Upskilling your team remotely. how to do L&d from afar w/ Susana De Sousa, Sr MGR of Support @ Loom

earning & Development is a core fundamental of successful teams and healthy cultures. But how can remote teams successfully up-skill thru L&D without sitting together in a classroom?



7/5/202132 min read

Here's the recap...In today's episode, we chatted with Susana de Sousa, the Sr Manager of Support @ Loom. We spoke about how L&D helped her up-skill while at Airbnb, and how it helped her grow from a first hire at Loom to building and leading a global Support team. We discussed how essential L&D is for company culture and employee success. Should L&D be focused on the hard skill of a current role or be more focused on what your team wants to learn. We shared some ideas on how to make remote learning more collaborative.

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ROI isn't just about 💰

Learning & Development is an investment in time and money. Normally success of that investment is calculated in its return in profit. However, with your L&D budget, it's possible only your employee will see, and that's not a bad thing. Your team's growth is your success criteria. The L&D they receive should help them do their job better, and depending on their career trajectory provide them the skills to take on more responsibility. This helps them become more successful. Outside of up-skilling a salesperson who now is able to sell more, you won't see a clear increase in results. There's also the possibility that another company will see that result. After learning how to be a leader or the skills of a different role their desired job may not be available with your company. You may not need another Product Manager or there may only be one VP of Engineering. So the skills and experience your employee has learned will be used to get that job elsewhere. As a leader, that should be an acceptable outcome. Because you want the best for them. While you may not see this individual result, it will build a much better culture. That better culture will bring in more talent and better future results.

L&D should focus on hard & soft skills

Too many companies focus their L&D on the hard skills of a current job. Making a good developer, great or a great support agent, into a rockstar support agent. That's great but too limited in focus. If an employee wants to grow into a leader, they should have access to learning & opportunities before growing into that role.

Next, if your team wants to learn something that may provide a value to the company one day, that's great too. Copywriting isn't what you think of as relevant to a customer support agent. However, they may become a better and more engaging writer. They can then write better quality responses in tickets. Improving the quality of support which increases your NPS and eventually your bottom line.

Finally, as the world goes remote those soft skills are as important as the had skills. How to create a healthy & ergonomic home office. How to disconnect from work. How to recreate habits to improve your mental health. So many more are as vital as learning to do the job better.

Your remote L&D program should be like a mixtape 📼

In the old days, you'd travel to a hotel or conference center for a 3-4 day training course. You'd spend an 8 hour day learning from a book and powerpoint presentations. Just like you did in school. Then the world was introduced to online learning amongst all the different vendors. Some offered self-paced masterclasses, while others a few hours of a speaker teaching a subject. Everyone learns differently, so your L&D offering should match that. Different formats, different ways to consume the learning, synchronous vs asynchronous, 1:1 vs 1:a few vs 1:many.

Scott: [00:00:00] Hey everybody. Thank you for tuning in to today's episode of Leading from Afar. As always, you have me, Scott, with my cohost Tevi leading the show. Today, we are digging into learning and development within a remote environment. And today we're very happy to be joined by a good friend of mine, Susana De Sousa, who is the Senior Manager of Support at Loom. Which probably needs little to no introduction, but we'll get there a little bit later.

Susana and I have spoken many times over the past few years. I have been so happy to see the growth and climb within Loom. And I think it's going to give a very interesting perspective and story around the topic of learning and development today and around your personal career growth.

So usually the way we start Susana, please give a little bit more insight into yourself, a little bit Loom and your career so far.

Susana: [00:00:50] Yeah, absolutely. Hello. Thank you so much for the invite, Scott and Tevi. I'm very happy to be here. So my name is Susana I'm based in Lisbon, Portugal. And I'm currently the Senior Manager of Support at Loom. What is Loom you might ask? Basically, Loom is video messaging for work.

It's that simple. So you can record your screen as well as your voice and your face in order to create videos that you can then just immediately share with your team and customers. In 2017, I was the first Support hire at Loom, and now we have a team of 15 really amazing people supporting our 13 million users worldwide.

So it's been a very exciting ride over the past four years. Our focus today is to create a support experience that is not just efficient, but also educational and human. That is both at scale with our free users and also individually with our Enterprise customers. So that's a little bit about myself.

Thank you so much for having me.

Tevi: [00:01:55] Thank you for joining us, Susana. Nice to meet you. To dive right in, can you tell us a bit about why you think learning and development is so important?

