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How to Build Connection Into Your Engineering Team

Now, more than ever, building company culture is more important (and more difficult) than ever before. Here's a sneak peek behind the Syncari Engineering team and how they're building connections even while thousands of miles apart.

In a recent virtual team happy hour, we played the party game Two Truths and a Lie. For those who haven’t played the game before, the rules are simple: everyone shares two truths about themselves with one lie mixed in. Then the rest of the party guesses what the lie is and, in turn, finds out the truth.

It was both inspiring and wildly entertaining to hear the varied stories and backgrounds of our teammates. We learned things like how many languages someone could speak (our team average was surprisingly high) or what countries they’ve lived in. We heard stories of mud races, walking with lions, and being blessed by the chief monk in Tibet. One team member crashed into a horse while paragliding (fortunately neither the horse nor the paraglider were hurt). Another saved a stranger’s life at K-mart. Another married the great-granddaughter of Nephi Grigg, the inventor of the tater tot.

The stories we heard share a piece of the lives of our team members. Stories tell so much more than just what we believe or how we think. They provide the context for our beliefs and help explain our world-view. Hearing these stories reminded me of how, now perhaps more than ever, staying connected to other people is critical to our team productivity, mental health, and ultimate success.

With that in mind, I want to share a few I think we do well at Syncari to promote connection.

Culture

Having a culture of respect, honesty, and openness is the foundation for creating a space where people can speak up, share their ideas, and even make mistakes. Plenty has been written about the need for good culture, but culture can’t be obtained by just writing down what you want your culture to look like. You need people that exemplify those values and encourage others to do the same.

As our CEO, Nick Bonfiglio, says, “we’re looking to hire people that are not just smart, we’re looking for people that are just good humans.” At Syncari, we have a lot of good humans which makes sustaining a strong culture much easier.

Express appreciation

When developing enterprise software, it can be easy to feel disconnected from the people that actually use what you build. This disconnect can make your work feel isolated or lacking in meaning. Imagine a musician writing a great song but never getting the satisfaction of performing or seeing someone perform it for others to enjoy.

As an engineer, I highly recommend meeting with customers, even with today’s challenges of face-to-face or virtual communication. Putting real people behind the product you’re building can make a huge difference in your vision of the product and make your work feel more tangible.

At Syncari, our sales and support teams have adopted sharing feedback from customers: e.g. what they like about the product and how they use it with the rest of their team. This cross-department communication helps us feel more cohesive and brings life to Syncari — both as a company and in the product.

In addition to seeing how people benefit from what you’re building, there are other ways to make the value of your work more clear. For example, a few months back, one of our employees started a Slack channel where recognition can be given for great work. Even just creating the channel makes people think more about the work others do and encourages sharing their appreciation. The channel activity seems to come in bursts. Like a match that starts a fire, when one person shares something they appreciate, others echo the appreciation and share their own.

A look at our Engineering team

Collaborate

Engineering is a social experience. We rely on each other to validate our ideas, come up with new ones, and look at problems in a different way. With so much push in the professional world to reduce meetings, it’s important not to reduce collaboration.

It’s really easy to feel like you’re wasting others’ time by talking to them if you don’t have a specific problem that needs their attention. But we recently started something new that has lessened that fear — a Slack channel.

But this is no ordinary channel. This channel is used as a virtual coworking space where we utilize Slack’s huddle feature. People can hop in and out at their leisure, say hello to each other, and ask about life or ask about work. It’s a simple way to let people work in a shared space whenever they want and recreate the natural social experiences we have when we’re working in the same room.

Syncari engineering: building a better future

Working at Syncari is a great opportunity to help build an incredible product for an exciting company. And at the heart of our work is the people we work with. They are the ones who really understand our successes and failures. Despite all the challenges over the past few years, I feel confident we’ll continue to find ways to connect, inspire each other, and build things that make the world a better place.

If you’d like to join us on our journey, we’d love to hear from you. Check out our open roles and let’s get in touch!

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