Are you developing your team(s) with shadowing or self-directed learning?

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CISO in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
I have an older team, so I try to get them to focus on whatever study will help them with their next task, or get them to think about their careers, which sometimes entails certification. But I'm finding that they want to self-learn and there are a lot more resources for people to do that. They prefer to do self-directed learning and then do the exam at the end, which is much cheaper for organizations than doing the training course before the certification.

On the other hand, younger people in the organization are contacting me because they want to shadow me for certain tasks. For example, they’ll shadow me for some of the policy, risk or compliance work that I'm doing in the security space. Then I might also get them to do the minutes of a meeting for certain things. Those folks are looking for more experiential learning on the job.
Chief Information Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Back at Sun Microsystems, we used to have shadow days. I may need to revive those at my current organization to get some excitement going. Our employees aren’t engaged when the learning structure is a one-way dump of information.
2 Replies
CISO in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees

In a previous organization, we also could do it with the executive team. It would only be a couple hours or a half day, but that was very eye-opening. The executive would set it up so that the time spent was appropriate in terms of what the person will be listening to and watching. But as an employee, it does make you think, "Wow, there's a lot that they are dealing with."

Chief Information Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

I remember one occasion when I told my team that we were getting a lot of complaints around something, and they said, "Well, we met all the requirements. Everything is working great." But I convinced them that we should just go upstairs to see how things are. When we sat down with one of the customer service representatives, we found out they were toggling between two screens, losing sessions, and copying and pasting login information from one screen to be able to log into the other. This had been going on for a while and all it took to solve the issue was sitting down with the affected users to figure out where the complaints were coming from. The tickets were not able to articulate the issue, so we were solving the wrong problem. It was so interesting to see the difference that made because they were able to come up with better ideas.

COO in Healthcare and Biotech, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
We allocate a set amount of training dollars for each team member for personal / professional development. We give guidance that it should be used to advance skills needed for their job, we do not require it to be for their CURRENT role. To that end, we do not police or put strict requirements in place. If someone in tech support wants to take Java development courses because they eventually want to move into engineering, we allow it.

In this way, self-directed learning allows our team members to guide their careers. (Hopefully with some direction from their managers as part of regular 1:1 discussions.)
Manager in Education, 501 - 1,000 employees
I work primarily with student employees, so mentorship is an important component of my approach to servant leadership.  But this doesn't mean helicopter management.  I have to walk a fine line to allow them, as learners, to develop the extremely important self-learning skills and habits that will support their future career success.  Being software developers, they will sink or swim by their abilities to search for, critically assess, and successfully digest information sources, so it's crucial that they are given the freedom to fail now, while the stakes are low.

However, I'm not simply throwing them into the deep end of the pool.  I take advantage of our team's daily standups to assess each student employee's progress and ensure that each one is gently nudged in the right direction.  I also rely a lot on senior team members to provide knowledge transfer and iterative goal-setting to junior peers.  Junior team members are made well aware that their senior peers are their first and best resources when scaling challenging learning curves, and as such juniors do a lot of shadowing of senior peers.

Every new feature request, bug, or compliance requirement is a fresh and engaging learning opportunity for my team members, and because we're university-based, the pressures and deadlines that plague "for-profit" teams are largely absent in our team.  We are, by literal definition, an institution of learning, so the processes and expectations of education are baked into our operating philosophy.
Senior Director in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Most of my team is single threaded. I utilize self directed learning, which at this point had been more than satisfactory- I have many individuals that love to learn on their own. 
Director of IT in Manufacturing, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
we develop our team with self-directed learning , its more low budget for develop it team
Director of IT in Healthcare and Biotech, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
I think it really has to be a mix. Not everyone learns the same, and not every topic can be taught the same. You have to learn your team and how things are best taught.
Chief Information Security Officer in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I feel Self-directed learning is a process where any individuals take primary charge of requirements, planning, continuing and evaluating their learning experiences. 

I feel this is one of the best way to upskill.
Director of IT in Manufacturing, 501 - 1,000 employees
My team does both. If a new technology\application is deployed that only one or a few of our team learn at first they will document and have the rest of the team shadow them as they learn support.  For technologies in general self-directed learning is applied.
Director, Strategic Security Initiatives in Software, 10,001+ employees
self-directed learning

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