Over the last few years, “HR” has been going through a transformation and most companies, especially start-ups, see the importance of the right team, the right culture, and how HR for start-ups can help drive a business’s ability to grow and succeed.
No longer does HR have to be police you need onsite to make sure you don’t get sued or paying people correctly. We can help your bottom line by making sure you hire the right people at the right time and retain the people you don’t want to lose. And that’s just one example!
However, the question of when and how do I start working with HR as a start-up still comes up, and rightfully so.
You have a narrow focus on figuring out your product, market-fit, and maintaining a healthy (or any) cash balance. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can, and should, partner with HR at the early stages of your company.
Below are some key ways HR can help you grow your business, even from day one.
Key ways HR can help you grow your business
1. Setting the foundation for your culture.
Even if you are just five people, it’s important to start to lay the foundation of what you want your culture (and values!) to be.
Are you open and transparent? Do you need to keep your teams to be more siloed due to security compliance, client non-competes, or data protection?.
Do you expect your team to solve their own problems or will leadership be driving the solutions?
There is no right or wrong answer, as long as you are creating a culture of inclusion, safety, and respect. But those examples I listed above are very different and will drive how you communicate, make decisions, the profile you will want to hire, and determine other employee experiences.
So it’s important to identify it early on in your business’s maturity.
2. Making sure you have the right people at the right time.
One of the most common conversations I have with CEOs is about when and how to grow their teams.
We talk through when to add a layer of managers, when to bring in experts versus generalists, and when to hire more experienced people versus more junior people.
Then how do you retain the best people, the key people to the organization, and on the flip side, when to help people realize it’s time to move on. Someone like myself can help you whiteboard your team structure based on where you are today and where you think you will be in six months to a year.
Think of it like a product roadmap but for your people.
These are all strategic talent conversions that someone who has built and scaled organizations can help you think through.
3. Coaching your team through change.
Good, bad, or indifferent, change happens nonstop at a start-up and it can be exhausting for your team. Communication is key during this time.
Who knows what and when? Have you explained the “why” enough and the data that drove the decision? Do managers have the details of how it will directly impact their team (the ones in the weeds)?
An HR expert can help you think through these moments, help with the talking points and help the team through the change.
They can even be a confidant for team members to share their questions and concerns to help coach you ahead of the next change event.
Just because change is inevitable in start-ups, the communication to your team deserves the same attention I know you give to your board and investors during those times.
Taking long to think ‘HR’ – then what?
If you wait too long before you start to consider ways HR can work with your company two things may happen.
- When HR does show up, some early members of your team may see it as a sign that you are no longer a startup, that you are becoming “corporate” and it’s not the same company they joined.
- Or it’s because something went wrong (think the early days of Uber) and HR is brought in to fix it. Then it’s really hard to change the perception of HR from parent and police to partner and coach. I’m guessing you have worked with an accountant or someone in finance from the beginning to make sure you are starting with the right foundation, why would HR be any different?
The critical thing to remember is that just like any other area of your business in the early stages ..
You don’t have to hire a full-time employee if you aren’t ready.
For example, you can start with a freelancer for a specific project, or even have someone on a small retainer so you can turn to them when you need them.
The right HR person will work with you to come up with the right partnership that gets you the HR expertise you need for the stage of your business.
Remove the excuses and obstacles and invite HR into your start-up and we will help you achieve your goals of a growing and successful business!