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3 Most Critical HR Challenges for Startup Founders

Startup founders often have to juggle numerous priorities. When it comes to HR-related tasks, they are often caught up in *tactical* problems instead of *strategic* ones. This presentation outlines 3 critical and strategic challenges that should command significant attention from startup founders (and early stage employees).

This presentation was originally delivered as part of Communitech's Level Up series in Waterloo, Canada.

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3 Most Critical HR Challenges for Startup Founders

  1. 1. The 3 Most Critical HRChallenges for Startup Founders
  2. 2. Where these opinions came from: 2002 2012 Involved in 5 Startups in the last 10 Years The most important thing I’ve learned from them is the importance of…
  3. 3. Priority 1: Ruthless Prioritization
  4. 4. Spend your time like it costs you $1500per hour
  5. 5. How much is your time worth? Imagine this (crappy) consulting offer: “We agree your time is worth $150/hour. However, we can’t pay you for four years, at which time we will pay you in one lump sum.”Source: Jason Cohen,
  6. 6. Bill Yourself $1500/hr15% chance they exist and pay their bill $150/hr ÷ 15% = $1000/hrAdd 10% annual premium for making you wait $1000 × 1.14 ≈ $1500/hr
  7. 7. The Extremely Scientific Way I Picked The Top 3 Challenges:Would I pay someone $1500/hr if they could solve this problem?
  8. 8. Separate Strategic and TacticalWe don’t often hear about HR as a core challengein startups, but when we do, we hear these:• Recruiting• Development• Project ManagementThese are tactical issues, not strategic ones!!
  9. 9. The 3 Most Critical Challenges• Personality• Transparency• The Why Forward
  10. 10. Challenge 1: Personality Matters
  11. 11. Groupthink is deceptive andImpossible to avoid
  12. 12. Where is it a critical problem?• Groupthink in hiring decisions• Groupthink in product decisions• Groupthink in marketing decisions• Just about everywhere else…
  13. 13. It is Often OversimplifiedBecause we are most comfortable with peoplethat think like ussocial circles and industry groups end up withskewed distributions
  14. 14. We are surrounded by like people (Using the MBTI Indicator, we see some interesting things) General Population Software Engineering Industry "TJ" Other Other "TJ" "FP" "FP"Source: Capretz, LF, Personality types in software engineering,Department of Electrical an Computer Engineering, University of Western Ontario
  15. 15. Ask Yourself:How likely is it, that your customers and/ormarket have the same personality breakdown asyour company?
  16. 16. Tactics to Overcome Problem Areas Marketing  Customer Personas Customer Support & Sales  Customer Profiles UX Design  Verify & Mouseflow Product Management  Customer Shadows
  17. 17. Conflicting voices will emergeand must be embraced
  18. 18. This Can Be Very Isolating… CEO VP Sales Developer Developer
  19. 19. The Hardest Personality Problem“If You Wanna Make The World A Better PlaceTake A Look At Yourself, And Then Make AChange” - Michael Jackson
  20. 20. How do I setup a mirror for myself?Here’s how one Canadian entrepreneur tacklesit: he gives a blueprint of his quirks to new staff
  21. 21. To Solve for Personality We Need To…• Counteract type clustering• Reinforce idea that differences are good• Constantly use that mirror
  22. 22. Challenge 2: Transparency
  23. 23. How much transparency is theright amount?
  24. 24. Here is an example TribeHR BoardMeeting AgendaLet’s highlight the sections we share with staffafter the meeting
  25. 25. We Are Easily Tripped-Up By• Shifting Priorities (e.g. Product Roadmap)• Over-Weighting (e.g. Investor Relations)• Irrelevance (e.g. Corporate Structure)
  26. 26. Issues of TransparencyCost You Speed
  27. 27. Speed is Critically ImportantIn a startup, you have limited time. Use thehighway analogy – you’ll see why. You’re in a car, travelling from A to B (100 miles away). You hit traffic and it takes you an hour to travel ½ way, how fast do you need to go for the last part of the trip to average 100 mph? Answer: It’s impossible – you’d have to teleport instantly
  28. 28. To Solve for Transparency We Need To…• Determine the right level of sharing• Adjust that level as the company grows
  29. 29. Challenge 3: The Why Forward
  30. 30. Dan Pink is way smarterthan I am …
  31. 31. … and so is Simon Sinek
  32. 32. Early Team Members are Flag-Bearers• Formal On-Boarding• Articulating Company Values• Championing Your CultureIf you can help them understand the “why”, theycan take care of the rest.
  33. 33. To Drive The Why Forward We Need To…• Figure out the “why” for ourselves• Share it with the team• Trust them to run with it
  34. 34. The 3 Most Critical HR Challenges• Personality (distribution, conflict & mirror)• Transparency (identify level & adjust)• The Why Forward (identify & communicate)
  35. 35. Feel free to connect at CreditsBrain Hue Collection - Vinegar - - - -