code-for-a-living February 10, 2022

Foster a continuous learning culture with Stack Overflow for Teams

We've talked about psychological safety and continuous learning; Stack Overflow for Teams can help with both.
Avatar for Lori Colston
Sr. Product Marketing Manager - Former

When employees are encouraged to be curious—to ask questions and seek answers—they experience professional growth through knowledge building. It might be uncomfortable for some to choose curiosity over certainty and admit they don’t know everything. Organizations with a psychologically safe environment make it easier for employees to be vulnerable, speak up for help, and acquire new knowledge. 

Creating and maintaining a psychologically safe environment is multifaceted, and it takes commitment from leadership, managers, and individual contributors alike. A company’s shared values and attitude—their culture—is the biggest driver of psychological safety, while technology can play a supporting role.  

What to look for in technology that enables continuous learning

We provided a foundational understanding of psychological safety and how a safe environment helps build a culture of lifelong learners. In this article, we’ll dive into capabilities to look for in software that puts humans first, not technology, and can provide continuous learning opportunities for your employees. 

A place to find answers and experts

According to Amy Edmondson, “psychological safety in the workplace is the belief that the environment is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. It is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.”

The future of work is distributed employees working across different locations and time zones, and in some cases, hybrid work options. This has caused organizations to move from spontaneous hallway or “water cooler” conversations to intentional collaboration. A quick  “shoulder tap” or grabbing a coffee and huddling up in a room to talk through a question or idea is happening less often.  

Today, employees quickly resort to chat applications like Slack or Microsoft Teams when they have a question, but this is ineffective when they don’t know who to ask. What if the knowledge they uncover could be helpful for several people, but they aren’t in the channel?  

Stack Overflow for Teams is a knowledge sharing and collaboration platform that connects knowledge seekers with experts. It drives intentional collaboration with a natural and intuitive Q&A format. Employees ask questions when they run into a roadblock, want to improve their skills, or need to gather context from historical decisions when building something new. Stack Overflow for Teams creates and supports a culture of openness as employees are empowered to be curious and ask questions—it’s part of the platform’s core functionality. 

Stack Overflow for Teams captures knowledge for future reuse. Capturing knowledge, either in a Q&A or long-form format, is a way to proactively safeguard your employees from losing knowledge when their peers depart from the organization. Remaining and new employees can access existing knowledge as a starting point for covering their departed coworker’s duties. 

An internal community helps employees collaborate, find meaning, and get inspired.

Curiosity and professional growth start with sharing knowledge and result in organizational evolution. The more knowledge is shared, the more interest is built, and the more curious people become. 

Annie Murphy Paul, the author of The Extended Mind, argues that humans benefit from information looping. This is the passing of knowledge from our brains, in and out of different domains like our body, space, and other people’s minds, and then back to ourselves. This looping emphasizes the importance of workplace collaboration. People grow and learn most effectively in an environment that supports the looping of information in which an individual’s ideas can be extracted and shared with others for input and improvement.  

Stack Overflow for Teams encourages sharing solutions, ideas, and input from an internal community of experts. Users can openly share their experiences or findings, and others can weigh in through collaborative features such as comments, feedback loops, upvotes, emojis, etc. The personalized feed of knowledge, tags for categorizing information, and gamification through reputation points, badges, and bounties encourage users to provide solutions, share input, and build a healthy community of experts. 

A distraction-free way to stay up-to-date on new knowledge

Developers and technologists want to solve complex problems and grow by learning new things. They don’t want to be weighed down or blocked by hard-to-find details or documents. When forced to a standstill, they want to be able to find solutions quickly or connect with an expert in a way that doesn’t distract others. Stack Overflow for Teams is a hub that is easy to search for existing institutional knowledge and fosters asynchronous sharing of new knowledge to help users overcome the roadblocks. 

John C. Maxwell said, “you never really know something until you teach it to someone else.” People become experts and learn the most when sharing their knowledge with others. When employees share knowledge and teach others in one-off chat pings or emails, it rarely gets reused. Stack Overflow for Teams captures knowledge for reuse and becomes the place to look for just-in-time company knowledge. 

Additionally, Stack Overflow for Teams allows users to have total control over how often and when to be notified of relevant knowledge that is newly shared or updated. For example, suppose someone wants to broaden their statistical analysis and visualization skills. In that case, they might want to follow that `R`tag used within the knowledge base for those asking questions, solutions, or long-form content related to programming language for statistical computing. Users can set how often they want to receive emails or even set up a notification within their messaging application channels. These updates spark interest and lead to continuous learning, even subconsciously. 

Knowledge building leads to growth

Stack Overflow for Teams supports continuous learning opportunities—a necessary attribute of organizations that desire to retain developers and technologies. The platform provides daily learning moments such as finding solutions to an unexpected challenge, connecting asynchronously with technical experts, and building new skills. 

The knowledge sharing and collaboration platform reinforce interpersonal risk-taking through its familiar Q&A feature, and users are encouraged to be curious in a psychologically safe environment. Want to find out more? Learn more about Stack Overflow for Team and why thousands of organizations use it to share knowledge and collaborate more effectively. 

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