Susana: [00:02:06] Yeah. I even more than important, I'd say it's just critical, right? I feel like we're just getting started with Support at Loom. I look at learning and development not just an opportunity, but even as a lever for us to one continue expanding our team and providing them with the tools that they need. Not just if they don't know or if they don't have access to information that typically just creates doubt and fear. And we don't want that to happen ever to anyone on the team. Then secondly, to empower them. So to develop their skills. To create opportunities for their development. This helps people on my team stay motivated, stay engaged, and ultimately also retain them, which is the goal.

I typically say that the team's success is my success. My ultimate goal here is to help people grow in their careers, whether that is within Loom and into bigger roles or even externally if they decide to. As long as I'm helping the people that I work with. That's the goal and learning and development are just a huge lever for that. Without it, we're not going to be able to grow their careers and even to be fully transparent here there's just a ton more that I can be doing for my teams, L&D. There's going to be a big part of the roadmap for the second half of the year. So this conversation is very timely.

Scott: [00:03:32] Awesome. So again, we've known each other for a few years. When we first connected, I think you were the first support hire at Loom who was managing support yourself. Thankfully as Loom grew and the team grew as well you've grown and risen through the ranks. Going from an IC role into a leadership role and continue to grow. With that growth comes the requirement for your own learning development and for your own up-skilling.

We'd love to know a little bit more about that kind of growth yourself and what you've done and what you've focused on learning? And as well, what you're doing with your team as a leader to help your team's growth in learning development?

Susana: [00:04:16] Yeah that's a great question. I guess maybe a little bit of context too. I was really fortunate to be part of the very strong L&D program during my time at Airbnb, I honestly lost count of how many workshops, trainings, programs that I was invited in and able to attend really. From personal leadership programs to mindfulness workshops. I think that we basically covered it all. The trainers were absolutely world-class too. In fact just the other day I was catching up with one of them because I'm hoping to share his own L&D program with my team at Loom. We were talking and it turns out that we had been together seven and a half years ago.

So he had delivered that PLP training to me the personal leadership program. And just realized that I still very much use it and refer back to the learnings that he shared in his program. That's really the mark of an amazing L&D program. Like it sticks with you. I've been so lucky to have received such amazing and stellar training and everything that I've learned Airbnb has shaped me professionally, but also personally. And there's a lot of overlap there. Eventually, when I landed at Loom where there were no L&D programs, we were six people at the time. Our learning and our development was to basically get Loom out to as many people as possible to keep them engaged, to learn from them. Literally, L&D was our job.

It was everything that we were doing, but even from those early days, L&D was just always a focus for us. Even if we didn't have that big of a budget, so we had to get creative. We had book clubs. We did a few courses together. We built, I think, above all, we built a culture of research and sharing insights. I just learned so much about management, user research, marketing.

And eventually, when we grew the team, we raised some funds. We created an official L&D budget. I started using that budget for I paid for a financial analysis course in a great university. I signed up for Masterclass. Masterclass will be something that I used to do with my team.

We'd watch Masterclasses about topics of interest, and then those insights in our 1:1s. Which was really an interesting exercise that we did together. Just looking back at my career, L&D has just been really, present. Obviously at Airbnb a more structured company with proper departments, proper initiatives, but even in my last four years at Loom in like an undercover way.

But with the team just growing and reaching 150 people now, we're currently expanding our people focus teams. We're going to be dedicating a ton more resources to bring L&D into the spotlight really, and just bedding strongly in our team's development. I'm sorry. I went into a bit of a ramble there, but did that answer the question?

Tevi: [00:07:31] Yeah, So basically the learning and development that you were given is what has allowed you to become a leader at Loom and they enabled that for you.

Susana: [00:07:43] Yeah, absolutely. Without a doubt. As I mentioned, I was really fortunate to go through training led by Brian Chesky's coach. Or someone who right now is training PayPal and Lego, and other huge companies. Just all of that knowledge, all of that experience just absolutely shaped the way that I am as a professional, but also personally I tend to leadership concepts. You use them in your day-to-day.

You listen to people you help them. For me, that's been such a life-changing opportunity and I'm super stoked and grateful that I was able to have that experience. Yeah. I hope to also bring it to Loom,. Double down on it and really help the team grow, develop, and just really find more about themselves. Become more self-aware. Know what they need to improve, but also know that what they're really good at, so they can double down on that.

