September 1, 2018.
I've always preferred learning in private. Got something difficult? Sure, leave me alone for a few hours and I can probably figure it out. If you want be to figure it out with you watching, in that case I'm not even sure how to start. This is partly introversion, but altogether I'm pretty uncomfortable making mistakes in public. Like a lot of folks, my brain still helpfully reminds me of public errors I made decades ago, and they still bother me.
For a very long time, this discomfort prevented me from discovering one of the most rewarding elements of being in a supportive work environment: building a community of learning with your peers. This works especially well in a gelled "first team", and recently I've been spending more time facilitating a broader learning community of engineering managers.
When I first started facilitating the group, we focused on content-rich presentations. Each slide was dense with important lessons and essential details. It didn't work well. Folks weren't engaged. Attendance dropped. Learning was not the order of the day.
Since then, we've iterated on format and eventually stumbled on an approach that has worked consistently:
Topics that people already know about. Successful topics are ones that folks have already thought about, typically because they are core to their daily work. Ideally it's something that they do but would like to get better at, such as 1:1s, mentorship, coaching, or career development.
People find it very hard to discuss content they've just learned if it is too far away from their previous experience. It also creates an environment where learning has to come from the facilitator as opposed to from the group at large.
The thing I enjoy most about this format is that it gives folks what they really want, spending time learning from each other, and is remarkably quick to prepare for as a facilitator. I'm far from a seasoned facilitator, and I've also found this format to be a rewarding and safe opportunity for me to grow as a facilitator.
If your company doesn't have any learning communities, give it a try. I've found it one of the easiest, most rewarding things I've had the opportunity to work on.