Ackama
By Marian Clements

Rapid growth at Rabid

Marian here from Rabidtech to talk about our recent company growth and how we dealt with almost doubling our size in three months. I was part of the group that looked at how we were onboarding our staff and worked to make it better. I’m a developer, but I like having processes so this was something I wanted to help with.

I start working for Rabid in February, and since then we have hired five developers, a designer and an office administrator. All this growth has happened to support our growing business opportunities. The challenge that comes with such rapid growth is inevitable growing pains. We found that our existing buddy system and face to face explanations were no longer sufficient to get new employees onboard and integrated into our company and culture.

As part of managing our growth we hired Amy as our office manager. She was a big help in starting to standardise our processes and made the onboarding process smoother for new hires.

One of my observations is that the enthusiasm for onboarding new people does eventually run out. There is only so much energy you can spend taking people on office tours and setting up dev environments. Eight new people in 12 weeks meant that energy was wearing pretty thin. This led to a discussion about the need to formalise our processes - we needed to document the obvious and capture the gotchas that could send new staff down rabbit holes.

This process involved talking to our existing staff and developing a consensus on what practices we wanted to formalise for adoption. A big part of this was learning from the first few hires to make the experience better each time. It took a couple of meetings to include everyone, but we we were satisfied with the result.

This document was named the Rabid Way, and it meant even our new staff could start training others. This has eased the load on some of our more senior developers and allowed us to keep productivity up during this noticeably turbulent period. In addition, we needed to bring our new people into our company culture.

Rabid culture is great, and each new person has added their own voice. We are fortunate for that, but we have also taken good steps to assist it. We recently completed a two part workshop on communication hosted by Mary O’Keefe. She took us through a range of communication concepts and assumptions to get us all on the same page on many issues. We also have had our quarterly company retro which is a gloves off forum to discuss pain points and problems, as well as celebrate where we are succeeding. These activities gave the new employees a place to voice issues and contribute to our processes going forward. This meant they had an opportunity to shape the Rabid Way instead of simply being assimilated.

This time of rapid company growth has been exciting for us at Rabid and it isn’t finished. The next couple of months will see another project manager and more developers coming onboard as we continue to grow to support our clients. We can now support our growth with a great onboarding process and living documentation.

My next goal is to help with training our new hires and have a curriculum to guide their development, so look forward to hearing from me again soon.

Marian~