Tevi: [00:08:43] Since we're a podcast about remote leadership and remote companies, how is learning development different in a remote environment?

Susana: [00:08:51] Yeah, I love this question because, and maybe this is like a controversial opinion, but at the end of the day, like not much. The goal I think is to grow and develop your skills and you can do that anywhere, right? So you can be sitting in an office, you can be at home. The most important thing I believe is access. When you're working remotely, access to something that may not come as easily. So companies need to make an effort to mitigate that as much as possible. Individual learning and development should always be happening. Whether that is by having impactful conversations with your manager or just looking out for yourself. Looking for your own opportunities should always be happening.

Maybe sign up for Lynda or whatever it is. You are investing in yourself and then your company can also create these opportunities for you too. As well as your manager. You should definitely be having conversations about your career, your development, all of that stuff.

If anything, last year just taught us that whatever can be done in the office can also be done working from home. And it's all a balance. I'm not saying that remote is always better. Both options a hundred percent have their own compromises. I'm a fan of working remotely. I love the hybrid model. I think combining the best of both worlds is just the best, to be honest. So should L&D be any different in a remote work workplace? Really? I think as long as the end goal is the same, the way to get to it, may be a little bit different, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

I'd encourage leaders and companies to invest in L&D programs that may be more appropriate for remote employees potentially. Even direct some of those programs towards remote collaboration. How to have virtual meetings, how to lead remote teams, how to build your presence online. Maybe even how to create your remote setup so that you're more productive and comfortable working from home.

There's a lot that can be done. There's a lot of opportunities here I think. Question for you two. How have other leaders in the space shared their thoughts here? Do they agree with you?

Tevi: [00:11:10] I'll let you go first, Scott.

Scott: [00:11:14] Sure. Outside of the debate, which will potentially have you back for another episode about the hybrid model, which is one of my favorites. The opportunities are definitely there. And I think it's having companies understanding just like remote work, you need the right tools. You need to enable people. You need to give people the right time and collaborate on it and be focused on giving them access to learning what they want to learn. It could be different aspects.

It's giving people that understanding and that knowledge. That's really the basis of this podcast. And why Tevi and I started it. Most people who are now leading teams remotely for the past year have no experience in doing it. They don't understand the right way to do it.

Tevi and I both saw that opportunity. This was going to be the key. That experienced the knowledge, the tools, and how to do it remotely. And just being able to share our experience. Having great people on the show like you that have been working remotely for so long and just being able to share an experience. Here's what I've done with my team. Here are the things that have worked. Here are the tools that work. To be able to give people access to that. Because again, everyone that's going to be remote needs that up-skilling. Even when you're remote for a while, you still need to up-skill. So I definitely like that idea of that you've mentioned is just whatever is going to benefit them the most. Whether it's up-skilling, whether it's creating new habits, whether it's how to do their job better, whether it's learning a new talent or skill. Get that out there. And that's definitely things that I've heard and that I try to push with leaders and with companies that I work with.

Tevi: [00:13:12] Yeah, I totally agree. And the only thing I would add is that I think that remote learning and development is probably very much the same. Even in the tools that are used. Whether you're getting books out or you're signing up for some online course. I guess very rarely, I think some companies are able to offer a live presentation.

That's pretty cool. If you get that opportunity, so maybe now it would just be a webinar or something on Zoom. Otherwise, I agree that there's not much difference, but there is I think a need to learn to communicate and manage and lead in a remote environment. So I think if you're going to be a remote company, those are things that you should be actively making sure your team learns about.

Susana: [00:13:57] Absolutely. When we're hiring Tevi, we were always looking for those soft skills. We're hiring remotely, so it's will this person be successful in a remote capacity? Will they know how to communicate? Will they be adjusting their tone? And do they have the empathy to understand that sometimes people don't always? They're not always at their best online stuff like that. So I 100% agree with you and companies need to train their employees. They need to train their leadership. In just how to best communicate in a remote world. We're moving towards hybrid just everywhere. It's just going to be so critical.

Scott, you mentioned creating habits. That's actually so funny. I was having this conversation the other day and with the time that we are now getting back from our commutes, right? We're not spending five hours a week, sometimes ten, whatever it is commuting, but what are people spending that time on?

