There are 2 factors that startup CEOs founders are facing to leverage their business: setting the right growth strategy and addressing people & HR challenges. As startups growth and/or are preparing to launch international expansion, startup CEOs founders need to make sure the organization has the right value proposition that leverage market penetration, product development, and a purposeful culture while building a leadership legacy that enables the startup to success. In this fast-paced growth environment, 3 critical questions need be addressed: what kind of talent and culture are needed to create a company brand across the markets? what type of mission and company behaviors/values do I want to be embedded in the employees? and how to be in compliance in every state/region/country where the startup operates?
In order to answer the questions above, startups CEOs need HR (after hitting 50 employees) to assist them on how to translate business strategy, customer and employee expectations in one people strategic plan that allow them to speed up organic growth and make the startup more scalable.
In the following lines, there are 4 aspects that startup CEOs founders need to consider:
1. Build a culture of “conquering hearts and minds”: culture is the “DNA” of any organization. It is how the startup empowers its people, the way how work-relationships and team accomplishments are encouraged. At the same time, it is how to motivate and engage customers while rewarding employees. In short, it is how work gets accomplished. As a startup CEO founder, setting up how people interact and work together should be in your agenda in order to leverage your “collaborative, flexible and fun culture”. This is where HR comes to play offering an initial cultural assessment and/or employee engagement tools to understand how the employees see the organization and what they are expecting from senior management in order to create actions plans that support cultural alignment while creating better business decisions. Remember, people want to feel that their jobs have a meaning within the organization and want to be part of a culture where opinions are heard and team work is encouraged.
2. Meaningful vision and values: what is amazing about startups is that they can create their own vision and values the way they want. This part is critical because it is going to be the reference on how to attract, retain and develop talent. HR can support in this process setting up the framework and assessment process to identify the right organizational vision and values. There are different ways how to approach this process. For instance, this assessment can be based on interviews, surveys, and workshops. You can invite employees, managers, and supervisors to create an inclusive process so that everyone can be heard. Startup CEOs founders have to lead the process and drive their teams to find the right vision and culture. HR will assist in the process design and workshop/survey structure defining responsibilities and activities.
3. Attract and engage talent: your people have to represent your culture and values, they need to have those cultural characteristics and the ability to interact and accomplish projects according to start up’s vision. Hence, identify those behaviors, skills, and personalities traits are critical to leverage business strategy. Having a meaningful and practical vision engage employees and attract critical talent. As I mentioned before, employees want to join something that is bigger than just going to work and getting paid; they want to be part of something incredible and meaningful.
4. HR assist in this process following the “outside-in” analysis. What I mean by that is that HR needs to understand what type of customers the company is serving and what is the value proposition that clients are expecting from the organization. Doing that assessment, HR can partner with functional areas to identify positions and job profiles that match clients’ needs and expectations. This way HR is creating the right mix of talent that is aligned to company’s culture, and customer expectations and not just the profile of the leadership team and/or CEO founder.
5. Cover the HR basics: growth and business expansion are common objectives for any size of organization. The big question for startups is: How can I run my company in different countries, regions, and cultures successfully without having legal/compliance issues? This is a big piece and a challenging process for a startup due to the cost of having an HR team that can manage the administrative work. However, if the HR basics are not covered, it can harm the business and even can be the reason why business can be shut down. Hence many startups decided to use third parties and/or outsource payroll, benefits, and compliance as a cost effective option and stay compliant with laws. However, building a scalable business would require HR talent that supports the employee-management software, develop workforce policies and discuss HR matters with employees and staff. HR should partner with legal and third parties to make sure the administrative HR work is done and make employees more engaged, valued, and included.