Growing Pains Don’t Have to Be Part of the Scaling Process

These companies manage, mitigate and eliminate growing pains.
Written by Michael Hines
May 17, 2022Updated: May 17, 2022

Want to hear a secret? Growing pains don’t actually have to be part of the scaling process. 

The idea that tech workers will inevitably be victims of their own success has some truth, as bringing on more customers in a short amount of time and onboarding a lot of new hires to help deal with said influx of customers creates more work. However, growing pains can be managed, mitigated and in some instances even eliminated by forward-thinking leaders who understand the human challenges rapid scaling creates.

At marketing agency Techint Labs, smooth scaling was the result of better understanding where employees spend their time, how they could be more efficient and what workload increase necessitated hiring. Cybersecurity company LogRhythm ensures its engineering team remains bought-in and focused by communicating the “why” and “how” behind the changes rapid scaling introduces — as well as the hiring it necessitates. Collegiate hiring platform Handshake puts a major emphasis on making sure scaling leads to opportunities to take on more responsibilities and not just more work.

No company has scaling fully figured out, but these three Colorado companies and a handful of others are actively working to reach that point. Better yet, they’re all hiring. So if you’re looking to join a rocket ship that won’t make you sick during takeoff then continue reading.



When it comes to scaling successfully, Adam Lee, CEO of the full-service marketing agency Techint Labs, recommends taking a people-first approach. At Techint, doing so has entailed a great deal of work, specifically around redesigning workflows for efficiency, ramping up hiring roadmaps and rounding out professional development opportunities.


What’s the biggest challenge your team faced as Techint Labs scaled? And how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges we faced was figuring out how to properly staff and configure. As a small but rapidly growing business, we need to remain nimble and shouldn’t overcommit expenses. At the same time, our people are our biggest asset, and the last thing we want to do is crush them. Being overworked combined with a clunky workflow hurts both the employee and end product, so we had to figure out how to properly forecast our business and corresponding work to ensure we stayed three months ahead of staffing needs. 

First, we took a deep dive into where our team was spending their time. Next, we looked at our company structure. We segmented our business based on type of work and immediately saw improvements in how our team spent their time, workflow velocity and quality of work. This exercise also gave us data on the amount of time we spend on certain types of work and allowed us to make hires that we know we will need in 90 days based on upcoming projects.


What’s been your “secret weapon” when it comes to scaling successfully?

Keeping our people first no matter the situation. If we allow our team to think on their own, provide a healthy workplace with plenty of career opportunities and treat them like the wonderful humans they are, the work will take care of itself. This is non-negotiable and will remain a staple as long as we are in business. This core tenet has also helped us scale at the rate we have.

When your revenue and workload is multiplying quickly, you have a unique opportunity to entrust your team with new responsibilities. In some cases, that incremental responsibility is brand new to people. If we give them the support they need, the ability to fail and proper coaching, employees develop at hyper speed. This makes business sense, too. As you promote from within, you have people with deep institutional knowledge with decision-making power. Better decisions are made, output velocity increases and turnover is reduced; keeping things stable. Everybody wins.

We are focused on building a business that aligns perfectly with client needs.”


Looking ahead, what will growth look like for your team?

Growth will be concerted but will not slow down. We are extremely focused on building a business that fits our team and company objectives and aligns perfectly with client needs. What we are offering our clients is resonating in a big way, and we know that delivering what we promise is the key to sustained growth. Therefore, we must have the proper team and tools in place at all times. We are investing heavily in research, planning, data analysis, client service and digital operations to ensure our execution exceeds expectations.



Mykaela Doane
Head of People and Talent



It’s easy to lose sight of the importance of a focused onboarding program during rapid scaling. Even the most people-first companies can fall victim to the desire to get butts in chairs as fast as possible. Accelerating the onboarding process can actually slow new hires down, though, as they struggle to understand what they should be doing first and why. 

Mykaela Doane, head of people and talent at OKR management platform Gtmhub, said her company was able to accelerate hiring after it redesigned its onboarding program with a focus on asynchronicity, flexibility and interactivity.


What’s the biggest challenge your team faced as the company scaled? And how did you overcome it?

We tripled headcount just last year, going from 80 to 250 employees, and one of the biggest challenges we faced was our lack of a strong, consistent onboarding program. We had team members joining without a clear path to success. Also, as a heavily remote company in hyper-growth mode, onboarding needed to be asynchronous and flexible. At the same time, it also needed to be engaging, interactive and welcoming. And with a massive hiring push already in progress, we needed it done fast.

