Cheryl Haga Deel
Training & Learning

How Deel’s 5-Minute Content Rule Helps Drive 16-Fold Company Growth in Just One Year

In companies experiencing hypergrowth, one resource takes precedence over all others: time. When everyone is chasing steeper and more ambitious targets, every minute counts.

So, when every second is so precious, how can L&D teams give people the bite-sized and impactful learning experiences they really need? And given collaboration between teams can be so time-consuming, how can we all work together and still beat the clock?

In this week’s expert interview, I spoke with Cheryl Haga, Director of Knowledge and Learning at Deel, about her enablement collaboration strategy to develop trusted relationships and deliver learning at pace for both new hires and experienced staff. 

How does Cheryl and her team get it right? All it takes is one golden rule.

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Driving 16-fold growth with great L&D

Cheryl started our discussion by describing the L&D challenges Deel is currently facing as it drives faster and faster growth.

Founded in 2019, Deel is a startup global payroll company that helps businesses hire, pay, and manage in over 150 different countries. “We do things like onboarding, off-boarding, contracts, and expense management,” explains Cheryl, “so that our clients can do what they do best: run their business.”

As Cheryl explains, Deel has grown 16-fold since January 2021. While this is an incredible and exciting rate of growth, it has big implications for L&D. “This rapid growth creates really unique challenges within the L&D space,” she explains, “because we need to get that knowledge out to the sheer volume of people that are incoming relative to the folks that have been here from the beginning.”

“We're a startup too, so we’re coming up with some really cool opportunities and innovations to speed things up so that we can match what our business needs,” she says.

So, how are Cheryl and her team helping to address these onboarding and hypergrowth challenges? It all comes down to a three-step strategy–and one golden rule.

Related: L&D in a Hybrid World: Aircall’s 4 Tips for Upscaling Manager Training to Drive Growth

We're a startup too, so we’re coming up with some really cool opportunities and innovations to speed things up so that we can match what our business needs.

Looking for even more expert insights? Find out how L&D leaders at Amazon, WhatsApp, Klaviyo and more are driving growth with the right L&D strategy.

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Deel’s 3-step collaboration between L&D and enablement

From the outset of Deel’s period of hypergrowth, Cheryl and the team adopted a three-step strategy to guide collaboration between L&D and enablement.

Step one? Engage.

1. Engage enablement partners across lines of business

First, Cheryl explains that Deel has organized itself into a federated model. “We've got my team,” she says, “which is the knowledge and learning team, and we're that central hub. We manage the learning management system and knowledge management system.”

“But then we rely closely on our enablement partners who are actually embedded in each one of the lines of business. We do this in a way so that they can move very quickly and meet the needs of the specific roles in the moment,” says Cheryl.

As Cheryl explains, this collaboration with their enablement partners is working really well. “We're learning new things every single day, every single week,” she says. “We look back and if things don't go perfectly the first time that's okay, we're not expecting it to go perfectly.

2. Encourage regular contact between teams

Next, Cheryl and the team meet with the enablement teams on a regular basis to talk about what’s going on in the business and to share resources.

“Having that opportunity to collaborate with other peers has allowed us to develop that trust that's really needed which allows us to move a lot more quickly because we have that relationship. We know we can rely on our other teammates to do the work as well.”

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3. Iterate your learning content and plan in advance

Finally, the knowledge and learning team gets content out by iterating and planning in advance so they’re not surprised by having to update new training they’ve launched recently. For example, they’re launching a new LMS system, but they don’t have months to wait to get it out the door.

“We’re looking at new ways of how we get that launched in an iterative way where we're throwing things out immediately now,” Cheryl explains. “We’re still going back and making it work a little bit better for that longer-term scale. So, we’re figuring out how to do that from a planning perspective.”

“For example, when our revenue team creates a great training, maybe that’s not 100% applicable for our support team, but we can pull a lot of that good stuff, slap on a little extra support, and launch it really quickly. So we're able to have those connection points and a more rapid-fire approach versus everybody working in a silo,” she says.

So, that’s how Cheryl and her team are addressing hypergrowth challenges through collaboration. But how are they rolling out content to match the pace of their hyper-growth?

Read on to hear about Deel’s five-minute content rule.

Having that opportunity to collaborate with other peers has allowed us to develop that trust that's really needed which allows us to move a lot more quickly because we have that relationship.

Deel’s secret hypergrowth weapon: the 5-minute content rule

As Cheryl explains, the knowledge and learning team uses one golden rule to keep learning content punchy and impactful: their 5-minute content rule.

