Giving Up Control Over Smaller Projects

After you started your own company and grew enough to hire more people, was it hard to give up control over smaller projects?

There are actually different combinations depending on the:

  • Culture of the company
  • Business model
  • Personality of the founder

Some are easy-going, running on autopilot (turnkey), or don’t require that much coordination.

Giving Up Control Over Smaller Projects

How Was It Like Before?

For me, it was complicated.

I didn’t give up any control over the first 10–12 people.

I kept coordinating daily during sprints, conducting code reviews, assessing weekly agendas and making sure we’re on track. Most of our first hires were less experienced, 2–4 years of experience, thus limited management and process planning know-how.

They were capable of delivering the work. But quality lacked the final touches. Making sure that progress happens according to the time frame was a system of reminders and meetings.

Later on, hiring coordinators and more senior folks, documentation wasn’t up to date. Bringing experience from former companies didn’t directly map to our workflows.

First Few People

The system worked primarily due to the first few people who stuck with us for several years. Early members were intimately familiar with the life cycle of the company, known challenges we’ve faced, and the mechanics of the job.

One of them is now our CTO, the other is our creative lead managing design and front-end folks, and the third one is the QA chieftain.

Since we’ve been together for years now (5+, with the CTO since the very beginning), I trust them to make the right decisions and handle various initiatives, some important, some internal.

Job longevity is now a critical factor for us. Project owners are appointed after at least 12–18 months in. Additional responsibility comes in before the end of year three. My top goal lately is retaining team members for at least 4 years.

Full productivity is reached at the end of the third year (backed by several other studies) and anything under doesn’t cover the full scope of activities one can take over.

Retention and Purposefulness

So it’s about retention and purposefulness. Once we have that, people take their job seriously, commit to undertaking responsibility and find joy in hitting milestones and delivering work for awesome clients.

Upon completing two or three projects together, I reduce the supervision gradually and leave it to weekly sprints or reviews when deadlines are approaching.