HR Planning in Startups – Setting the Sluggish Wheel in Motion

Relinquishing human resources planning can lead to detrimental outcomes for the growing business set-ups

In the history of organizations, the department of Human Resources has always ran an extra mile to create its clout among other business functions.

This reality gets magnified when it comes to startups since it is highly convenient to overlook the people practices when your company is bubbling with non-channeled energy and is in a hurry to generate profits.

Realizing the novice folly, many of these young companies have to take a U-turn to inculcate HR practices, thus wasting time, money and resources.

While some other unlucky ones, fade out into oblivion due to lack of proper HR strategy. Surprising as it may sound, it is a reason.

Startups have to take a U-turn to inculcate HR practices

Let us grapple with the gravity of the situation in words of Robert Siegel (Professor at Stanford GSB and VC at XSeed Capital) –

“Startups ignore HR at their peril. The single largest issue that causes the most emotional heartache in a startup is people challenges. Nevertheless, if you put best HR practices into place in the earliest days and are doing the right things right, you’ll have fewer and fewer issues and blowups”

The thoughts expressed above bring us to our next question. What can be the possible HR Errors in a startup?

Well here is a quick list to consider:

  • Having an uninspiring vision that just screams “Join us and get paid loads of money”
  • Non-existent employer branding. People don’t know if you are worth trying for
  • Over involvement of the Top Management team (COO, Founders, CEO) who just cannot trust enough to let others run the show. This sometimes mean skip hiring HR person altogether
  • Too much emphasis on inflated titles, salaries, perks, stocks by compromising on other important employee aspects like learning and well-being
  • No time or clear channels for communication and feedback
  • Unclear roles and responsibilities
  • Fuzzy reporting structures owing to undue highlight of flat hierarchies
  • Non-cohesive work culture with weak management fabric
  • Absence of team and individual accountability with no stress on using performance matrix
  • Having HR just as a background prop or a legal requirement

The aim of startups should be not only to avoid the common HR errors but also think of ways to empower the people managers help create a company of their dreams.

Well-oiled HR machinery ensures the startups get best people who uphold the company’s operating values and lend it a distinguished identity among hundreds and thousands of businesses opening each day.

Startups ignore HR at their peril

In midst of so much to achieve, it makes sense to know HR imperatives that are absolute essential and have no scope for delay, if a company needs to thrive under competition.

Key focus of HR Planning in Startups

Know what you are hiring for!

This involves clarity in terms of the right mix of people viz.a.viz jobs.

Hiring right people for the right job with precise understanding of roles and related skills, knowledge and expectations helps to save on cost and heartburn later.

Competency Model though an old concept still holds tough potency in present times.

Agility in getting right people

In line with company’s growth charter, the hiring strategy should keep up pace both in numbers as well as quality.

The HR should be able to gauge where a team lacks and how it can be supported with correct hires.

This also involves using multiple channels of recruitment including social media and other innovative ways to attract, develop and retain talent with limited resources.

Serve as incubators of employee growth

Though startup crowd is self-motivated on most occasions, this parameter is essential to streamline employee ambitions with company vision.

If these match the result is high productivity and commitment.

HR specialist can identify potential volcanoes of conflicts during growth phase and mitigate them through effective work relations and programs.

This dimension also involves presenting opportunities and tools for employees to learn new dimensions and develop skills that help fulfill their career aspirations and in turn take company to the next level.

Set a precedent of credibility

The role of HR in startups is more action dependent and about “showing up“ rather than pulling weight of their position and power.

A sincere effort to listen what’s working/what’s not for employees can help rectify the problems early and create an open culture where people are not afraid to voice out pats and brickbats.

This strengthens the internal cohesiveness among people and also sends a great message outside to the potential hires of how refreshing it will be to work for such a company.

Onboard Industry Experts

Human Resource veterans with massive success stories of organization transformation are always exploring ways to challenge themselves.

This works best for the startups as it puts an end to the struggles of trial and error and spending huge on reinventing the wheel.

Trusting the experience and instincts of industry stalwarts who have seen it all and done it all, can prep the startup for success without many hiccups.

Concluding Words

‘Making HR a Priority’ is the order of the day for startups.

This planning should be a mix of innovation on the go and setting practical targets to fix people matters.

The VP – HCM Products of NetSuite, world’s leading provider of cloud based business management software; Joseph Fung has a sane advice for all the CEOs who want to see their business flourish –

“Simply recognizing HR challenges isn’t enough. Prioritizing is vital. Top 3 Strategic HR issues that require startup CEO’s attention include – ensuring diversity of personalities and thoughts, transparency of relevant information and lastly communication of “Why” Forward (clear vision backed by a strong why).”

This pretty much sums up the picture for HR planning in startups.

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Written By

Mitalee Chhatre

Mitalee, a true professional with over 5 years of corporate experience in Human Resources and Health Sector. Contributor on CakeHR where tracks the newest trends and practices of the work-life world.