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Lessons learned from scaling Stripe’s engineering team.

By John Lafleur 3 minutes read

TL;DR: Some great insights in the lessons learned from scaling Stripe’s engineering team. How you scale your team has an enormous impact on your #culture, productivity, and employee engagement, and subsequently the success of the business.

Recruiting and hiring

Continuously evolve your process

  • Define a recruiting plan to meet organizational needs
  • Build consistency into your recruiting process to ensure efficiency and fairness
  • Never lose sight of candidate experience: no matter the outcome, you should leave a positive impression of your company and team
  • Revisit your recruiting process on a regular basis to measure progress and make changes as needed

Build a consistent recruiting platform

  • Document your recruiting practices to ensure your team uses a consistent process.
  • We standardize questions using written rubrics that define exactly how to run each interview
  • we began unconscious bias training to maintain consistency and objectivity.

Define clear hiring goals and effective processes

Clear goals enable you to measure success and make the right changes to your process when needed. If you rely primarily on a passive funnel of inbound applicants and referrals, you can end up hiring whoever walks through the door rather than who you really need right now.

Create a great candidate experience

Tips and tricks:

  • Write rubrics for your most commonly asked interview questions and integrate them into your applicant tracking system.
  • Write and share an interview prep guide with incoming candidates.
  • Setup a quick survey to learn about the interview experience and ways to improve it.

Training and onboarding

Spin up your new hires effectively

Growing teams work incredibly hard to hire new employees, but can overlook helping new teammates succeed once they start. Joining a high-growth startup can be an intimidating experience, and without guidance, new hires have to work twice as hard to learn what they need to be productive.

Invest in dedicated training and onboarding programs

The first few months are critical for new hires. Asking an engineer to build a feature in their first week is tempting, but investing in onboarding and training makes for happier and more productive teammates. For all new employees, we developed Stripe 101: a general onboarding program that connects new hires across the company. Stripe 101 is a positive experience and extraordinarily effective in sharing key information with them:

  • 100% of new Stripe employees were able to summarize the function of at least three Stripe products by the end of Stripe 101.
  • 94.5% of new Stripe employees felt their first week at Stripe was a positive experience and felt the 101 curriculum was an effective use of time.
  • 90% of new Stripe engineers understood the components of the Stripe stack by the end of the program.

Don’t forget about soft skills and culture

Engineering teams provide specialized guides for specific tools (e.g. GitHub or JIRA) or common practices like code review. These act as a source of truth and allow teams to collaboratively agree on their processes upfront, reducing ongoing debate or confusion. Self-serve documentation also decreases our reliance on oral tradition, helping us scale more quickly.

Engagement and retention

Invest in the team you have

Employee happiness often depends on two factors: whether they know the impact of their work and feel autonomy in the decisions they make every day.

Don’t mistake productivity for engagement

People stay engaged when they feel a personal sense of growth, and you can support this by looking beyond day-to-day productivity and asking the right questions. Twice a year, we send out an employee survey called StripeSat to measure engagement.

Create supported paths for mobility and learning

Helping people discover new opportunities and create independent projects enables them to shape their story and role at the company. At Stripe, we create internal resources to advertise new teams, encourage employees to rotate onto new projects, and run hackathons to foster creativity.

Ask for feedback and respond to it

As companies grow, responding to employee feedback requires both a scalable approach and listening carefully to individuals. Employees recognize problems at companies all the time, but don’t always know how to translate what they’re seeing into effective change.
 

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