The Team Growth Done Right
We proudly present the Special Forces Program. The initiative enhances self-development, fosters exploration, and creates a dynamic environment for skill improvement.
Introduction to Callstack’s Special Forces
Callstack has been on the market for several years now. Today we have almost 20 world-class developers in our team. They are dealing with most complex React and React Native projects on a daily basis as we consistently follow our motto:
To support and inspire other developers and companies to launch their products for everyone at the same time on every platform.
That means going out of our comfort zone and explore the unexplored. Our team is made of people who like coding, solving problems and creating most efficient algorithms. That’s a great thing, but sometimes passion is not enough, sometimes you just are not sure what else you should learn or which direction you should follow. That’s why over a year ago I took on the role of the Developer Growth Manager to help all our employees find their own direction and develop their skills without losing their passion.
In the beginning, it required a lot of thought. I knew that we couldn’t create one route in order to force everyone to go through it. That’s what they do in schools and, from my experience, I can tell it doesn’t give the best results. Back in the day, when we had about 10 developers on board, I was able to meet with each one of them personally, so every 3 months we had a talk about their interests and goals for the next quarter. Some folks wanted to reforge their ideas into open source projects, others wanted to start speaking at conferences or learn a new programming language.
Our then team structure was way different — we had a bit higher number of junior and mid developers than we have now, and we knew that we needed to approach them a bit different when it comes to self-development. That’s why, together with our Operations Manager, Chris, we came up with an idea of the Road to Senior program that aimed to eliminate the weak areas and help the “youngsters” advance 🔝
At some point, we found out that growth plan wasn’t very scalable. Our team started growing and I was not able to track each person’s growth the way I wanted, or it just simply took too much time. Here at Callstack your self-development really matters, that’s why we found a better, more encouraging and engaging way to handle this — and we called it the Special Forces Program.
When it comes to scalability, we knew that the only option to provide efficient system is to delegate some of the responsibilities to other people. We created four groups and made it possible for our developers to join a different group every three months - based on their interests and the areas they wanted to improve in. Chris started supporting me in managing this by watching people’s performance in the projects, overseeing their contact with our clients and helping them in case of any problems. He also helps me keep the things together. Apart from that, I’ve found four great developers with leadership abilities to lead the groups - we called them the Guardian Angels.
As I have just mentioned, we have now four separate self-development groups, and each developer can change their group every three months. You can pick the Open Source Evangelists, Tech Wizards, Rockstar Speakers or the Trendsetters group. The attendance is not mandatory, but everyone is actually taking part in the programme since it’s super interesting and truly engaging. I have personally joined two groups in the current three months period.
Open Source Evangelists
Our first group is made of Open Source enthusiasts that love creating innovative tools and libraries, and sharing the code with everyone. But that’s not the only thing — each week they pick a new project and they contribute to it. And remember — together we are stronger!
This group was always very important to me since as a developer, I love discovering new technologies and programming languages. It made me move from PHP to Node back in the day, then discover the power of React and start the mobile developer journey with React Native. Today we have a lot of technologies in cross-platform development — RN is powering mobile apps for quite some time, but we also have things like Flutter or Kotlin/Native around the corner. The Tech Wizards are these nerd guys who are passionate about every piece of code they write. In last quarter they made a remote controlled car with Elixir-based server on RaspberryPi and apps in Swift and Kotlin to control it. You can’t miss this group’s work if you love technology.
We love sharing our knowledge and as a company, we proudly host the amazing React Native EU conference in Wrocław, Poland. After learning a lot from many conference and meetup talks available on the internet, our team felt that it’s time to start giving back to the community by sharing our own knowledge and experience — that’s why the Rockstar Speakers group members are traveling across Europe, attending the community events and presenting the most interesting topics. The group’s goal is to help each member create the best presentations, but also to encourage people who haven’t spoken publicly yet to do so. In last quarter we managed to speak at React Finland [World Class experience with React Native] andgive two amazing speeches at React Native Camp [React Native: The Dark Side of Background Tasks, Pushing React Native outside the comfort zone]. Also, we gave a few workshops and internal speeches. Skills up!
The last but not least is the Trendsetters group. These guys are doing the irreplaceable role of keeping the company up to date with the hottest stuff around the corner and on the bleeding edge of technology. They also write a lot of the blog posts — if you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with our amazing blog. You can find them surfing around Callstack’s Twitter and Facebook channels, as well as cross-platform development groups. They also have kicked off our official YouTube Channel recently. If you’re interested in cross-platform development, make sure not to miss it — great piece of content will be coming your way. Stay tuned!
To sum up
In the end, we managed to create a great environment to improve the skills of each developer in our company, being a mixture of fun and learning. But there’s more! We just kicked off the non-technical group for other people in the company. If you want to know more about it follow our blog and Twitter , and you won’t miss a thing!