I'm the admin assistant of the CTO and our organization has recently experienced a lot of growth. Within six months, we have merged with another organization and our Dev team has grown from 8 to 16, with another 8 people in QA.

What we're dealing with now is a highly technical individual, with little patience, managing a much larger team than he's accustomed to, 40% of which is junior as well as an increase in the number of projects. Needless to say, my boss is being pulled in too many directions at once. How can I help him manage his workload and his team so that the team feels they're getting enough help and support and remain effective? Also, where can I find additional resources on managing a growing team?


With a somewhat significant grows in a short time, I would expect the number of non-technical decisions that your boss is expected to make to grow out of proportion. Simply tracking the progress and managing roadblocks may become a challenge. Technical people often view their non-technical tasks as non-productive, trying to minimize them.

This is where your help may come in handy: ask your boss which non-technical tasks cause him the most pain, and see if you can take them on. In my experience, a lot of administrative tasks can be greatly simplified with the right process. For example, progress tracking can be simplified if you ask the team to e-mail you a single line describing what they did today, and then you compose the replies in a format that your boss finds convenient.

Tracking key metrics of the project may be another helpful thing: technical managers often rely on a set of measurable items about a project to guide their decisions. For example, one of my bosses tracked weekly number of unit tests, number of new bugs, number of fixed bugs by category, the number of feature requests completed, and the number of coding violations reported by the nightly process. You can collect the inputs, and prepare these metrics for your boss.

Your boss should be careful about creating too much process, though, because asking the team to follow a lot of new process may be counterproductive.

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At 16 people + 8 QA, it's no longer a team, you have made the transition to a big "small organization". These don't work for very long. You need to transition quickly to a small "big organization". The important difference is how they are managed, reporting structures, responsibilities and authorities.

Your boss is probably still trying to manage as if it were a single team with him at the helm, when he should be managing the business and letting team leads manage the teams.

This is not a uniquely software development problem. Better places to start are books on managing (particularly growth), business schools etc. You boss is no longer in a role that is primarily technical, and if he thinks he is, the management is not being done, and if he wants to remain technical, he should recruit a manager.

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