How to Invest in Engineers' Growth 🎓
Real-world strategies, programs, and ideas, to enable continuous professional development at work.
Professional development for engineers has been a big interest of mine for a long time.
This dates back to the first years of my startup, around ~2012, when we had to hire our first engineers. The tech ecosystem in Rome is small-ish and it was hard for us to find devs who had any experience in our stack (Ruby on Rails).
So, since both myself and Disheng, one of my co-founders, were PhD students, we leveraged our University connections to create internships and hire people straight out of their Bachelors or Masters. Then, during their first months we would teach them everything about the tech.
Now, this use case was quite specific and born out of necessity but, in general, investing in the professional growth of engineers is a total no brainer for any tech company.
In fact, it brings benefits across the board:
💼 Hiring — it makes hiring easier, cheaper and faster, by lowering the bar of the experience you need to hire for.
🔄 Turnover — it reduces turnover, by creating growth opportunities for engineers.
🏃♂️ Productivity — it obviously increases productivity, by improving engineers’ skills.
It also turns out professional growth is what engineers value the most. A while back we ran a wide survey about engineering careers, and asked hundreds of managers and developers why they had changed jobs in the past. Growth is #1 👇
Still, creating a good process for this is hard. You can’t just slap an O’Reilly subscription on your team and call it a day.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about Skiller Whale, which is doing some great work in this space. That article was extremely well received and led to many follow up conversations, both via email and in the Refactoring community.
Many people asked questions and shared their experience creating internal programs, processes and workflows to enable upskilling in their teams. So I took all of that, interviewed even more people, and sat down to write this article.
This piece collects the best ideas from some of the smartest people I know, plus learnings from my experience, and insights backed by research.
Here is what we will cover:
🎓 Passive vs Interactive — ranking learning experiences by effectiveness.
⚖️ Exploratory vs targeted — the two goals of learning.
💼 Learning at work — real-world programs, tactics, and workflows to help your engineers grow.
🎁 Special deal for paid subscribers — for an upcoming Refactoring product for teams.
Let’s dive in 👇