How Knowledge Sharing Can Grow Tech Teams: Frontend Coffees

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Monika Bydełek

Jan 2, 2023 • 7 min read
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Knowledge sharing in a workplace is the basis for an organization's operation and for building a knowledge-based culture. We believe that the quality of our people's skills has a direct impact on the quality delivered to our customers. And a great way to make a team's skills grow is through knowledge-sharing initiatives.

Have you ever wondered what knowledge transfer looks like at Netguru? In fact, our internal tech communities are very committed to running initiatives in this area. Let's see what joint knowledge exchange looks like in one of the technical departments: Frontend.

The Frontend Coffee

This initiative was created as a space for mutual knowledge exchange. It was launched several years ago and has gone through various stages of development. Currently, our Frontend Developers meet regularly in meetings called Frontend Coffee.

What is Frontend Coffee? It is a space to share knowledge and create a community within Netguru. Goals of the meetings:

  • Building a community of people interested in frontend.
  • Sharing knowledge actively.
  • Creating an open culture where everyone can participate and add value – everyone is invited!

"Frontend Coffee allowed me to present my knowledge with colleagues with a similar range of skills. It's great to share something that people are passionate about. It also gave me the opportunity to fight with my inborn reluctance to present to a large group of people."

– Piotr Mackiewicz, Frontend Developer

There are biweekly meetings during which participants discuss various established and prepared topics in a rather informal way. The idea behind this informal approach is to remove as many obstacles as possible that might prevent participants from participating actively.

What isn’t Frontend Coffee? We primarily want to avoid boring, hours-long presentations or monologues. Meetings are not mandatory, but we encourage everyone to participate actively. There are no wrong questions or comments. We follow the principle that meetings are to bring value to all participants – additional questions or starting a discussion are desirable elements during our assemblies.

How to make it work?

Community

Meetings are prepared mainly for people from the Frontend department, however, we are open to guests from all Netguru teams – both as speakers and participants. Everyone can apply to participate voluntarily.

Currently, we have one meeting owner who watches over the organization of topics, searches for speakers, monitors the substantive value, and collects needs. However, anyone who has an idea to improve the formula is invited to the discussion. We want everyone who engages with Frontend Coffee to feel that they also have an impact on the shape of this initiative.

"Our meetings contribute to deepening of the team relationship. It gave me a broader view of how to work in a team, and how to approach individuals, because we are different."

– Justyna Sobczak, Frontend Developer

The flow

Each host gives character to the meetings and selects the amount of content they convey. The formula of the meeting depends on the idea of ​​the host. The only condition is that you need to fit within a maximum of 60 minutes. There might be presentations prepared in Google Slides or demo technical presentations of code, and sometimes it's just a discussion on a selected topic moderated by the speaker. Meetings are usually conducted mainly in English. We record meetings, which we later place together with materials (e.g. articles or presentations) in our internal knowledge base. We want everyone who could not attend the presentation or who wants to recall the content to have free access to these resources.

"Whether it’s learning about some new tech, discussing some project case study, or talking about soft skills, there is always something to pick up from those meetings. The formula allows one to ask questions and openly discuss presented issues, which can provide different perspectives."

– Daniel Siciński, Frontend Developer

Diversified topics

Both technical and those that are more associated with business. Example topics of past meetings:

  • How to research customer needs as a developer?
  • How to talk to a business client?
  • Non-violent communication (NVC)
  • How does the Research and Development department (RnD) function?
  • Intro to multi-locale sites
  • The use of monorepo in practice
  • Server side rendering – performance improvements in JavaScript applications

"The most valuable are meetings with guests from other departments. On the internet you can often get lost in the abundance of information, and at FE Coffee we delve into a given topic and can understand it well. You can often talk to the invited guests and dispel all doubts."

– Marcin Skowyra, Senior Frontend Developer

Why is knowledge sharing important? Growth is the goal

We have observed that both technical and business topics are popular among participants. There is no rule in this case. However, the initiative itself is generally well seen by our developers, and they praise the fact that such a space exists in the department. Firstly, people who come to meetings as listeners grow their skills in a selected topic. On the other hand, for people who prepare a presentation, it is a good way to present their expertise, give value to colleagues, and practice public speaking skills. The evidence for this may be the fact that the people who conducted their speeches for the first time said that conducting the meeting was a new, but at the same time, interesting experience for them. Moreover, building interaction with an audience increases their engagement.

After the presentations, we send evaluation surveys, in which each participant has the opportunity to evaluate a given presentation. Speakers receive insightful suggestions for their speeches, thanks to which they can further grow their own skills, too.

"Being a speaker helped me get outside of my comfort zone, since I'm pretty insecure and I get stressed easily. It also made my impostor syndrome shrink a little bit – I think my fellow frontend devs were genuinely interested in the topic I was presenting, they've asked some accurate follow-up questions which made this whole experience really rewarding."

– Jakub Figlak, Frontend Developer

Knowledge sharing is caring

Frontend Coffee is a place where we can develop together, thanks to which it often takes on an integrating character. This is one of many initiatives that are part of the Netguru knowledge-sharing culture. We expand our expert knowledge as well as build business awareness in the department, which supports us in our daily work as specialists, associates, and consultants. Knowledge sharing is caring! And makes everyone grow their skills to become better as an expert and at work.

If you are curious about this topic, stay tuned for our next blog posts about knowledge-sharing sessions.

Maybe it already sounds like a place you would like to join? Check your career opportunities and join the Netguru team.

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Monika Bydełek

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