I always chuckle when people conclude an announcement about their new job with “By the way, we’re hiring!”. It makes perfect sense, of course. We all want to work with people we know and we’re naturally feeling pretty great about the company we just joined.
But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “How do you know if you’re really going to love it there?” More importantly, “How do you know you’re going to stay?” It’s pretty common in the technology world to see another post about a year later, about another company, with another by the way.
That came to mind last week as we started recruiting for a developer position at Pingboard, the place I work. I’ve posted about jobs before and reached out to friends about them, but there’s only so much a link to a job posting can tell you. If I was on the other side of the link, there’s a lot more I’d want to know.
In February, I will have been at Pingboard for three years. When I’m trying to decide about a place to work, I look at four things: the problem, people, place, and practice. Here’s why I work at Pingboard and why you might enjoy it, too.
Pingboard is the place for everything you need to know about the people you work with. From the web and our mobile apps, everyone in the company has quick access to the org chart, contact info, who’s out sick or working remote, birthdays and anniversaries, and who knows Ruby or loves to bike. Why is it we can get any answer in seconds outside of work, but not at work? We believe that democratizing company information is the first step to being more effective and happier at work, and more connected to your coworkers.
It’s an interesting, challenging, and relatively unique problem to solve. It’s also one that companies think is worth paying for. We have a growing number of customers in diverse industries and locales. They are typically hiring rapidly and care deeply about their employees and their culture. They’ve reached the point where no one knows who’s who and who does what anymore.
We’ve made great progress (and many mistakes), and yet we feel like we’ve barely even started. There are so many ideas just waiting to be built.
Our team is still small. That means that everyone plays a significant part and each hire is taken very seriously.
My coworkers have many similarities in the things you’d like to be similar, and a lot of variety in everything else. They are smart, focused, encouraging, humble, friendly, and always willing to help. They’re also interesting, curious people with full lives outside of work - travelers, music lovers, gardeners, woodworkers, hockey players, dancers, and more.
Our co-founders bring a lot of experience and a history of success. With that comes maturity; we hire slowly, are cautious with money, and always maintain perspective. But they’re also willing to rethink anything. They know what they don’t know and relish asking questions and learning from others.
Along with that comes a commitment to transparency. Everyone in the company works with the same set of information, including revenue, expenses, metrics, and how much is in the bank. All questions are welcomed and answered.
Who you work with matters more than anything else. At Pingboard, I am constantly learning from my coworkers and enjoying their company.
We have our own space in one of Austin’s best neighborhoods. It’s in a old house with hardwood floors and windows that actually open.
We’re surrounded by great restaurants, coffee, and eclectic food trailers. We do meetings walking through the neighborhood and at picnic tables outside our favorite coffee shop.
Everyone has the option of an adjustable desk and the equipment of their choice. We also have unlimited vacation and the freedom to work remotely when the mood strikes.
Our office is a unique, casual, slightly quirky place that quickly feels like home.
If you’re joining an engineering and product team, the way software is planned, developed, tested, and shipped matters a great deal. Here’s a brief overview of our process.
We practice Kanban, which encourages continuous flow, team ownership, and focus. We use Trello for project management to make it easy to know the state of each story (in progress, code review, testing, blocked, live), as well as potential problem areas (too many stories in progress or awaiting deployment.) All development stories go through code review and continuous integration tests must pass before they’re ready for human testing and review on staging.
Our 2-week cycles begin with a kickoff meeting on Monday and end the following Friday with a company-wide meeting where we demo (and celebrate) the work.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the whole team walks the Kanban board together. This meeting replaces the daily standup we’re all familiar with and, in our case, it’s been a massive improvement. We simply start at the right side of the board (stories awaiting release) and work our way backward. Every card is reviewed to make sure the status on the board is accurate, answer any questions about it, add checklist items as needed, and clear any blockers. The focus is on how can we work together to move stories across the finish line.
Walking the board is indicative of how we approach development and design in general. It’s a highly collaborative environment. Everyone is comfortable asking questions, spontaneous whiteboard sessions are the norm, and there’s little arrogance or argument. We’re all on the same page and share a common goal: to continually get better at how we work together (including improving what’s outlined above) and our respective skills, so that we can deliver an amazing product to our customers.
Growing the Team
Over the past year, two great friends that I’d worked with previously joined our team. That turns out to be a fun and addictive experience. If you’re reading this, you’re likely a friend, too (and if not, we probably should be!). If you’re ever curious about the possibility of working at Pingboard, I’d love to talk (say hi on Twitter or email hi at brianbailey.me). It might lead to something right away or plant a seed for a year from now.
We all want work to work on problems that are challenging, rewarding, and interesting. We want to work alongside people we respect, enjoy, and learn from. We want to work in a great environment and look forward to the week. And we want to work somewhere that works smartly and doesn’t prioritize process over people.
We’ve done a lot of work over the past three years to make Pingboard that sort of place. There’s still plenty to fix and figure out, and I’m sure there always will be, and that’s part of the fun, too.
Maybe it’s the sort of place you’re looking for.