Being a successful product leader is essential for companies and startups, as it can provide guidance and structure to the product development process. This is especially true when scaling up a team, as managing too many direct reports can lead to managerial difficulties. However, with the right product leadership in place, companies can avoid these issues and increase their chances of success. Let’s take a look at what Derek, the Head of Product at a Series A startup, should consider when planning to double his team size in the coming year.
Derek recently asked a group of experienced professionals for advice on how best to manage his expected growth. Zachary Cohn suggested that Derek hire or promote for Director roles now-ish — before expanding too far — as it would give him more control over his team’s direction and make sure everyone was aligned on the same goals. Gerald Rousselle further suggested that Derek should not have more than 8 direct reports due to managerial difficulties that could arise if he had more. Jules Barker was able to offer their own experience with adding team leadership roles — they found it beneficial in terms of delegating tasks and helping them stay focused on their role as Head of Product. Finally, Josh advised Derek to consider whether it would be better for him to manage all four departments himself or hire someone senior who could help with the increased workload. He also noted that there are pros and cons associated with both approaches.
Conclusion: When scaling up a product team, having competent product leadership is essential for avoiding managerial difficulties down the line. As Derek plans to double headcount in the next year, he has received valuable advice from experienced professionals such as Zachary Cohn, Gerald Rousselle, Jules Barker, and Josh. Cohn suggested hiring or promoting for Director roles now-ish while Rousselle recommended limiting himself to eight direct reports at most. Barker provided insight into their own experience with adding team leadership roles while Josh offered considerations between managing all four departments himself versus hiring someone senior who could help with the increased workload. Ultimately, each company’s situation is different so it’s important for founders and CEOs like Derek to weigh all options carefully before making decisions about how best to move forward with their teams.