Back to resources

When More Engineers Means Decreased Productivity

Dev Processes
Collaboration
Productivity
Team Processes

7 June, 2018

Sean Fannan

Sean Fannan

Co-founder and CTO at Chartboost

Sean Fannan talks about how his company’s productivity initially actually decreased when they went from two to six engineers.

Problem

When we first started Chartboost, before we raised money, the whole company consisted of just me and another engineer. We were knee-deep in coding and building things and were incredibly busy. Once we raised money, we were able to hire engineers, so we went from a team of two people to a team of six. It was much more challenging to have a team of six people be as productive as a team of two.

Actions taken

It took about six months to get to a point where our team of six people was as productive as we had previously been. This seems really counter-intuitive. Surely, adding more smart, talented people to the team would increase productivity. However, the process of running a team of six is so different from having just one other person working beside you.
When you are only working with one other person, you tend to already be aligned, just by the nature of your dynamic. With six people, it's more difficult to ensure that everyone in the team has a full picture of what is going on. It's important to add more structure when this happens and to ensure that people own tasks and projects. By the time we had grown to a six-person team, we had built quite a few things. Not everyone on the team could be a pro at every single thing we had built, so we had to spend time working out who was good at what, and who was okay at what (but could act as a backup).

Lessons learned

Adding more people to your team doesn't always translate to increased efficiency. There will always be growth milestones that completely change the way you have to work. When going from six to 15 people, we faced a new set of challenges, and the same happened when going from 15 to 40 people. As you grow, how you structure your team has to be constantly adjusted and reenvisioned.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

How to Organize, Manage, and Grow Your Team

12 July

Vineet Puranik, Senior Engineering Manager at DocuSign, discusses the impact of roadmaps, organization, and proper management for your teams to procure growth.

Managing Expectations
Delegate
Collaboration
Roadmap
Strategy
Vineet Puranik

Vineet Puranik

Senior Engineering Manager at DocuSign

How to Navigate Your Manager Role at a New Company

1 July

Saikrishna Desaraju, Engineering Manager at Marks & Spencer, draws from his personal experience to advise new managers on thriving in their roles.

Managing Up
Managing Expectations
Leadership
Collaboration
New Manager Of Manager
Changing Company
Saikrishna Desaraju

Saikrishna Desaraju

Engineering Manager at Marks and Spencer

Team Development Framework for new managers

26 June

Individual Contributors are familiar with a technical development framework that helps them with building products. Managers, especially new managers can leverage a parallel framework to help them build their teams while drawing analogies from an already familiar framework.

Building A Team
Team Processes
New Manager
Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Sr Engineering Manager at Instacart

Dealing with Uncertainties and Adapting as You Go

14 June

Muhammad Hamada, Engineering Manager at HelloFresh, addresses the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, how these have affected our work environments, and how we can adapt.

Goal Setting
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Roadmap
Stakeholders
Prioritization
Muhammad Hamada

Muhammad Hamada

Engineering Manager at HelloFresh

Promoting Interdepartmental Teamwork for More Efficient Problem-Solving

13 June

Roland Fiala, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Productsup, raises an interesting issue about autonomy in teams: does it hinder collaboration opportunities that lead to better problem-solving? He shares his system for promoting teamwork in engineering departments.

Internal Communication
Collaboration
Roadmap
Team Processes
Cross-Functional Collaboration
Roland Fiala

Roland Fiala

Senior Vice President of Engineering at Productsup