“We try hard to make sure that all of our training is five minutes or less, because we’re all working at such great speeds. I don't think this is unique to the startup space either. Obviously, it’s not a hard and fast rule, as some things have to be more than five minutes, but we do our best to stick to it.”

“Every company is working really quickly,” she says, “and as professionals how do we typically go and learn something? We go online and we watch a quick YouTube video and boom bam, we're done. We're out the door with our new learning. That speed and impact is what we're focused on, and that's what we want to make sure we're providing our users.”

Cheryl Haga Deel

Cheryl has one goal with this rule: at the end of each month, when they ask a group of their users how much training they took in a month, they want them to think they hadn't taken any training, when in reality, they’ve done plenty. 

“We can go back into our systems and we can say, ‘actually, you took 47 micro trainings, they just didn't feel like training’. It wasn't that heavy feeling of, ‘oh gosh, I'm sitting in a classroom, again’. We're really aiming to get that to become the norm for our company.”

“If we can have 80% to 90% of our work being in those five-minute chunks,” Cheryl explains, “it enables our individuals across the teams to get back to their work much more quickly. Then we can provide them with those longer learning opportunities for when they have that time or when they are able to focus their mental space on that learning.”

Deel’s strategy for encouraging fast and impactful learning experiences is a great example of collaborative learning in motion. By building trust between teams, they are able to develop impactful content and deliver it at pace to match the company’s hypergrowth.

So, how is Cheryl measuring the impact of this learning?

Related: L&D Plus Leadership: How to Encourage Your C-Suite to See Failure as a Great Opportunity to Learn

Find the magic data: measuring the impact of at-pace content

When measuring the impact of content that’s rolled out quickly, Cheryl explains that it can be tricky. They know they have a problem, but they may not have any quantifiable data to prove it.

“We just know that it's a problem for a lot of people,” she says, “and that's okay–we're a startup. That's just the life of a service. We don't always have all of the training data that we would like.”

1. Start with an internal NPS score

First, Cheryl and the team will measure internal NPS scores. “We’re asking the team: how do you feel about it? Is this a nightmare, or is this lovely? And that's okay to start with. We don't want to say, because we don't have data, we can't do anything, because then we'll never get anything done.”

2. Identify the magic data

Next, as they’re launching the training, the knowledge and learning team is also asking what data they want next. 

“As we watch this training,” says Cheryl, “we're going to start to look at tickets. Are we seeing an increase or a decrease in tickets? Are we seeing an uptick in performance decrease? Whatever the magic data is that we will really want to get, we're telling our teams right off the bat what we want.”

3. Embed a focus on data within your solution

Finally, Cheryl and the team are embedding the need for good data as part of their solution. 

“We're not looking at just what training needs to be done,” she says. “We're looking at processes, data, and the whole spectrum of solutions so that at the end of the day, we launch that training and we get the data back.”

“Then, we can continue to iterate and iterate and iterate as we improve our processes, and then continue to do that maintenance plan. But if we don't have the data to start with, it's okay. It's not the end of the world. Just do it. You've got to do it and it's fine. We will get there.”

We’re asking the team: how do you feel about it? Is this a nightmare, or is this lovely? And that's okay to start with.

A pearl of wisdom for L&D in a hypergrowth environment

With Deel in hypergrowth, I asked Cheryl if she had a pearl of wisdom for L&D leaders in a similar situation.

“Channel your inner Lightning McQueen, if you’ve watched that movie,” says Cheryl. “Go slow to go fast. We are literally launching training every single week, and we have to do that in order to meet our business needs. But we need to be thoughtful about that.”

As Cheryl explains, you should balance what you’re doing right now and whether it will be scaleable in six months. “That's one thing we really try to do consistently. We want to take that step back to understand what's really going on and what's going to be happening in months down the road, not just tomorrow or next week.”

Related: 3 Data-Based Ways To Prove Training ROI (+ Free Training ROI Calculator)

Channel your inner Lightning McQueen, if you’ve watched that movie. Go slow to go fast.

Thanks to Cheryl for sharing her story with us–we wish the knowledge and learning team at Deel all the best as they grow!

Looking for more expert insights on driving hypergrowth with great L&D? Check out Riyaz Adamjee’s tips for creating impactful learning experiences with subject-matter expertise at GTreasury, and Jay Kreshel’s touchpoints framework for increasing customer centricity at AppZen.

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