The Perfect Recipe for Scaling Teams Quickly

Three leaders offer advice and insight into their quickly growing teams.
Written by Eva Roethler
September 16, 2021Updated: September 16, 2021

A good team is like a carefully crafted recipe. And anyone who has watched a reality baking show knows that even the most artfully concocted recipes can be destroyed by time constraints and bad ingredients. 

Under normal conditions, managers take time to find the right ingredients, or team members, and combine them in a way that produces a pleasant team culture and the desired work outputs. Adding a new person to the mix without proper consideration can throw off the flavor, and rushing the process could ruin it altogether. 

However, sometimes a business is in such high demand that managers have no choice but to lean into their best judgment while scaling at speed. Built In NYC talked to local managers with experience scaling under pressure for insight into their quickly growing teams, and the “aha moments” they’ve had along their upward trajectory.

 

Grant Ammons
Engineering Manager

DigitalOcean is a cloud computing platform.  

 

Tell us a bit about the team that scaled and your role on it. What is its purpose in the larger company, and why did it need to be expanded so quickly?

Site reliability engineering is a team that sits between engineering, infrastructure and operations. We’re tasked with improving the overall operational health of the DigitalOcean production site. We are focused on automating manual work, the measuring and reporting of health metrics, and ensuring that all production services meet a standard bar of operational readiness.

Our current team of five is quite a powerhouse, leading the organization-wide reliability efforts and setting the foundation for how SRE will operate in DigitalOcean in the coming years. There is a growing need across the engineering org to improve efficiency and production reliability, and SRE is here to help teams with both of those efforts. 

It was important for SRE to expand quickly to help achieve success with the current programs underway, and for SRE to support new engineering and infrastructure efforts going forward.

 

What was the process of scaling like, and how long did it take? Were there any hiccups or aha moments to share?

As with all other things SRE works on, we collaborated together to form an efficient hiring pipeline process. We honed our interview kit and questions with the help of our recruiting team. We also created communications to the candidates to ensure they knew what to expect of our hiring process and how to prepare.

There is a take-home assignment part of our interview process, and we ensured that the instructions and what we were looking for were clear. We also created scoring rubrics for the assignment and technical interviews to make our debriefs easier and more consistent. 

After we had those pieces in place, I set the expectations of the team that they’d be interviewing a lot, and we’d need to account for that time.  

The main takeaway we learned is that our hiring process is like any other process — it requires constant evaluation and retrospectives to ensure it is healthy, efficient and productive. We talk frequently about our interview kit and scoring rubrics, and are continually fine-tuning the process to ensure we’re finding the right people for the job, and that candidates have the best experience.

Our hiring process is like any other process — it requires constant evaluation and retrospectives to ensure it is healthy, efficient and productive.”

 

What’s the most exciting project the team will be taking on in the next few months?

We’re excited to start engaging with the systems and infrastructure teams to determine areas of opportunity to help automate and plan when it comes to further strengthening our infrastructure, and that’s something that all parties involved will benefit from.

 

 

Shiri Ronen
VP Customer Success

Yotpo is an e-commerce marketing platform. 

 

Tell us a bit about the team that scaled and your role on it. What is its purpose in the larger company, and why did it need to be expanded so quickly?

Yotpo is a customer-centric company and invests a lot in customers’ experience and growth. The customer success team owns the customer post-sale, from onboarding all the way to renewals and expansion. Over the course of the pandemic, the CS team has had an immense influx of new e-commerce customers. And as a multi-product platform, we saw a lot of our current customers go from using just one of our products to purchasing two or more products. We realized we needed to hire a lot of customer success managers to onboard and manage these new customers, and we had to do it fast before we lost our customer success managers to burnout.

 

What was the process of scaling like, and how long did it take? Were there any hiccups or aha moments to share?

First, we set an aggressive hiring goal: 15 new CSMs in one month. We enhanced our employee referral program significantly, including increased cash payouts and adding incentives like a free day of PTO for each referral hired. We noticed that great candidates could accept competing offers in a week’s time, so we re-evaluated our interview process to be more agile so we could move quickly with our candidates. We also updated our current team members frequently so they knew that we were working to lighten their workloads. All in all, we ended up hiring 23 CSMs in six weeks.

 

What’s the most exciting project the team will be taking on in the next few months?

Austin! We’re excited to finally open a second geographic location in the U.S. — it’ll help our East Coast teams achieve better work-life balance, since Texas is in a different time zone and can handle local accounts. We’re building a brand-new team, opening a new office and planting ourselves in a major tech hub. Our New York team is taking an active role in the interview process to build the Austin team, too, which offers growth opportunities to our current team. Not to mention, we’re also hiring in Australia and encouraging our employees to help us expand there. There’s nobody better than our current team to introduce the Yotpo culture and employee experience to a new global region.

There’s nobody better than our current team to introduce the Yotpo culture and employee experience to a new global region.”

 

 

 

Pawp is a digital health clinic for pets. 

 

Tell us a bit about the team that scaled and your role on it. What is its purpose in the larger company, and why did it need to be expanded so quickly?

My main mission has been to grow and scale the engineering team. Pawp is the first company in the tech space that is employing technology to make pet care more efficient. We’re providing pet parents with access to vet professionals, tools and important data about their pets. I come from a fintech background, so I understand the impact of a good product and a strong engineering team — especially when we’re revolutionizing the pet space. We’re constantly iterating and building new features, which means we need the horsepower to make that mission happen. Our engineering team is the backbone of this company and integral to keeping us at the forefront of the industry.

 

What was the process of scaling like and how long did it take? Were there any hiccups or aha moments to share?

Our scaling process moved very quickly, but also in distinct stages: We began with referrals, tapping into our networks to develop a strong founding team we could both build and rely on. In scaling a team, you should use your favors; you’d be surprised that it’s the right time for them. Then we moved beyond our network, speaking with recruiters and creating listings on various job search engines. And, as always, it’s better to send that cold email or LinkedIn message than never to have spoken to a potential candidate at all. You miss 100 percent of the recruiting shots you don’t take.

When it comes to aha moments in both recruiting and retaining talent, it’s so incredibly important to make sure you are empowering your team along the way. You don’t want to just list a role and its responsibilities; you want a team member to feel ownership of it — to feel like a role is something they can shape and evolve.

 

What’s the most exciting project the team will be taking on in the next few months?

Pawp is leveraging technology to give pets and their parents better, happier, less stressful lives — and the engineering team is really driving that process. The goal is to keep iterating and adding to the Pawp product to meet the growing and changing needs of pets. We plan on bringing more pet professionals onto the platform, allowing our digital clinic and vets to drive product and resource recommendations as they care for pets. We’re expanding our current services and even have a few life-altering product changes the team is working on that will be announced soon. What the team is working on will undoubtedly change the way we take care of our pets, and that’s the most exciting part: We’re dealing with the future of the pet industry here.

What the team is working on will undoubtedly change the way we take care of our pets, and that’s the most exciting part; we’re dealing with the future of the pet industry here.”

 

 

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