Enemies of Growth

Paulo Moncores

Senior Engineering Manager at Shopify



I often hear people complaining that they need to hire more people. They are quick to conclude that they won’t be able to deliver this or that unless they hire more people. However, those same people would soon complain that they don’t know what to do with the people they recently hired.

Of course, we all aspire to expand the size of our teams and the scope of our product as we continuously grow. But before rushing to add new people we should identify what I call “enemies of growth” -- things that impede growth and that need to be fixed before we do additional hiring.

Actions taken

I identified four “enemies of growth” and came up with a plan on how to fix them.

Underdeveloped leaders
I frequently encounter first-time or less experienced leaders who are very defensive or territorial and it seems that their skills are not on par with the competencies of their counterparts. They fail to be supportive and collaborative and that approach drains existing resources. They should be provided additional training and instructions and encouraged to further improve their skills.

Lack of a solid onboarding process
If your hiring pipeline supplies you continuously with a sufficient number of candidates, you need to have a matching onboarding process in place to accommodate new hires. Often it is easier to set the hiring than the onboarding process and moreover, onboarding itself takes more time. Make sure that hiring is followed by a solid onboarding process that would allow new hires to ramp up quickly.

Complex processes
People tend to stick to complex processes because they believe that those processes are what made them successful. Rather than looking at what made them successful, they should be looking at what will make them successful and bring them to the next level. Be open to review and change your processes if needed. The complexity itself tends to complicate things, is time-consuming, and consequently kills growth.

Getting the best from people
Companies are quick to hire new people while failing to get the best from existing people. For example, they would be getting only 30 percent of the full potential their employees can offer. Once you are able to identify what you are getting from your people and be able to measure it, you should (re-)define your hiring plans.

Lessons learned

Enemies of growth take on many forms and shapes. Our efforts to expand our teams and the scope of our products are often sabotaged by those “enemies”.Whether it is rushing to hire additional manpower or anything else is less relevant than your willingness to understand their root causes. Any growth should be laid on a solid foundation, thought though and pursued without haste and shortcuts.

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Paulo Moncores

Senior Engineering Manager at Shopify

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