Anyone who has experienced managing a team will be familiar with the headaches of growth. One day you have a motivated, tight-knit team perfectly attuned to one another, working purposefully towards a clear goal. The next, everything is falling apart at the seams. And all you did was add a few more people!

I’m exaggerating, but this is sometimes what scaling can feel like if not done right.

As we explained at length in the book, Scaling Teams (written with ), there are two vital parts to ensuring successful scaling. The first is taking a proactive approach to putting…


Additional Resources

Thanks to the suggestion of Pat Kua (https://www.thekua.com/atwork/) we are now collecting all the resources we used to write our book in medium posts for easier access (especially for those, who bought the print version) . We will start with all the links in ‘Additional Resources”, the next post will contain all the links we mentioned in the actual text.

Chapter 1: Scaling Hiring: Growing the Team


For the past two years I was commuting between Berlin (where my family lives) and Copenhagen (where the majority of issuu’s engineers are based). For family reasons I cannot do this amount of traveling anymore. This brings me to the point of this blog post: I am leaving issuu and we are immediately starting the process to find my replacement and this person should be based in Copenhagen. Commuting works only for a limited amount of time, something I realized now.

About issuu

From giants of the publishing industry to art-school graduates seeking a first job, issuu gives anyone with…


“Every minute you save introducing a change you will have to pay back (at least) twice later.” ~ Juergen Allgayer

Leaders in high-growth environments are constantly managing change as the team scales. Some changes are trivial, others are important, with wide-ranging effects. Too often, leaders are so busy that they fool themselves into implementing important changes too quickly: “I can’t spare the time to fully research the alternatives, so let’s just make the change and see what happens.”

What usually happens next? Employees feel left out or disrespected, and you end up spending way more time communicating your reasons for…


Your Engineering Team Is Not an Island: Success Demands a Holistic View of the Business

I just re-read the awesome post from my friends David Loftesness and Raffi Krikorian, What Does A VP of Engineering Do Again? And while I agree with everything that they say, I think there is one crucial item missing, which has been present in every job I’ve had because all of them were user-facing internet services and a majority of my job has been working with product teams. Collaboration with stakeholders (especially with product) is key, but if you take it one step further, a…


You read that 1on1s are a very important meeting for managers, so you schedule them from time to time. Unfortunately there are sometimes big gaps between meetings as you are travelling or busy and you forget to schedule those meetings. When having them you do have a nice talk with your report, where she gives you a long status update, but after a while it feels like no side is getting anything out of these meetings. Then your report quits and mentions that she could not see any development for her role and therefore looked for a new job.

So…


Veröffentlicht am 26. Juli 2015

(TITLE ADAPTED FROM @STARTUPLJACKSON, BUT THEN I DISCOVERED THAT THIS PHRASE IS ACTUALLY MUCH OLDER: HTTPS://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/LIES,_DAMNED_LIES,_AND_STATISTICS)

Does this sound familiar?

The management team sits together and puts everything they can think of on the roadmap for the next quarter. The employees look at it, think ‘This is impossible!’ and after the quarter 15–20% of the roadmap items are actually done. This leaves a bitter feeling in the product teams (“We know it is not realistic, but we haven’t achieved our goals”) and destroys trust in the company’s plans and execution. …


Your engineering team grows and grows. You hire a lot of engineers, the salary you give them is a mix out of what the candidates asked for and your gut feeling. From time to time you increase salaries to equal out the increase in cost of living and sometimes you have to promote someone to a management position and you give her a bigger raise, because it is a bigger responsibility. So all is good, right?

Well, it might be, but chances are, there are problems. See if any of the following points apply to your team:

  • In 1on1s you…


(title adapted from @StartupLJackson, but then I discovered that this phrase is actually much older: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics)

Does this sound familiar?

The management team sits together and puts everything they can think of on the roadmap for the next quarter. The employees look at it, think ‘This is impossible!’ and after the quarter 15–20% of the roadmap items are actually done. This leaves a bitter feeling in the product teams (“We know it is not realistic, but we haven’t achieved our goals”) and destroys trust in the company’s plans and execution. The management team actually put a lot of effort into it (maybe even a two day ‘roadmap workshop’), which feels like waste.

Why does this happen?


Introducing Peer Feedback/Review

Does this sound familiar? You take over an engineering team in a fast growing startup and before you even know what is happening 30 people report to you. You try to do regular 1on1s (even though the scheduling is very tough) and then in those meetings you get asked this very important question:

‘How am I doing?’

So people are asking for feedback (please see link). For this there are three possible answers and only one of them is good:

  1. ‘No Idea’: obviously not the ideal answer, but at least it is honest
  2. ‘I heard…’ probably the…

Alexander Grosse

Director of Engineering @bcgdv, co-author of ‘Scaling Teams’ with @dloft

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