As Development and Fundraising teams become more successful, many are lucky enough to start growing their teams. However, there are hidden consequences to an expanding team. What lessons can leaders learn to prepare?
When Julie Zhuo, Facebook’s vice president of design, first began managing a team, it consisted of just a handful of people. When a new designer joined their merry band, it was a momentous event.
“Everyone loved sitting down and showing her how we worked —where we kept our design files, what tools to download, which meetings to attend. We were grateful that someone else had come to help us accomplish more together. Two pizzas were still enough to feed everyone.
“A few months later, another person would join. And another. And another. Each time, new faces were introduced to the current team and our existing processes.
“Everything seemed to be going smoothly. Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, I realized that the old way of doing things was no longer working. The turning point was walking into a design critique and noticing that our regular room didn’t have enough seats for everyone. We found more chairs, but 10 people wanted to share their projects — and we only had time for five or six.
“Meanwhile, my own days were getting squeezed. There were more unexpected issues, more announcements to communicate, more decisions to keep track of. This pattern kept repeating itself. As soon as I figured out a better process, a few more people would join and the gears would get clogged once more. The only way to stay effective was to constantly change and adapt.
“At each of these points, I felt like I had an entirely different job. While the core principles of management stayed the same, the day-to-day changed significantly.
In this blog on Harvard’s Business Review, Julie reflects on how her job changed and points out the five most striking contrasts between managing small and large teams.