As the size of your team changes, so must processes

At Podia, we ended 2018 at 10 people. By the end of April 2019, we were 17. Very quickly, as we were hiring more people, it became very apparent that we would need to update our processes.

In principle, I hate processes. I think most of the time they just get in the way of doing real work and add unnecessary steps from whatever you’re trying to do. Having to double-check that you’re following company procedure or logging into yet another application to perform a task is frustrating and brain draining to me.

But, the reality is, knowledge sharing and the general understanding of how things work at your company tend to break down as you grow.

As our company grew, we found this to be true for us, so we added a few new processes to help:

1. Hiring process

Before 2019, we were only hiring one person at a time, so managing the process was fairly straightforward. We had a job posting on our website, a link to a Typeform to submit the application, and we used Dropbox Paper to track candidates and share feedback between the people in charge of hiring.

In 2019, we started hiring for 3 positions at once (Creative Support Agent, Developer, and Creative Content Marketer) and trying to manage all of that with how we had things set up broke down, and quickly. The bottle neck was reviewing applications and taking feedback, so we moved to a “proper” Application Tracking System to smooth out our process.

2. File sharing and document sharing

As more people joined the team, it became unwieldy without proper permission settings, so we finally bit the bullet and upgraded our Dropbox setup from shared Personal folders to Dropbox Teams. The benefit is two-fold: it helps us now and protects us down the road when people eventually leave the team (though we’ve been very lucky to date 🤞).

Before, we’d just share a document with the relevant people as needed, but people having to request access to documents was a pain. This way, everything is super well-organized in our Dropbox account and we have it segmented by department.

One thing I kind of lament is the fact that Dropbox Teams is pretty expensive at $20/user/month. That adds up with 17 people where we’re now paying $340/month. 🤷‍♂️

3. 1-on-1s

We’ve never had a very formal process to our 1-on-1s. As a small team under 10, we were able to keep fairly up-to-date and engaged with people through Slack and our weekly calls. I’d do 1-on-1s every few months as things became quieter.

Now, as we’ve grown, we’re looking into 1-on-1 apps as a way to formalize the process and I also think we need to increase the frequency of 1-on-1s. At this time, I’m not in favor of weekly or even bi-weekly 1-on-1s, so we’ll likely consider monthly or every six weeks to test that out.

4. Company knowledge board

While we had just started using a company knowledge board to gather and document all of our internal notes, docs, processes, etc., as new people joined the team, it became very apparent that we’d need to do a better job of updating it.

This is one of the processes I think we’ve benefited the most from. For example, as new Customer Support Agents have joined, they’ve been able to see how we do things, answers to common questions, and guides on all sorts of things. Same goes with the Development, Design, and Marketing team.

And everyone benefits from our newly created “HR” folder that has everything from the payment schedule to our Family Leave Policy (also new).

5. Product management

Since hiring two new developers in 2019 — we’re now at seven — we’ve also spent time cleaning up the way we use Trello. Previously, we had two boards: one for things we were currently working on, and one for our backlog of do’s that included bugs and tasks.

Since then, we’ve added a third for bugs and other tasks and removed those from our backlog. Now, our customer support folks can add any reported bugs directly into the “Bugs and Tasks” board.

This helps keep things more organized. It may seem obvious in retrospect, but when you’re fewer people, it’s often not necessary to separate things so much.

What hasn’t changed?

Just about everything else I can think of hasn’t changed. For me, it’s important to not make too many changes too quickly. Change is good, adapting to having more people is important, but I don’t want to rock the boat and mess up everything that’s been working so well up until now.

Before Podia, the largest team I’ve led was thirteen people, so this is definitely different, but as you often hear from experienced founders who have grown larger teams, it doesn’t really get harder as long as you’re working with great people and you stay organized.

I’m excited to see how things continue to change as we grow in size.


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