When was the last time you really invested in getting to know your coworkers? With busy schedules and siloed teams, the further you go away from your inner circle, the harder it is. Add on the reality of remote teamwork, like we have at Trello, and relying on chat to build relationships can sometimes feel like something's... missing.
As a remote company, Trello lives and breathes in chat. Chat rooms are where we get our work done, catch up on what we got into over the weekend, and hang out with our co-workers. Everyone at Trello uses chat as the primary means of communication, which means when you say something in a chat channel, you’re saying something that will likely be heard by dozens of people.
Fear Of The Unknown Neighbor
It can be intimidating to ask a room full of people your question. You may think, Will they know the answer? Will they think I’m an idiot for asking? Should I already know the answer? Keep in mind that in a distributed team especially, you’re also likely disturbing someone whom you’ve never talked to before with your question.
Impostor syndrome is a well-documented phenomenon that is experienced by a majority of people at one point or another. Compound these feelings of self-doubt with not knowing everyone in the room and whoo-ee, I’m sweating already.
Trello does a great job of combating this by regularly encouraging folks to hop on video calls. We even schedule monthly time for getting on video calls with a random assortment of Trello team members. We call them Mr. Rogers (due to their “won’t you be my neighbor?” nature).
Actual screenshot of a Mr Rogers session at Trello
For Mr. Rogers, everyone is randomly assigned to a video call with a handful of other folks, and you get on and just hang out. No set agenda. Just talk. Who are you? What are you working on? You’re from Michigan too?!
Developers Finding Common Ground
A few months ago Fred, a member of Trello’s technical team, realized there was a common theme in these calls: How did you end up at Trello? Fred wanted to hear everyone’s story, not just from the folks he was randomly paired with to chat on a video. Hoping to be the change he sought, Fred led the way with his #devstory and the call-to-action:
This is the first (of hopefully) a series of DevStory blog posts that chronicle the personal and professional development of Trellists. The premise is simple: it's a showcase of the diverse paths we have taken to becoming colleagues and the lessons we've learned. I hope these posts provide hope, support, encouragement, and advice to each other using our own experiences. If you find a story or lesson that resonates with you, reach out to the author – this could be a way to connect individually on their experience or even the beginning of a more formal mentorship.
Fred shared his story and invited others to share theirs using the tag #devstory via our internal Confluence instance. Writing down our journeys made it easier to give a shape to the person sitting on the other side of the chat room. It was a chance to stop and reflect on the diverse backgrounds of our teammates.
Sharing Our Developer Stories With The World
Once we had a critical mass, we decided to share these stories beyond just the Trello team. We’ve been featuring our developer stories on our engineering blog over the past two months using the hashtag #devstory.
Read Dev Stories
Here are some snippets:
As a 13 year old, Engineer Fred Galoso dreamed of making it big as a heavy metal guitarist (don’t we all?). But he knew they would never reach superstardom without a high quality website. So he used the tips he got from PC Magazine in his local library to cobble together a totally rockin’ web 1.0 site (complete with graphics he cut out and scanned himself). The rest is history. No word yet on how the heavy metal guitar career panned out. Read Fred’s story
For Engineering Manager Kat Walser, her early interest in computer science didn’t exactly dictate a smooth ride into a career in software development. Instead, she stubbornly persisted amidst countless rounds of doubt from adults and teachers in her life, not to mention her limited access to a fledgling curriculum available to teach her. Kat attributes part of her success to her parent’s support, and also her unflappable stubbornness. Thank goodness for that, at least. Read Kat’s story
And then there’s Joe From Work, in his own words: “Some time in the early 90s my Dad bought a computer on the cheap from some college kid. It ran DOS Shell in a dark theme and the heading said "Welcome to hell." As an an elementary school kid, I thought this was very cool. Fast forward to middle school. My StarCraft guild website got hacked by a rival guild. I didn't know how somebody did hacking, but I was impressed and a little scared.” Read the rest of Joe’s story
Plus, there are many more to come! We’ll keep publishing them as we keep writing them and as new people join the team. But we’re not the only ones with stories to share. Everyone has a story! We’d love to hear yours. Tag us on Twitter (@trello) and use the hashtag #devstory.
Read Dev Stories
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