This anecdote is a part of a series from the People Matters June cover: Travails of Team building. The story focuses on learning the first principles of attracting and enabling the core team from entrepreneurs. Read it in two parts Travails of team building: Learning from startups and Travails of team building: Enabling, not retaining.
There are two parts of the HR role. The first part is what I call the creative part — figuring out the people strategy, connecting the dots in your organization, making people aligned with it and playing the role of a coach. The second is the process part which is more stringent. Processes have to work in sync for an employee to get his or her paycheck every month on time. So personally, the second part fell outside my bandwidth and I definitely didn’t want to take ownership of that. I knew somebody who is an expert in the second part is going take it up. When you are a young startup with a very small team, you will not usually find an HR person first. But we were lucky to have found a person who was an HR person who was also a core business and a startup person. If we would have initially hired a purely HR person, she wouldn’t have had enough work to do in the initial days with just 6-10 people. The person we hired was a core business person who doubled up as the HR person, which is exactly what most Founder/CEOs do. In my case, I didn’t want to do the process bit of HR. Startup people are inclined to and comfortable wearing many hats and our HR person is also incidentally playing two big roles right now.
Also, when one scales up, growth often triggers instability. And the need for an HR person becomes all the more evident as the culture of the company needs to be intact. And the key is communicating as transparently as possible. It is a collaborative approach and a strategy. There might be some hard calls like not hiring anymore or cutting down on expenses but that decision is taken as a team.
And my biggest learning so far has been that experience is not something that is rewarding. It is a redundant word.