Sometimes people don't know where does that time go? They don't know, but they could be as you said, learning a new skill, creating new habits. And it's so interesting to think about that about how we can take that time and really apply it to ourselves. To upskill ourselves into, to just continue to learn and be happy, really.

So that was a tidbit of information that you shared there that I find super interesting.

Scott: [00:15:27] I think it was today, there was a post either, maybe in Harvard Business or one of those magazines. That kind of put that idea of people need the commute back. The commute was actually good. Anything that talks about the office I'll always argue with.

I spoke to someone on one of these tools. I use to pair with people. He's living in the east end of London and a one and a half bedroom or one and a half room apartment with no garden, no balcony. He's felt over the last year like the walls were closing in and he felt like I'm looking forward to going back to the commute.

I'm looking forward to having half an hour to read a book, to listen to something. To listen to a podcast or whatever it may be and just having that time outside. And I said, okay, "I'm going to check back in with you in a month and I can guarantee you're gonna hate that commute." But it's just taking that concept of, okay, you spend half an hour reading a book on a bus or train. You could just listen to an audiobook while you take half an hour walk or listen to a podcast. You have the ability to do the same things and get the same opportunities, but just without the commute. In theory, again, you're walking to a coworking space every day. So you're walking for 15 minutes. So you're commuting and you're listening to an audiobook. So you're reading your book.

It's just changing the mindset because of the lockdowns, nobody was able to leave the house. So everyone was stuck. You couldn't leave the house. And then people would just wake up. I started working. I work all day on and off. Kids are in the house. They're not in the house. And then I just to go to sleep. Rinse and repeat. As we move forward, is that necessary to say, okay, "How do we do this in a better fashion? Is it literally just walking outside? Walking around the block." Just for that mental, I'm walking out of my house and I'm walking in the door to my office.

Just little changes to be able to mimic that experience of going to an office or just to be able to have those habits that break up the day. Or give you that opportunity that you were just not sitting there staring at the computer screen all day long.

I'm going to dive into the next question. Your thoughts of what some of the benefits and drawbacks of doing L&D remotely versus in the past of everyone being in a conference center or something like that?

Susana: [00:17:33] Yeah, absolutely. I think that's it would really depend on the type of L&D initiative. I think that having online training can be really beneficial starting with just the access piece that I talked about before. But also knowing that the learners they're in control of their own progress. We have to realize that not everyone processes and retains information at the same speed, or even in the same way. Having variety it's super important here. I think it's important to be flexible to adjust the L&D initiatives according to the business and to the people's needs.

But to give you a specific example of what I'm going through right now, I mentioned that I'm looking for some leadership workshops for my team. And the reason for it is just they're always good to have, but specifically, I just promoted three people in April to lead roles and that's amazing. I'm super happy with it, but I would also love to have a couple of days where we just all get together. We share experiences and we learn from each other. We align the vision. What we consider to be like leading Support at Loom, all that stuff. But there's a couple of drawbacks, right? So it's not always easy to pull people away from their daily duties. Especially if it's all the support leaders. And then we also have the issue of the time zones. Literally like nine hours difference. So then I'm like, "Okay, could we get together for a couple of hours for an entire week, every single day? Will that be impactful?"

The solution I'm honestly still working on it. I think it's going to be probably a combination of both remote smaller sessions and in-person workshops. For example, remote shorter workshops where we would just dive into a topic. Learn together for a couple of hours. It's the evening here in Europe, it's the morning in San Francisco. Then hopefully, one day we schedule an in-person session during a support team offsite or something along those lines. And then we can completely focus on, just being together for an entire day or two. So I think there are both options.

I don't want to wait a couple of months. Everyone is vaccinated. We can travel again. Like we get together. That's really I think like the blue sky scenario for me. Because it's just a more immersive experience, but I also don't want to take the merit of, until we do that. That's probably going to be rarer than we would like. Just based on we're a distributed team and we're working remotely, so should we always be waiting for that opportunity? No, we need to take advantage. We're remote. We can do these things asynchronously. We can leverage a ton of tools. The learnings are going to be the same. It's just the human element of it. That is going to be different. But at this point in time, we can almost replicate that. With our setups and with the tools that we use.

Actually, Scott, I'm really curious about what you used to do at InVision. So maybe I can take some inspiration from it's to solve this problem for myself.

