What I learnt from 1 year of “learning meetings”
One of the finest habits I started few years ago was listening to podcasts during the commuting time. Valuable resources with top-notch guests and amazing groundbreaking ideas. Entrepreneurship, marketing, sales and personal development, a plenty of outstanding free podcasts that could fill your day with good energy and feed your mind with correct fuel. Truth be told, podcasts are now accessible everywhere, anytime at any platform. We have no excuses.
As curious as I am, at one of these episodes (I honestly forgot which podcast it was), I caught for the first time the idea of “learning meetings”. A genius idea, with no doubts or hesitation I started implementing it in our routines with my Marcom team at Timsoft Group.
One year and +20 learning meetings later, I’m sharing with you the main takeaways and what I learnt from these team calls/meetings.
How has it started?
First thing first, I Googled this concept to see if it’s a well spread idea and if other teams around the globe are doing it. With no surprises, it was a type of meeting that is held in a lot of teams/companies. Thus, we scheduled a 30-minute biweekly and we kicked-it off.
The first ones were very basic as no one was used to it. Every one of us took 5 to 10 minutes to share in “bulk” some of the learning points from the past 15 days. Most of them where exclusively related to our core work: B2B marketing. Weather you discovered for the first time the Inbound marketing principles from a webinar you attended or a feature in the emailing marketing tool you found by chance after wrongly clicked on a tab. It was interesting to hear all of them in a short and concise meeting where we don’t necessarily talk about to-do-lists and pending tasks.
How it went?
As any other atomic habit, it needs consistency. Therefore, we kept on meeting every other Friday. What changed over time? Instead of sharing what came to mind. The team and I took few minutes before the meeting to structure our “learning ” and list few bullet points. We were more prepared, and we made sure to mention relevant topics. It was also an opportunity for me to share some thoughts on the personal and human level. What have I learnt from a stressful situation that other day? How am I managing my calendar? What are the best tools to weaken procrastination and boost productivity?
Straight away, the meeting became one of the most awaited team gathering of the month. It was a condensed yet huge amount ideas, tips & tricks, affirmations…etc. Most importantly, it was a safe space where we could talk openly about our vulnerabilities and weaknesses without being afraid of judgmental feedback. I am extremely proud of how it went.
What have I learnt?
Sharing “learning” is not obvious for everyone
As the team members come from different backgrounds and have different personalities. It was not obvious for all of us to start sharing what we learnt. It was something new and we are not used to dedicate a chunk of our working time to these “atypical” meetings. But as the French saying says, l’appétit vient en mangeant, the appetite comes with the eating. Meeting by meeting, everyone became very comfortable and open to sharing.
Learning without knowing
I remember in some of the meeting where one of us would say that she/he didn’t learn that much from the past two weeks. I personally believe that this can’t happen especially when you work in a vibrant ecosystem, in the digital transformation space, helping companies around the globe implement digital solutions to solve operational problems. In such situations, I usually ask one or two questions to push my colleague to think a bit deeper. They usually figure out that they learnt more than they thought without even noticing that.
People who learnt more than you are no better than you
One of the traps of these kind of meetings is that people might start comparing themselves with each other. Learning is not a competition. Especially when you don’t have the same job description. The Growth Marketing Manager is implementing a new marketing automation tool and discovering a lot of new concepts like Account-based marketing, lead nurturing and lead scoring while the Graphic Design Manager found a website that lists hundreds of animated icons. Comparing apples and oranges.
Keep asking yourself even outside the learning meetings
One of the patterns I observed after +20 meetings was that the team only reflects on the “learning” before or during the meetings. I think that the learning meeting is just one slot of time to share what we learnt but we should embrace the idea of taking a very short break and congratulate ourselves after learning something new. Again, it could be anything. The capital city of Latvia for instance (Riga) or the typical conversion rate from Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) in the software B2B field.
As known, lifelong learning is a state of mind. We live by it on a day-to-day basis. And this is what makes us grow as humans and evolve as professionals. From what seemed to be yet another meeting on our calendar, become a promise that I’m trying to keep and push the people around me to keep learning and learning and learning. My next challenge? Spread the word and empower other managers in my company to initiate a learning meeting.