated based on 6 people x 3 hours x £33 per hour).

Learning plan

We are trying out sharing our self-determined professional development plans as a visible, active way to demonstrate our commitment to a culture where we value learning.

There are benefits to writing up and sharing our learning goals for the year:

  • It requires us to think about where we're at and notice where our energy is for active learning at this time (and if indeed we enjoy it....lots of people don't!)
  • It enables us to think about the different pathways to achieving our learning goal (some people thrive in classroom environments and need theory and context; others pair; others learn by figuring out for themselves etc)
  • Sharing our goals helps others to come up with approaches to helping us achieve our goals or even offer practical help to share skills
  • It helps us hold each other accountable for committing to our own goals, to help steward and support each other
  • Defined learning goals can be used to plan funding and resourcing plans. We can look for creative ways to access teachers/mentors/coaches, beyond internal funding which can be scarce at times. Approaches like this bring additional benefits as they expand our network of friends and supporters.

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