Rapid growth is a great measure of a company’s success, but it comes with potentially serious growing pains that can hurt collaboration and overall effectiveness of your teams.
Here, rapid scaling means hiring more people to maintain a consistent growth rate, since headcount growth follows revenue. For instance, hiring more developers to build new features that will generate new revenue, then expanding the sales team that will sell these new features, which leads to hiring customer success managers to support these new users.
This comes with three major problems: We need to scale product, people and processes at the same time. You can’t just scale one thing and keep the others unchanged. With processes, it’s critical to remember that what works for 10 people won’t work for 25 and so on. The more your team expands, the more your processes need to be streamlined. Additionally, fast growth depends on your company’s ability to hire well and onboard quickly, which also relies on the effiсency of your processes.
Growing quickly can create challenges for non-engineer collaboration as well. For example, it makes consistent, normal documentation of processes difficult. It’s even more complicated when considering the fact that much of the testing expertise needs to be transferred personally, slowing down workflows and potentially impacting seasoned team members’ motivation.
Let’s look at six steps to improve information sharing, smooth onboarding and maintain development speed through QA and non-engineer collaboration.
1. Hire experienced managers from outside the company.
While it’s important to grow people within the company, it is also immensely helpful to bring in experienced management, such as engineering managers, department heads and team leads. Leaders with outside experience can streamline growth by taking on some aspects of scaling independently and act as a go-between for less experienced teammates.
Hiring tips: Hire people who can hire people, particularly those with experience in hypergrowth in a previous position. They know what to do and can significantly boost overall performance.
2. Make a detailed onboarding plan.
For new hires, information is power, and onboarding is the best way to start them off on the right path. Clear, comprehensive onboarding processes ensure all new hires get the same level of information. This prevents them from having to ask excessive amounts of questions and also limits the amount of accidental misinformation they receive, facilitating fast closing of the knowledge gap.
Onboarding tips: If you don’t have an onboarding plan, the easiest way to make one is to collect feedback from the recent newcomers and ask them describe what challenges they had (e.g. couldn’t get access to product repository or setup dev environment). That’s your starting point.
3. Pair new employees with an experienced mentor to answer questions.
At Qase, we follow a one-to-one policy of pairing one newbie with a seasoned veteran. This gives the new hire access to a trove of practical knowledge that cannot be easily gleaned from training texts. This “buddy system” also makes the transfer of employee-specific knowledge much easier and helps integrate the new and old teams into a more collaborative blended unit, which is critical for fast scaling.
Buddy tips: This method is a good way to improve soft skills for existing employees and give them a better understanding of the company if they want to choose a management path in the future.
4. Form teams that are half newbies, half “oldies.”
In that same vein, it is wise to follow a similar principle among various teams. We aim for blending half new and half “old” staff whenever we form teams. Newbies often have a fresh perspective, which is great for innovation, but they may lack the practical, company-specific insight that veteran employees have.
Additionally, infusing a team with seasoned employees helps drastically cut down the “forming-storming-norming-performing” cycle and helps newbies get a better feel for company culture.
Team formation tip: If your company has established values and clear goals, that can help to align newcomers.
5. Automate your routine whenever possible.
Before massive scaling takes place, comb through your company’s processes and identify any potential bottlenecks, such as how frequently you’ll need to grant access rights. Formulate solutions for these problems ahead of time to prevent lags during scaling.
Automation tips: No-code or low-code solutions and chatbots can save a lot of time. At Qase, we do a lot through Slack: deployments, vacations, new microservice generation and other tasks.
6. Create a company wide tech radar.
One easy way to prevent chaos and confusion during periods of rapid growth is to create a single repository outlining the programs and software being used for each project. This keeps miscommunications from slowing development time, e.g., starting a project in redux and realizing later that someone else was using mobx, so now you have two halves of a project in two different languages.
Tech radar tip: Follow this guide to build your own tech radar.
7. Set clear and transparent goals for your team
When you scale your company, it is critical for everyone to understand the direction of the company. There is nothing more frustrating than a new employee who doesn’t know what to do or why they were hired. Unfortunately, that is a common problem for hypergrowth companies.
Every team and department should have clear and transparent goals aligned with the company’s mission.
Goal-setting tips: You can use different techniques, approaches and their combinations: OKRs, North Star Metrics, All Hands meetings, Public product demos and many others to create a solution that works for your company culture.