Scott: [00:20:52] Sure. Maybe if you don't mind, I like to actually bring in something else and it's going to in Tevi. From the experience, we are somewhat neighbors. Our boys go to the same school and when we had the lockdowns, the school went from obviously learning in the classroom to learning via Zoom. And for our younger ones, it was four or five hours of Zoom and for the older ones, it was maybe 6, 7, 8 hours. At least for my kids, it was very difficult for them to be able to sit there for that long. I remember Tevi had mentioned, Tevi, please go into the details about this. I think it was with your daughter. That they used more of a kind of a combination of different things.

In some classes where the teacher or in the case of L&D as an instructor is sitting there giving a live lecture to people in the class. Then there was broken up the students within smaller groups to learn amongst each other, a specific topic. Doing some kind of workshop, doing some kind of exercises. And then you had a mix of more async. So the teacher would record a lecture on something, and the kids could then watch it at their own time. And from what you said, it seems that this would be potentially a very helpful idea. Mixing different times. Some people can get together, you can't get together. You don't want to take multiple people off the same opportunity. Having that chance of mixing different things. Today going to be an asynchronous teacher-to-student type thing. Another, one's going to be groups of maybe one or two people doing the workshop going through scenarios. Other times it's async of you or somebody else creating content that's then shared offline.

Tevi can you give more insight into that?

Tevi: [00:22:25] Yeah, that was basically it. For context, my daughter's in third grade and I was very impressed how they did that because they basically had two hours of live Zoom per day, maybe three. Then they would augment it with these async videos or even interactive games or something and actual homework.

It was like full synchronous, live Zoom, smaller groups with a few friends working on a specific project, and then totally async activities and videos. Which I thought really helped make it more or palatable. I think it's a great application to the regular learning development of the company. That's probably a great idea. Where it doesn't have to be like full all day for three days where it's like fully synchronous, maybe breaking it up. That would be a really interesting way to proceed with it.

Susana: [00:23:15] Totally I a hundred percent agree. I think that you mentioned is just like the absolute best blue sky scenario in terms of marrying both options. We'll definitely explore that at Loom and I'll report back on how it goes.

Scott: [00:23:31] Yeah, to the kind of quick InVision piece while I was there. I think it was probably very early on in trying to get L&D off the ground. They tried a couple of different iterations. A lot of it was online tools like Lynda or LinkedIn learning, Treehouse. Different opportunities like that.

You could get no an hour or half an hour of learning time a day or however many weeks with your manager to give you the approval. But there wasn't really anything on the soft skills of how to work remotely, how to have a proper ergonomic setup, and things like that.

I think the biggest thing, and just probably will grow a question out of it is around giving opportunities for people to learn soft skills or just specific hard skills around their job or their interests. While I was at InVision it was really just hard skills around your specific job was the focus.

Susana: [00:24:25] That's super interesting. I, a hundred percent hear it. And I think managers, leaders, should definitely figure out the right balance between skills-based training and leadership training. So hard and soft skills. You definitely want to make sure that you're helping the team grow in a way that is just not specific or not only specific to their current role, but also to help them to set them up for success in future roles. You want them to grow and expand. I think that's super interesting. What you just said, Scott.

Tevi: [00:24:59] Yeah, I was going to ask basically straight up. So what do you think is the right way to structure learning and development? Balancing all of that? Career. Job skills, soft skills, personal pursuits.

Susana: [00:25:12] Yeah. There's a ton of here but I would say like start with clarity. Jacqueline on my team typically quotes Brene Browns and she reminds us all that clear is kind. Meaning that we should always aim to set the right expectations and just communicate clear. And that's where the collaboration really starts. It's an effort between all the parties involved.

Similarly, I think L&D programs should just be structured based on just the individual and the collective goals. And by that, there's going to be business and team goals that they will just inform how we would like to continue developing our teammates and grow their skills, but also each person on the team should be able to inform that conversation. So talking about what energizes someone, what makes them happy? How would they like to expand their skillsets? What they would like to be doing in five years’ time. The cliche question but also understanding their belief systems and just aligning them with the company values.

From a business perspective, one of the very first steps is just going to be to identify the training needs and then setting those objectives. And with that, you're able to establish a baseline. For your return of investment, right? So you can ask yourself how will this training help and prepare my team to do X, Y, or Z.

