How to expand our workforce from 1 technical 'guru' to a productive team of 6


Like many fellow startups that we know, we've started like with one technical wizard who know a lot of stuff and who knows now where everything is and how it works. The system has undergone a lot of changes in the last 2 years and is now pretty complicated.

We're finding it hard to expand from 1 person to a team because:

- Showing new people where things are is tedious and time-consuming

- Our guru has a lot of standards and 'way of doing things' that new people have to learn and adapt to which takes time.

- Setting up a new technical person takes up valuable time and we already have a lot of other stuff to do for features and bug fixes..

We've looked at several folks and tried a few but we are finding it very hard to both find good people and also transition them to our way of doing things, plus we ourselves find it hard to adapt to different communication routes, personal styles, etc.

What can we do to make this transition and be successful in going from a one person band to a humming team?

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asked May 3 '12 at 06:00
Michael Durrant
227 points

4 Answers


Good question. Sounds to me though that you're trying to have the cake and eat it.

You're recognising the contribution of your tech guru, which is very good, yet you are not willing to really let other people make any contribution and eventually earn the same recognition (and contribute to your company).

It also sounds like you're expecting people to immediately 'get it', and be productive from day one, fit in with your way of doing things. Yet you're not willing to spend the time or effort to let them learn the ropes...

So all in all, I would suggest the following:

  • Allocate enough time and resources to bringing people in. It won't happen overnight, and you won't see an immediate return on this investment, but it will pay off longer term.
  • Accept ideas and feedback from other people. Your way of doing things might be fantastic, but you might still get some good ideas from other people and learn from their experience.
  • Expect to adapt to new people and their ways the same way that you expect them to adapt to yours. It's not a one-way street. Both will benefit from it.
  • Empower your tech-guru - sounds like you already appreciate what they're doing, but make it clear to them that it's their role and responsibility not just to maintain the tech side, but also bringing more people in, and to make sure it's rock solid with more than one person doing everything. They should not feel threatened or forced to accept new people on their turf. They build their own team.

I understand you might be under a lot of pressure, and this seems like a huge task with compromises and risks, but don't forget that the longer you put this off, the worse the situation is likely to be. You'd end up maxing-out your only technical resource. Not to mention the risk to your company if they decide to leave, or god forbid, something happens to them. Make some sacrifices now because you're only likely to save on much bigger sacrifices later.

answered May 3 '12 at 06:41
Yoav Aner
318 points


Company/project management is an abstraction and delegation of resources.

The tech person is responsible for too much. In addition to what's said by Yoav, if your tech person leaves, it sounds like your company will go under.

Manage that risk and start training more tech persons now!

answered May 5 '12 at 01:31
31 points


All that's you need to work on now is hiring an efficient guy who has solid experience in the areas which you are working. Man power hiring is very critical these days. I suggest you try the websites like to advertise your jobs for free. May be you can get some good hires into your team

Disclaimer(i work with Wisestep)

answered May 3 '12 at 18:46
Krishna Reddy
16 points


Were you that one person? Well let me answer anyway.
Good technical developers aren't always good technical leaders and managers. In fact, they're not always good developers where a team will have to work with the code they write. It might work well, but for a company, the code may be the problem.

By hiring 5 more developers and expecting them to do what they can by themselves, you've now got 6 people - all working independently.

Your experience with this proves that good code is not self documenting, at least beyond the code level. When you talk about your company's way of doing things, there is no way unless somebody took the time to write a manual - at least a few pages.

So, how to proceed? It sounds like you need a manager to create your first rules of order. While that may just sound like overhead, it will probably make your 6 developers as productive as 10 - or at least as 6. You will get more for your money with that than with adding another 6 developers. And, you probably can find some good use for a few lower cost individuals to do documentation, testing etc.

But you may also find that some of what has been written is just not good enough for the environment you want, and you may have to do some repair to get everything on track.
Good Luck!

answered May 5 '12 at 03:49
Patrick Ny
300 points

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