By Clare Mullen



Continued conversations with People and Talent leaders, founders and executives have led me to the conclusion that startups are really struggling to find the right People and Talent leaders, while on the other side those in the more corporate HR world are struggling to break into the startup world and find their feet.

If 2019 is your year for making a move and you want to succeed in a People or Talent role in early stages companies, then here are some sure-fire ways to stop you from hitting a brick wall...repeatedly.

  1. HR IS DEAD! Sorry, I know you spent a lot of time and money studying for your CIPD, and while they may consider themselves the gospel on all things HR....a lot of it is no longer relevant to the modern workforce. Start talking about HR on interviews and you will see a glazed look in the founder's eyes, and a look of fear on their face. Like it or not, HR means policy, procedure and zero fun for those in early stages business. Demonstrate your understanding of People not process. Read about modern People practices, attend meet-ups or find P&T mentors from other tech businesses. Listen to podcasts from notable People leaders. Learn how to do HR differently and rip up that rule book!
  2. Don't be a bulldozer. I speak from experience on this one! If you are going into an early stages company as their first P&T hire you will, of course, be the expert in the room. However, walking in the door and making big changes linked to your big business experience will not be welcomed and you will quickly find yourself in an isolated position. Likewise, if you are taking over from someone else in the role, don't wipe out everything they did. We all work differently. Find out what works for the team by spending time with them individually. Get to know the pain points and what's going well. You are much closer to the coalface in a small business so you will get closer to the employees. This is an opportunity you don't want to mess up! By investing time in them and learning about how they work you will be privy to a lot more information and will be able to be one step ahead of the rest of the executive team.
  3. Get networking! I know I mentioned this briefly in point one. However, one of the big things those of us in P&T roles in early stages business cry out for is safe space knowledge sharing. We are all facing the same challenges, we are all testing idea's, we are all working with small budgets. Don't be afraid to talk about what you don't know and seek advice. Learn from others mistakes, and then learn again. Never stop learning!
  4. Have fun, be part of the team!! I know you probably feel your role is to keep a distance. Of course, professional distance needs to be there and you need to act appropriately, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy your role! You have the responsibility of enhancing the culture of the team, it's a huge job but you don't need to get the mood hoover out!

Finally, if you are looking for some great People reading then I highly recommend the following:

The Culture Code: The Secret's of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord

Good Luck!

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