Then you can then measure that in the future. I think that there's a ton to be said about L&D structures. I don't have all of the answers or know if these answers are any good, but just like back to my initial approach. I think it's all about communicating. It's all about listening and then just aligning on a path forward together and building it together. There's no point in me as a manager going team and be like, "We're going to develop the skills and I'm going to prepare you for these roles" if they're not interested or passionate about those things.

So there needs to be a huge alignment there, and I need to know what motivates them, what energizes them. But also what doesn't. So what did they like dread at work? What do they wake up and they're like, "Oh, I really don't want to like do that today?: So I can hyper-focus them on the things that they do super well and fast and in the best way possible. And they can just continuously grow and be better at it. And I can find a way to create more efficiency with the ones where maybe they're not as productive with them and they don't spark joy in, in that sense.

Tevi: [00:28:00] Do you think there has to be a clear ROI on the training that they're getting, or can it be like more of a personal pursuit that might be loosely or not at all related to work? But as you mentioned, it helps motivate them and helps them focus.

Susana: [00:28:14] Yeah, I think it's a balance. Really, I think it's from a business perspective, people always want to see the ROI. The business is paying for that development. They're investing the time, they're creating the opportunity. So they want to see that ROI. And then from an individual perspective and from a manager perspective, just knowing that the people on my team are growing and they're happy with the information that they're accessing and that's creating more opportunities for them.

Then I think that's amazing too, obviously. But it's just really balancing both and making it a valid initiative to invest in because then that ROI is just going to be reflected in our approach with customers. If we have happy team members that are willing to just go to bat for their teammates and for the company, then they're going to be delivering service. They're also going to be implementing those skills with documentation and improving the product and just thinking critically and creating liberally. Which is one of our support values. We encourage people to go learn and then apply what they learned in Support.

How can we get better? So it's really like the cycle, right? You have to invest, but then you also hopefully reap some benefits.

Scott: [00:29:32] I like to add on to what you just said. I think companies need to look at it on two streams. The first is how can they learn? Give added value to their current role or their track or on the other side. And how could it potentially give value to the company as a whole? And I'll try to give examples.

The first was someone on my support team who wanted to take a course on copywriting. So if you think Support, copywriting is a marketing thing. Nothing to do with Support. From a role value, there's zero potential value there. But if you try to take a step. In theory, if you learn how to write copy better and how to be a better writer, that means that you could potentially write more engaging and better quality support tickets. Which leads to happier users. Which leads to more revenue, so on and so forth.

Or you can have a product person that wants to learn to code. And now has the opportunity when they have an idea, they can throw a quick prototype together and just to test something out, maybe internally. It doesn't have to necessarily be helpful for them in that specific role, but it gives a grander value. On the other side, Tevi and I had spoken about it in a few episodes previously is about the third track that companies have in growth or employees having growth.

So you're a support person. Nobody knows the product ins and outs, how people are using it, what they like, what they don't like better than the support person. And then maybe after sitting in support for two years someone says, "I know everything there is to know about the product and where we should be going. Now I'd like to actually get involved in building the product and to be able to develop it. Now how do companies and leaders in a Support team and a Product team give them that training? Give them an experience because if they tried to apply for that job on their own, what are they gonna get? "Oh, you don't have any experience as a product manager. Sorry. It's not going to work."

But if you're able to enable them and give them the training, the exercises, the projects in collaboration with the product team to get them to that road. Then in six months or a year, when the open role comes up, if they want to take it, go take it. That's fantastic. We're happy for you to succeed. And if you want to stay within Support okay. Maybe you have more understanding of how the product works and the priorities and how that influences support. But I think it's really looking at the tracks of, okay, what can really give you a potential future value in that specific role or track, or what helps you move over to another track?

Susana: [00:31:53] I absolutely agree with that, Scott. I call it the Loom resume. So typically I say let's build your Loom resume. So you're going to be in Support for the foreseeable future. It doesn't mean that this is like where you are for the next five years. So if there's anything else that you'd like to do, let's build that resume. Let's add those projects, those tasks, those partnerships to it. So that when there's an opening or a new job that comes up, you can confidently say, "Hey, I should get this job because I have done X, Y, and Z that qualify me for it." Yeah. I'm super aligned with you on that, Scott. I think we're not here to be gatekeepers. Obviously, if someone is on our team I'll do whatever I can to make sure that they're successful. They're happy and engaged, but if there's ever a time where they're like, "Hey Susana, I need to move on and go somewhere else." I'll support them in all of those decisions because all we should be caring about is that they are successful so that we can be successful too.