We ended up creating a clear, focused two-week program that’s a mix of video and written content with a heavy dose of interactivity in the form of quizzes, flip cards, video and writing response prompts, checklists and more. Of course, we wanted to ensure our new joiners had a warm welcome and a chance to meet the team, so we created a cohort onboarding session program involving most of our executive leadership team as well as functional groups and onboarding buddy pairings. It’s been critical in our scaling journey.


What’s been your “secret weapon” when it comes to scaling successfully?

Besides our onboarding program, our secret weapon has been how we use OKRs. One of the biggest challenges when scaling is getting everyone up to speed, aligned and focused on the right things from the get go. Without a clear structure to define what’s important, what moves the needle and what are we driving toward, new joiners can get lost. This results in time, effort and momentum wasted on things that are low impact or low priority and in the worst case, both.

A big part of our onboarding is aligning new joiners to our outcome-driven culture and how we do OKRs. To help folks acclimate, we include OKRs in our onboarding, and team members own an OKR from the jump. Some keep it training-focused while others stretch and set out to achieve key outcomes early on. We’ve seen some incredible early wins as a result.

Besides our onboarding program, our secret weapon has been how we use OKRs.”


Looking ahead, what will growth look like for your team?

We continue to scale rapidly and are looking to double headcount in 2022, adding over 100 team members from now through the end of the year. Our sales, customer/technical success, product, design and marketing teams are growing especially quickly across the United States and Europe.




Ariana Moon
Director of Talent Acquisition


Hiring software company Greenhouse faces the same fierce fight for talent as any other company. Ariana Moon, director of talent acquisition, told Built In that the fight for talent acquisition talent was especially fierce last year. Moon said she had to be transparent about her team’s need for help and open to experimenting with new recruiting and staffing methods.


What’s the biggest challenge your team faced as Greenhouse scaled? And how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge in the past year was scaling the talent acquisition team fast enough to support a hiring goal that had unexpectedly tripled throughout 2021. We were in one of the toughest markets for TA talent as so many companies scrambled to restaff recruiting teams. It was clear we wouldn’t be able to deliver if TA operated the way we always had, which led to new ways of thinking. 

First, I looked around the organiztion and asked for help, which meant promoting a culture of hiring and having our hiring teams help with sourcing and screening so that limited recruiter bandwidth wasn’t a bottleneck at the top of the funnel. Second, we experimented with new ways of conducting searches and launched a self-service model where hiring managers ran searches without a dedicated recruiter. Lastly, we explored more immediate ways to expand capacity than hiring full-time staff and brought on contractors. We also took on new partnerships, especially with organizations that helped diversify pipelines.


What’s been your “secret weapon” when it comes to scaling successfully? 

The most impactful initiative we launched is what we call “internal operating reviews,” a monthly meeting between myself and the C-suite. In it, I provide an overview of how talent acquisition is performing against what the business is asking for, which includes where we’re investing our capacity, why we’re prioritizing what we’re prioritizing, as well as any challenges on the market where we need an executive perspective on how to respond. 

A lot of the angst at the start of 2021 was around not having visibility into what TA had the ability to do given that everyone suddenly had hiring needs. Internal operating reviews gave our departmental stakeholders visibility into exactly that. It also shined light on areas TA was outperforming in, including hires per recruiter and increased diversity of new hires. This led to increased alignment across the business on what the most important thing to tackle was at what point in time, making it easier for my recruiters.

A well-resourced and strategic talent acquisition team is absolutely key to business success.”


Looking ahead, what will growth look like for your team? 

On the TA side, we’re now a global team distributed across four to five time zones, and we’re the best set up for success we’ve ever been in terms of meeting ongoing hiring needs. Now, it’s about making sure we have the right enablement programs, performance metrics and operational chops in place to continue elevating our processes and output as a team. A well-resourced and strategic TA team is absolutely key to business success, and continuing to iterate on how you do things to do them better — not just throwing headcount at a problem — is a must-have at this point of scale.



Mike Dalgleish
VP, Field Engineering & Partner Strategy


Scaling is often the result of hardworking teams that outperform expectations. Given that fact,  it makes sense to hire people to give these small but mighty teams some extra support during periods of rapid growth. People are sometimes reluctant to stop doing what they’re good at, though, especially if it’s led to success.

This is why Mike Dalgleish, VP of field engineering and partner strategy at cybersecurity company LogRhythm, makes sure to extensively communicate the benefits of offloading tasks to his team as new hires are made.


What’s the biggest challenge your team faced as the company scaled? And how did you overcome it?

