The Unicorn HRO Blog

Tips for startup companies

Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2015 by Unicorn HRO

Making mistakes are par for the course for startup companies, and cannot be avoided. Instead, it is the company’s ability to spot mistakes and quickly correct them-as well as to avoid repeating them in the future-which is the key to success. The early years of any company are often known as the “make or break” years. One of the biggest mistakes (and key parts of the success) in start-ups are the founding team members that the team hires. For managers new to business, the expertise needed to make good judgement and hiring decisions is imperative, and so an expert HR department can be one of the most valuable assets to have. Ideally, companies may choose to work with HR managers with experience in start-up companies. Unlike established companies in which hiring decisions are made based on data showing success of previous employees, start-up companies have no track record of good hiring decisions to use. HR managers therefore may be required to spend more time than traditional recruitment processes in order to work closely with employers to help them to create role descriptions as well as aid employers in their decisions on the qualities, skills and characteristics needed in their workforce. They will need more time to become familiar with the employer’s new vision for the company.

A good tip for start-up companies is to begin building their team early in the process, as soon as company values and vision have been established. As the first team members will be representatives and thus the key to the success of the company, HR managers may require additional time to research, interview and hire. Start-up companies do not want to rush into their recruitment decisions lightly.

Companies which do well are often run by founders who passionately believe in the ideas and products they create. This is important, as it gives the impetus needed to keep going during the difficulties inherent in beginning new businesses. Similarly, it is important for HR managers to find candidates with the right skills for the work, but it is equally as important that HR managers are able to look past these skills and identify employees who will fit with the company and share the same passion for the new company vision. Considering that the team members will be the first face of the company, communicating with outside audiences and helping to establish a customer base, this is particularly important. Similarly, a bad hire so early in the company’s history can ‘derail’ any initial growth of the company.

For this reason, finding the right fit between employee and employer will be vital for new businesses. HR managers who are experienced in working with startups have the skills to match a candidate personality with that of the employer. They also have their eye on long-term goals and are able to recognize the potential for growth in the company. Their recruitment process may also include identifying candidates who may be appropriate for roles not yet established, and creating candidate lists to draw on in future recruitment processes.

New companies will also require more work to build momentum, and advertise themselves in order to attract new clients. HR managers may want to focus their recruitment process on new graduates who are on the cutting edge of research in their field, who have the ‘get up and go’ and who are willing to work additional hours to establish their career and establish the company. A good HR manager will also recognize that the very things that attracted these employees to the startup company, such as excitement for new goals and projects, might wane as the business becomes more established. Here, HR managers must be able to move employees into new roles in order to maintain their interest, motivation and in doing so reduce turnover.

As a new company, the company culture and vision may change and HR managers must be able to identify bad hires, such as employees who do not successfully adapt to the growing and evolving company.

As a startup company, employers may not be able to offer competitive benefits, and again the HR manager and their role is imperative. A good HR manager can find good value benefits and communicate to employees the potential for increased benefits as the company grows. HR departments will play an important role in metrics and predictive analysis as the company generates more data, enabling employers to acquire information on anything from employee turnover to productivity and customer retention.

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