I love this topic. This is a great conversation.

Scott: [00:32:56] Yeah, leaders scratch out the word managers. Go onto the next question. What tools does Loom use to enable your team to learn remotely?

Susana: [00:33:07] Yeah. Sadly, we just haven't landed on a specific tool yet sadly or not sadly, honestly. Because it's really early. We've done workshops, we've done courses. Just using a variety of tools, but I can tell you that we just have an internal knowledge base nowadays, that's hosted by Guru.

We typically use Notion a ton to host our documentation. And of course, we watch and we record tons of videos with Loom. In fact, Loom has actually been a really interesting method for us to share just knowledge and document insights for the team. It's very asynchronous. So it's been extremely useful for us to get the team on the same page. No matter where we are in the entire world's time zones and all. But as far as landing on a specific tool, we haven't yet. I think that'll come the second half of this year, hopefully.

I was going to ask, do you have any tools that you recommend actually?

Tevi: [00:34:11] Nothing specific on my end. I'm more in favor of like personal mentorship and bookclub type learning and development. A lot of people, I know, like the masterclass style thing. Where you go through a track and complete the videos. But nothing specific that really wowed me or that I love, I think I've tried five or six different.

Scott: [00:34:35] I agree with that. Most of the ones that I've tried, I've not been a fan of. I'm much more of a hands-on type of learner. If I'm trying to learn leadership or now as you've promoted those people to a team lead. Working more hands-on together and doing it versus saying, "Okay, here's a course, take a LinkedIn learning course on how to be a team lead." Versus really sitting with them and going through. "Okay. What are you thinking about this? When you run the next meeting how are you going to organize the documents? Don't do synchronous meetings, but just in theory know what's the right question. What questions are you planning to ask on your one-on-ones?" And having more of that one-on-one type of mentorship learning, which I think gives you a lot more value than any of the online courses that I've come across too.

Tevi: [00:35:17] Do you track learning and development in any way or is it more casual and no pressure?.

Susana: [00:35:23] Yeah it's, definitely on the more casual side. I think that there's a lot more that I could be doing here, to be honest. The plan is to continue developing OKRs. Tracking personal goals for each of my direct reports. So that we can establish an LME program together later on. I think we're still, as I said, a couple of quarters away from having a dedicated solution in place.

But honestly, this is our time to experiment and see what works for us and what we don't want. So when it comes to tracking nothing too official. It's talking about it, one-on-one, having those impactful conversations. So I think the most important thing here is that there is just openness to trying new things and just spending time together, learning, sharing those experiences, and aligning for sure.

Scott: [00:36:10] Awesome. I think the last question that I have. If you have some ideas to share with leaders on how to make L&D more collaborative with a remote team? In theory of not just sitting there, individual behind the screen watching a masterclass all by themselves and having no collaboration with others. Any thoughts of things that teams can do to make it a little bit more collaborative amongst the team?

Susana: [00:36:34] Yeah, absolutely so many ways. I think it all starts with values, right? So going back to the beginning of my time at Loom, I was just really impressed by how transparent the leadership team was. I believe that like really set us up to create an open culture of learning and developing or developments in this case.

That has been a huge driver for me over the past four years. To just continue learning and continue up-skilling. So it was really interesting because I was reporting to Shahid one of the founders in the beginning. We used to just create lists of personal and professional goals. And then we used to have accountability buddies. For example, if one of my personal goals was to read a leadership book or run a 5k or whatever it was. My accountability buddy was Lauren on my team. She just basically checked in with me. Talk about progress, keep each other accountable.

Because one of Loom's core values is to grow through empathy. Meaning that we focus on our personal growth. We are each other's cheerleaders, right? So discussing these personal goals with colleagues just helps build vulnerability and trust. Which is I think where most of the personal growth happens.

Honestly, the way we approach L&D at Loom has been so ingrained in our culture that I think it just sets us up to have that type of openness. Another example of that, it wasn't prompted and it just kinda appeared out of nothing. Recently Quinn on my team, he started a chain mail in Slack called something that I've learned and something that I like.