Ownership. LogRhythm has thrived due to our culture of high performance and the natural pride our team members take in mastering their roles. With that mastery comes a strong sense of ownership. As you scale, you must increase capacity. Increased capacity results in shifting ownership to newer hires and more specialized job functions. This requires very nuanced coaching with veteran team members with a focus on open communication and conversation around the individual and organizational benefits of moving specialized tasks to newer members of the team.

Open, honest and continuous communication is key to helping veteran team members deal with expansion and growth.”


What’s been your “secret weapon” when it comes to scaling successfully?

Open, honest and continuous communication is key to helping veteran team members deal with expansion and growth. As an example, for years our field account managers learned, massaged and mastered using our order quoting system in Salesforce. They understood the nuances of discounting, how different SKUs affected overall pricing and how automated discounts impacted discretionary discounts. As we grew, we realized our field account managers spent an inordinate amount of time working in the quoting tool instead of meeting, speaking and working with prospects and partners. 

We began building a deal desk team so they could spend more time with customers and prospects. After a full quarter of trials, we had 100 percent adherence to the new workflow.  After another quarter, every sales region used the deal desk in almost every quote, enabling veteran and new account managers to spend more time with customers and prospects.


Looking ahead, what will growth look like for your team?

We have new products coming soon that will redefine the landscape in our space and new leaders who have transformed other organizations in the past through a customer-first approach and mindset. We have a phenomenal mix of veteran account managers who have decades of expertise and young, hungry new salespeople who have the energy, passion and exuberance to go above and beyond. We have fantastic business partners who wrap exceptional services around our platform and provide white-glove care and service to our customers. 



Robin Lim
Senior Director, Engineering


Robin Lim is the senior director of engineering at Handshake, a platform that helps college students find their first career. A big part of finding that perfect first job is networking, and Lim said networking within Handshake has been his secret weapon to ensuring his team has been able to scale successfully.


What’s the biggest challenge your team faced as Handshake scaled? And how did you overcome it?

The most challenging part about scaling a company is making sure that individuals are scaling. If you’re part of a rapidly-growing company, one day you may be an engineer and the next you’re an engineering manager. You’ll see this in non-management and leadership roles alike. As an individual contributor engineer, you may need to scale your team by dedicating your time to mentorship and pairing rather than banging out code. I started here managing a team of five, and four-and-a-half years later, my org consists of 85 people. Throughout my journey I often found myself completely overwhelmed with the amount of work. 

Those days would trigger a self-reflection on my to-do list. I would ask questions like, “Am I still the right person to do ‘X’ task and if not, who is,” along with, “If I delegate this task, what will it free me up to do?” This self-reflection helped me think through how to better delegate work to ensure that I’m focused on the right things and ultimately scale myself. By coaching my team to think about the same things, I am not only scaling myself but we as a team are scaling the organization.

The most challenging part about scaling a company is making sure that individuals are scaling.”


What’s been your “secret weapon” when it comes to scaling successfully?

My secret weapon is building deep relationships. I always spend a bit of time in recurring one-on-ones getting to know people beyond their work life. This relationship-building takes time but pays off in the long run. People will feel more open talking to you about what issues their teams are running into or telling you about some weird rumor swirling around. All of this is useful information to identify what issues are happening around the organization.

I personally take pride in my managers’ meeting at the end of the week. I feel like my managers and I have built up a great rapport such that we can have a psychologically safe discussion about our highlights, lowlights and issues. I get a lot out of understanding their sentiments and taking action where I see problems.


Looking ahead, what will growth look like for your team?

We’ve doubled the headcount of our engineering organization every year and don’t plan to slow down. As a startup, we have very much focused on product engineering growth the past few years. As our product footprint has grown, we have seen the need for more horizontal teams to scale our architecture. We are currently focused heavily on building out SRE, infrastructure, data engineering and platform engineering teams. 



Eric Loes
Vice President of Software Engineering


Eric Loes is the VP of software engineering at VIZIO and he is currently hiring senior software engineers for his cloud services team. While communication skills are always highly valued, Loes said he places an extra emphasis on them as he believes good communication is critical to scaling successfully. Here’s why.


What’s the biggest challenge your team faced as the company scaled? And how did you overcome it?

As VIZIO continues to grow its software teams, our major challenge has been standardizing processes and communication. As little as a year ago, you could easily get on a call with stakeholders and align execution. However, as we continue to grow, that method is not as reliable. Embracing process standardization across the entire company has been key to ensuring correct communication and alignment and executing our overall roadmap and vision.

We successfully scale by hiring team members who will make the extra effort to ensure there is visibility and accountability.”


What’s been your “secret weapon” when it comes to scaling successfully?

