Motivating employees to learn new tech

Had an interesting discussion yesterday regarding our help desk and enablement. Seems that the issue we are running into is that we have some great learning materials on our products etc but we have some gaps on maybe how our products interact with new tech (ie our products can talk to AWS and leverage things like Lambda, SNS, SQS, SSM, etc). We decided we can create content to help fill that gap but the conversation then went to HOW to make people do it. We know from past experience that just because we create the content doesn’t necessarily mean people will use it.

What methods do you think are more effective to encourage people to go out a learn new tech? Things we mentioned are:

Tying learning to you performance review
Some sort of reward system like a bonus or what not

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People tend to pay attention when it somehow affect their pockets, either via a bonus or a performance review, that’s for sure.

But in this particular scenario, I guess there is more behind it. Do these people know what Lambda, SNS, SQS, SSM, etc are? Do they know how AWS customers leverage these services already?

I guess a good way to incentivize learning here, is starting from the basics: to get to know theses services, just like AWS customers do. Then it’s only natural that they are curious on how your company solutions can connect to these services.

All employees would have access to AWS training materials. What I find is that, for example, you take a class for AWS Solutions Architect and in a job like this, only %20 of the course maybe is relevant? So the AWS info can be overload for someone that isn’t totally invested in getting an AWS certificate. And Cloud Practitioner is probably too low level although I can’t say that with authority. It’s also hard to know going through all that what may/may not be relevant to your job.

Employee may not also always know what AWS services that a customer might use in conjunction with our products. Some may be obvious, some not as much. We would hope to build practical examples, labs, that show you how a potential customer may use a service. It’s some thoughts we are kicking around at the moment.

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Here is my $.02 :blush:

  1. As a software Engineer I am deeply motivated to keep up with newer/cutting edge technologies. My motivation stems from a sincere love for elegant solutions. Additionally, I’m aware of the fact that keeping up with cutting edge tech brings me more value.

  2. Great leadership is also super important… I am extremely fortunate that my boss is a great leader. He knows how to compliment and encourage me when I need it, yet at the same time he keeps me on my feet enough to inspire me to always work harder. It’s difficult to maintain the balance that he does. His management really keeps me motivated to do better and better. This inevitably results in me learning new technology…

  3. This last scenario doesn’t really apply to me, but another factor is how much time is leftover at someone’s job once the minimum tasks are completed. After all, if someone is constantly working overtime but barely completing the normal scope of their work, it’s hard to imagine that they will ever be motivated to learn new technologies on their own (unless they see learning the tech as a path to a new role at another company :skull_and_crossbones: ).

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I think time is a big factor for a lot of folks. Some teams / companies explicitly build learning buffers into project timelines, others struggle to do so. As @Danny_B said, if someone is already struggling to get the work done, they won’t have energy to explore things unless there is an immediate payoff. I’ve definitely gone through cycles where this has been true, and I often work with teams where they need some support to create space and safety for learning.

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We came to this conclusion as well. It’s almost the “chicken or the egg” concept where we don’t have enough people to give the current staff time to study but we need them to study so they can handle their case load better. We can create all the learning materials in the world but if the staff is exhausted, it won’t matter.

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