Honestly, I hope I'm not butchering it. Sorry, Quinn, if you're listening to this at some point. But essentially it was just a list of things, and it just promotes a collaborative mindset on the team. I love this type of initiative where essentially we're just like surfacing knowledge and then creating opportunities for improvements. Quinn was saying, "Hey team, this week, I learned that this happened. There's an opportunity for me to improve here. And I really liked this thing here." And he was sharing it with the team and then people were building on it, which was really interesting. Having said that there's just a ton that we could be doing. We'll get there.

I think we need time. From a leadership level, we have just recently hired a Director of Customer Experience, Jonathan. I'm just really looking forward to working with him. To establish all of these programs for the support team. Dedicate resources. Really say, "Okay per quarter, this is how much time and how much budget we have to really drive these L&D programs, and everyone that is a support lead should have these trainings." Learn how to have tough conversations or how to give feedback or whatever it is that we choose to be in the program. I think it's really great to see initiatives pop up here and there.

But I'm, actually looking forward to the big leagues of L&D. I think that there's a ton of opportunity ahead of us and I'm really excited.

Scott: [00:39:45] Tevi. Do you have any ideas of things to do collaboratively?

Tevi: [00:39:50] So I, actually started a book club. Basically a Slack thing. So you vote once a month on the book that we're going to read. There are like four books let's say and link out to Amazon. So you could see more about it and you just hit 1, 2, 3, or 4. Vote on your favorite.

Then that month, that's what we're going to read. And each week you get a standup question. They're three questions. What like, don't like. Emoji response. What I learned from the book this week, and uh, there's one more question. I can't remember at this time, I'm trying to like play with the questions. Because I want it to be short and easy to participate, but be enough encouragement for everybody to feel like it's not too hard. By being async instead of a live Zoom, it's a lot easier to participate. And then we actually track how many people are responding to the polls and how many people are responding to the standup.

Susana: [00:40:41] I love that.

Scott: [00:40:42] Yeah, I love the book club. I've been doing the book clubs, but more synchronously. I'm going on a specific topic doing it once a month. One month it could be leadership. One could be empathy. One could be whatever else it is. And each person gets to choose their own book and gives a 5-10 minute book report on the lessons they've learned and most important bullet points in there. Just to be able to share the knowledge. Especially being on a specific topic to have an opportunity to learn from different books and different people's perspectives.

The other thing that I also would like doing is the lunch n' learn. It doesn't have to specifically be on a work topic. One of the companies that I was working with, one of my favorite ones was somebody who was similar to Tevi and I are big fans of wine. So did a and learn on the different types of wine. He had recently gone to a couple of wineries for wine tasting and was giving kind of a tutorial on types of wine. How they're grown. The process. What type of food that it pairs well with. And I think having that opportunity just to do collaboratively over lunch and being able to share that experience and share those interests is a good idea to do.

Susana: [00:41:49] I need to do a lunch n learn with my team.

Scott: [00:41:53] Awesome. Any other questions, anybody?

Tevi: [00:41:56] I just want to throw out there that I loved what you touched on Susana. I don't want it to get lost because I think it's very important. You mentioned how you have core values at the company. As a company leader say that we care about empathy, then I want my team to be learning about empathy, user experience, customer experience, that's important.

And I think most companies focus too much on the job requirements as opposed to helping raise the team in their overall company core values. I think that's a great point and I don't want that to get lost.

Susana: [00:42:28] Oh, thank you. I totally agree with that. And of the things that I'm most proud of at Loom is that our core values are such a great reflection of the people that we have in the team. it's not really about driving the mission. There's definitely an element of it. It's really about embracing the weird. Your personality matters, bring it on. Be yourself and it's growing through empathy. Help others learn from others. Learn yourself. Asking for more. Always trying to do your best and a couple of others. Remote first and now I'm not remembering the last one. This is a huge fail on my end, but there's another one that is really nice. Similarly, we also have Support values. We have our Loom values and then we also have five Support values that guide the way that we communicate with our customers, but also talk to the people on our team and our attitude should be. thinking critically and creating liberally is definitely one of them. And it's probably the one that's most connected to learning and development. we care so much about people growing, learning, developing their skills, and just creating value and having value-added for themselves that we definitely want to make sure that it's at the forefront.

And people think about it every single day. So thank you for mentioning that Tevi.

Scott: [00:43:56] Susana, thank you so much for joining. Sharing your knowledge, your experience, and what you're doing, and how hard you're working to embed L&D into the Loom Support and Loom team employee experience. So again, thank you so much until the next episode have a great day everybody.