When I joined SiteGround 7 years ago, we were about 50 people and I recall that in just two weeks I had met and talked to everyone in the company. Seven years later, we have 5 offices in 3 different cities in Bulgaria only, and more and more people are starting to work remotely for the company. Until last week, I had never seen some of my new colleagues from the technical support and system administration departments.
Last week, all techies from all SiteGround offices have joined a team building that everyone will remember and that helped us feel part of a rockstar team of people, working together to literally change the world for themselves and for our clients. For me personally, that teambuilding inspired me to share with you an insider’s view on our culture and how we build our rockstar teams.
How we build rockstar teams at SiteGround?
You’ve all heard or used the terms “rockstar developer”, “wizard” and “ninja”, which are frequently used even as job titles in some IT companies for their developers, sysadmins or other tech people. The software world came up with them because they are cool, they suggest people have really fun work environments, and they give a special status and recognition of the unique skill set of the owner of that title. In reality, a single employee, even the most talented, can’t possibly cover all the processes of development, system administration, support, etc. thus becoming the unicorn, the magician of the company. But when a few skilled and motivated individuals unite, they could make a ROCKSTAR TEAM. That is why SiteGround puts so much effort into building and maintaining technical teams that are unified, cohesive and supplement each other’s skills.
The willingness of all members to help and share unites the team
One of the things I love about SiteGround is that everyone in the company is willing to help you and keeps an open mind for new ideas. For example, support team members can go and talk straight to the DevOps engineers. If they need help, they get it right on the spot. If they have ideas about certain projects, they can discuss them with the developers and not simply report them to their supervisors and team leaders, thus putting them in the backlog of eternity. This type of culture in the company not only makes people feel part of a team, but also drives progress.
In most big companies transparency is either missing or it is something that just the C-level executives enjoy, while they are seated around a table at the end of the financial year. During our team building, all the technical C-level executives, including our CEO, had sessions and participated in discussions about the latest developments and changes in the company. That helped all the people in the company feel that their ideas matter and can actually contribute to the company’s success.
A team building event is an ideas incubator
High-tech people expect to work long hours but they hate rigid schedules. Such people are productive all the time, but they are creative when you least expect it. However, there is one thing, which always skyrockets the levels of productivity and creativity in such people - just get them all in one place and enjoy the ride.
So, here we are – all techies from SiteGround united for a 4-day teambuilding event. One of the evenings, I got a call from the head of the DevOps department at 4 a.m. that he patched the C code of the custom PHP handlers we use, and the new version is ~18-20% faster. The strange thing was that he did not wake me up - I was with 15 more people at the hotel’s pool, discussing how to improve our existing software deployment system.
The call fostered my interest to such an extent that I could hardly stop thinking about it, coming up with more ideas and sharing them with the people I hung out with. On the next day, I talked to other people who were not in my late-nighters’ group and asked them when they had gone to bed. It turned out that everyone had stayed up late and talked to his/her colleagues, discussing how we can improve a system or how to automate certain tasks. That is what I call team work.
The desire to make a difference
The individuals in the team matter as well. But what matters is not just their skills set, but also their mindset. At the end of the team building, one of my colleagues told me a story. A story about the cover of the first book he read about server/network management. On the cover, he said, there was a small slogan that is now stuck not only in his mind but also in mine. The slogan was “We Make The Net Work”. He was so excited when he told me the story that his voice started to tremble. Finally, he told me that he has never imagined that one day he will have the opportunity to literally work for a company that every day changes the Internet. From now on when someone asks me what I do for SiteGround I will say - “I and everyone else at SiteGround make the Internet, we make it work, and we make it better!”