Chapter 8. Scaling the Organization: Reporting Structure

Chapters 4 and 5 on scaling people management describe how to identify and train new managers, and Chapters 6 and 7 provide basic approaches for structuring teams. Now it is time to put them together to answer the question, “Who reports to whom?” The answer to this question is what we will call reporting structure.

Although our examples and solutions focus mainly on engineering, where we have most often seen and experienced scaling challenges, they should be equally applicable to other product development functions such as design and product management.

Initial Reporting Structure

Assume you are the newly hired VP of Engineering at a small startup, and you are directly managing roughly 20 engineers. The reporting structure might look something like Figure 8-1.

You quickly realize this structure is not sustainable. You cannot effectively do your job as the head of engineering and also provide the necessary people management to help your reports grow and succeed in their roles. It’s time to change the reporting structure of the team to enable effective people management. See Chapters 4 and 5 for more details on why effective people management is important for your team’s scalability.

But there are a number of options for how to structure your reporting. Let’s say you’ve identified two of the engineers as potential engineering managers. Which engineers will report to which manager? Will it be based on domain expertise, product ...

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