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When researching companies on Glassdoor, I often see reviews talking about "growing pains", without specifying what they mean. Is there a consensus on what exactly this means? Or does it just mean whatever you want it to mean? Is it coded language? For what?

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    I hope everyone reading this question who is also posting reviews on glassdoor takes this as feedback that reviews are best when they're specific. Saying an employer has "growing pains" is pretty vague and meaningless. Listing the actual problems lets people decide if they think those things are good or bad, for themselves. One person's "growing pains" may be someone else's "opportunities." – dwizum Jun 28 '19 at 13:11
  • You'll definitely need additional context of what other people say to be clear. It can mean everything from "it took 2 weeks to get my computer when I first joined" to "they hired too many people and so they've been cutting hours and/or paychecks have been late because they have trouble making payroll" to "the company made so much money they don't know what to do with it and real work is hard to find". Heck, civil wars can be described as "growing pains"! – BrianH Jun 28 '19 at 13:57
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The "growing pains" refers to the instability that comes with rapid growth. This is common in startups in their growth phases or monetization phases or really any phase. Examples being:

  • The company hires a lot of people and has troubling onboarding and absorbing them into the teams. You may also start to see overlaps in responsibilities of team and skills. Senior leadership may be jockeying for power or executing hostile land grabs.
  • You'll likely see a lot of experimentation and pivoting of the company's position or products. The exact direction of the company might very unclear.
  • You may see reshuffling of senior leadership.

The bottom line is if you're someone who values stability and predicability, that company doesn't seem like a great fit for you. On the other hand, if you like dealing with the unknown and enjoy experimentation in your work, you'll like the company.

  • Slightly smaller scale, growing pains can also apply to cases where a non-insignificant portion of the employees is new and e.g. unable to answer specific questions or works slower due to still learning the ropes. – Flater Jun 28 '19 at 8:38
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A company may be experiencing "growing pains" if they're expanding - the exact pains may vary, but usually it's because they've rapidly grown their team and/or customer base, and are trying to adapt to this growth.

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That term can also mean issues coming due to planned expansion, for example.

This can be budget constraints,

or equipment replacement being put on hold while the planned expansion is completed (perhaps the labor needed is transferred from x to y...)

or labor replacement is on hold or new staff go automatically to the new project and existing ones have to wait...

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As others said growing pain usually refers to the sudden expansion of either employees, products, services, or company size.

There are risks vs rewards. Risk is you go into a unstable position but on top of that if the product fails, your job position might be at risk. Would you be shifted or just laid off? Hard to say without seeing the Glassdoor review.

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