As VIZIO continues to grow, I’ve asked my teams during interviews to put an emphasis on communication skills. It’s vital that we are good communicators in key roles as we continue to build our teams and standardize our processes and communications. In essence, we successfully scale by hiring team members who will make the extra effort to ensure there is visibility and accountability.


Looking ahead, what will growth look like for your team?

We continue to invest in our overall product and in building new features for our customers. To achieve our goals, we are actively and strategically continuing to grow our teams! My cloud services team is looking for senior software engineers to continue developing features within our voice infrastructure, including those with IoT experience. It’s an amazing opportunity to have a direct impact on VIZIO customers in delivering new features that leverage voice commands.



Chris Marshall
Director of Onboarding - Americas


Like many in tech, Chris Marshall was able to keep his small team at FareHarbor –– which makes booking software for tour operators –– organized using spreadsheets and word documents. This was back in 2015, though, and Marshall said the limitations of this approach quickly became apparent as FareHarbor scaled. 

The director of onboarding for the Americas said that when it came to picking a recruiting software, his goal wasn’t just to hire quickly. It was also to find a platform that helped remove bias from the process.


What’s the biggest challenge your team faced as FareHarbor scaled? And how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge the onboarding department faced was staying organized. Early on when we only hired a few people at a time, it was possible to accomplish our hiring goals without a set strategy, platform or data. All of our team members could easily participate in the process and collaborate on decisions. As we scaled, this didn’t work. 

We struggled using spreadsheets and Word docs and realized there was a need for a standardized approach that removed bias and allowed us to hire swiftly and effectively. First, we began using a new applicant tracking system, Greenhouse. This allowed us to implement scorecards and standardize our interview process and feedback. We also trained interviewers on best practices to eliminate bias and successfully find and hire talented, motivated people. What once felt impossible became simple overnight as we hired groups of five to eight onboarders per month while the company hired almost 200 global team members in 2021.

In the last year, we’ve grown our leadership team by 50 percent.”


What’s been your “secret weapon” when it comes to scaling successfully?

Dedicating substantial time to defining the competencies, qualifications and responsibilities for each role on our onboarding team and then continuing to update this as our team and team needs evolved. This empowered our recruitment team to not only source and engage top talent in Denver but to also have specific qualities and past experiences in mind while building prospect pipelines. 

When we met prospective candidates face-to-face or virtually, we were confident they knew the role well and were already great potential fits after our recruiter screenings. This cut down the amount of time it took to make decisions and send out offers. Our 2021 and 2022 hires — some 35 in total — are not only some of the best in tech but are also invested in the work of onboarding at FareHarbor. They are both good at their jobs and excited about the role.


Looking ahead, what will growth look like for your team?

We expect to invest heavily in leadership and specialized roles, which is an exciting extension of the lateral and vertical movements we’ve seen on the team in the past 18 months. In the last year, we’ve grown our leadership team by 50 percent. This ramp in managers and team leads reflects the continued growth of our department and FareHarbor’s investment in leadership development. As an added win, hiring fantastic leaders equates to even better hiring in other roles. 



Trent Wahlfeldt
VP, Client Services, Agency


Trent Wahlfeldt knows that the bigger a company gets the harder it can be for individuals to see the impact of their work. Wahlfeldt is VP of client services, agency at Magnite, which he joined through an acquisition. As a result of this sudden scaling, Wahlfedlt said he doubled down on recognition to ensure his team stayed focused as the scope of their work increased.


What’s the biggest challenge your team faced as the company scaled? And how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge we’ve faced was aligning processes and teams that were brought together through multiple acquisitions. The benefit of that process is that we’ve introduced new ideas and worked together to find the best path forward. All of our teams are striving toward common goals, including prioritizing our clients’ needs. As the business grows, our exemplary client experience and service will continue to be the foundation of our success.


What’s been your “secret weapon” when it comes to scaling successfully?

The key to scaling successfully is celebrating and recognizing wins. For instance, in team projects or initiatives with a long lead time, it can be easy to get sidetracked and lose focus. Showcasing wins and milestones along the way is important to keeping teams focused and engaged in accomplishing goals that scale together. We have a “wins of the week” recap that is circulated every Friday to show all the great progress happening across the company globally.

The key to scaling successfully is celebrating and recognizing wins.”


Looking ahead, what will growth look like for your team?

Growth within client services focuses on investing in our people and contributing to the larger company culture. There is an emphasis on remaining flexible to support various teams, which includes aligning with product strategy, continued partnership with the revenue team and the evolving nature of operational needs. Open communication with groups that surround client services is key and diversifies skill sets across the team. The Magnite client services and operations teams are growing in 2022 and there are a lot of open opportunities.



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