Fast growth for an entrepreneurial business is great news, but it comes with a new set of challenges. When it comes to people, it’s best to get things right first time. Cancel culture is an unavoidable worry for successful owner-led start-ups and the last thing you want is to have a ill-thought through HR decision come back to haunt you months or years later, bringing with it reputational damage. Here we explore five important HR tips designed to help protect your growing early-phase business from making common, expensive mistakes.
Tip 1: Create a people strategy that reflects your business strategy.
Start by looking in depth at your business strategy and undertake an audit to understand the type of people plan and tactics you need to put in place in order to fulfil this. A commercial goal of high growth will require a different set of people processes to a commercial goal of stability. Whatever the strategy, you need to think how your people plan can support you achieve it.
The experience your employees have at work should match up to the external brand identity they are asked to support. As an employer, think about how your brand values translate for your employees and ask yourself if you are living up to the promises you make. This isn’t about propaganda style posters on the walls, or motivational message mugs. It’s more about understanding what type of employer you want to be, and asking yourself how you will sustain this given your commercial goals.
If you are clear on your people plan and the values you are offering to employees, you’re more likely to get new team members that have a longer and more successful time with you.
Tip 2: Build solid foundations.
Small and medium businesses often feel that employment law is a difficult and ever-changing minefield to navigate (and they aren’t necessarily wrong). However, putting solid foundations in place can ensure legal compliance and help business owners feel confident they can deal with a range of situations. These foundations should consist of a simple employee handbook, appropriate employment contracts, and sound HR processes in relation to recruitment, selection, performance etc. Some of these can be bought “cookie cutter” style off the shelf but, having identified the type of employer you want to be (See tip 1), you can use this as your true north to create a legally compliant set of policies, contracts and processes which still reflect your employer personality and work well for your commercial business needs.
Tip 3: Address your people issues.
One of the most common mistakes busy, growing employers make is to shy away from dealing with challenging people issues. Putting things off only serves to compound the issue over time and leads to bigger and more disruptive outcomes than would otherwise be necessary. If you have a poor performer, bad conduct or excessive sickness issues and are worried about mishandling them – seek support from an expert. Address it with respect for all of those involved and with fairness, but don’t put it off.
Tip 4: Engage and involve your whole team
Engaging your team is not always an easy task. People generally start new jobs fully engaged, they are energised, optimistic, excited and collaborative. But, depending on their experience at work, over time they can get disengaged and become: tired, negative, bored, cynical and unobliging.
Companies introduce all sorts of measures to help engagement from “cake day Friday” to “in-house yoga” and so on. The main mistake that businesses make is to come up with solutions before the problems have been properly diagnosed. It’s no use having weekly yoga sessions when all people want is to be clear about what they need to be doing and what good looks like. Sometimes, the main cause of disgruntlement is a broken printer!
The place to start is with a good conversation with your team. This can be in the form of a survey followed by action planning, or just good, honest and non-defensive team discussions. By involving your employees you solve the right problems together rather than waste investment on wrong solutions.
Tip 5: Find a trusted partner
The most important thing about putting any HR plans in place, is to do it with a trusted partner. HR professionals need to understand the full company perspective – warts and all and need to hear all of the confidential stuff. You need to be able to trust them to keep confidences and trust their abilities to deliver the right plans.
There are three things your HR partner needs to be:
· A subject matter guru (HR expert)
· Commercially astute (understand how business works)
· A trusted partner (a sounding board, someone who can offer different perspectives).
Every business is different – so your HR strategy should be too. At Perfect Vision HR we work side by side with our clients to deliver bespoke solutions that answer their individual needs, support fast growth and fit with their unique company culture.
Get in touch with us today to understand how Perfect Vision HR can support your growing SME.