Working with first-time CEOs and Founders is a highly rewarding part of what I do. I have nothing but respect for those who throw everything on the line to make their venture’s slim chance of survival a reality. I also appreciate that with bootstrapping,, the library of business books and an over-reliance on legal beagles with contracts defining the people management agenda at the outset, we can make unnecessary schoolkid errors as a result. Here’s 5 simple things, which to the naked eye seem sensible, for CEOs to avoid when building a coherent, scalable, people strategy :
Recruitment is easy - Sometimes said, often the belief but it’s poppycock. You’ll end up running a distressed beacon, pay over the odds with an agency, assess with an unstructured biased eye and take any available warm bodies as they are better than nothing on the journey. You’ll also be caught up in a horrendous series of exits as a result. Recruitment is part science – part art, invest in it as a priority.
The Probation period – Employment protection in the UK has swung massively in favour of the employer, giving you actually a 1 year 364 day probation period for a seemingly bad hire. Putting a ‘mibbee aye, mibbe naw’ distraction hanging over good people you want to get up to productivity is just plain daft. It’s a drain on time and productivity.
Recognition as a process – When this becomes a ‘thing’ each week, month or quarter then it fails. The task of appointing someone suddenly becomes gamed. The thing is, the employees know it’s gamed. Stop it now, make it natural and give it a flow related to true recognition and performance. And just thank people – a lot.
Just let fun and good times roll – There was a time when this demonstrable show of perks such as the fusbal table, the expresso machine and beer on tap was an indication of the disruptive difference in the new economy workplace. It’s now past table stakes and in fact can look appalling if the deficit to being a decent employer who treats people well, inspires them and for a short time in their careers allows them to leave better than they came in, is not on show. Consciously design your office for the realities of how people work not for the inevitable instagram photo opportunity.
Overcomplicated reward systems – I’ve seen employee bonus plans jam packed with more qualifying rounds than the champions league. How can you reward for company collaboration when the majority of employees aren’t eligible based on a 1 year service ? Get to know your people and see what is important to them and accept that individual bonus plans don’t foster team spirit or collaboration. It’s your money, use it wisely.
Context is everything in making the people side of things a roaring success. Culture - 'the way things are done around here', automation, workspace, productivity hacks, wellbeing, employment brand and business models should all reflect that fact. People are messy and the market for attracting and retaining good folk is bloody hard.
Don’t leave this aspect to chance and make it a focus from early doors.