How do we take care of our self-development

We are very much dedicated to our self-development at Happy Team. Being a consultancy company means we care about learning and improving constantly. Therefore we dedicate our own time to such activities. But how do we do it?

Learning by doing

First of all, you learn when you do things. We are all doers at Happy Team. Working on a project gives us tons of opportunities to learn. Deadlines can be approaching, pressure can be really high but it doesn’t take away the responsibility to learn as much as we can while working on a project. It’s also pragmatic, it prevents us from making silly mistakes. Learning by doing means also not being afraid to try out things. We have many spikes in our projects, discovery is part of the process. This way we learn quite a lot during the assignment.

Pet projects

Every now and then some great idea comes to someone’s head and a new project is born. Not all ideas become projects as definitely there are more ideas anyone can develop and maintain. Regardless of everyone’s time limitations, pet projects are great source of fun and learning. They’re good to try out things, to have fun with new language or to change environment. It’s a good ingredient of self-development.

Deliberate practice

We have scheduled sessions in our calendars for a “deliberate practice” during which we simply solve interesting coding problems so that we keep “sharpening our saw”. We take our profession seriously and with much care, that’s why it’s important to set some time aside for such activities.

Deliberate practice has to stretch yourself outside your comfort zone. It has to be sometimes hard and painful to give you the best results. If it’s mixed with having fun coding - win-win!

5+ Programme

We have this idea to add small amount to the rate we’re paying ourselves. This year it’s 5 PLN for each hour we’ve spent working for the client. Over the year it compounds and allows us to go to a paid workshop, conference, buy books, online courses etc.

What did we do with the money so far:

  • some people are going to React+Redux workshop
  • I’m going to “IoT - build it yourself” workshop
  • eldhash bought some books and Red:4 videos on Elixir (and there’s a result from this already - a Slack bot elkarmo)
  • there’s few conferences I’d like to visit

Whenever we want to boost our skills and it requires money, we don’t have to think about it so much, we can use our 5+ budget for it!

There’s lot more ideas how to use this money already. Let’s wait for results!

Developer Day

Once in a while we organise Developer Day and spend it on learning totally new things which we don’t usually touch when doing work for the client. At the end of such day we share our knowledge with other members of the team. This way we can inspire each other and teach ourselves something new. Topics vary from Scala, code review tools, new javascript frameworks (yes!) to learning Swift. Whatever exciting we’ll find - we’ll touch it!

Brown Bag sessions

Every now and then on Wednesday one member of the team is sharing something learned recently in a short talk (30 minutes) during lunch time. It’s meant to be something small but what others can find beneficial and interesting. It doesn’t have to include years of research but only what the person stumbled upon and got to know more about. Either it’s a development practice, useful library or a tool - suits brown bag session perfectly!

Knowledge sharing is the king

Recurring theme of those self-development activities is sharing knowledge with others. Without this we wouldn’t learn as much as we do. It’s in the heart of everyone of us to learn, become more proficient in what we do and to share this with others.

Practicing is one of the most important aspects of keeping ourselves ready for the next challenge, whatever that’ll be. I wonder what else can we do to “sharpen our saws”, keep up to date and become better every day! If you have your own ideas, shout out at @happyteamio. We’ll be happy to share how you take care of your self-development!

Share the happiness :)
Michał Śliwoń
Michał Śliwoń
Michał is a passionate software developer touching everything from C# to Javascript frameworks, not afraid of F# and Objective-C. He loves meetups and conferences.