4 Strategies for How Startups Should Tackle Talent Acquisition
One thing that startups have little to spare is money, so making sure new hires are happy enough to stay, thrive and be innovative is a major investment.
Talent is Transforming recently spoke to experts at two startups about best practices for talent acquisition and overall human resources. Emily Markmann, vice president of people at WeddingWire, and Warren White, director of human resources at Citelighter, gave us their four amazing pieces of advice for making sure startups are putting useful people strategies in place.
Emily says some of the most important people decisions should involve data. Being able to present certain data-driven trends to a startup’s leadership team goes a long way in terms of being to show a picture of where the company’s talent pool is and where it’s going.
Some of the first steps for a company in collecting data could be as simple as creating a spreadsheet of where its talent is and different roles in the company to using software like Tableau to view data on graphs. Emily says being able to analyze that data can help HR predict the future. For example, are employees only staying two years? What roles have the shortest retention rates? “It can elevate the role of HR very quickly when you’re talking to your financial folks and high-level executives,” Emily tells us.
Warren says as a startup expands, it’s important to start developing an HR strategy that can be executed by a designated leader within the company. One of the mistakes a lot of startups make in that regard is they wait a little too long to start really focusing on talent, says Warren.
The value of an organization, aside from its innovation, is its people. The wrong people strategy or an absent people strategy can be a huge detriment and expense for the company. “Startups can’t afford to make a lot of people mistakes because people are expensive,” he adds.
Emily says measuring and monitoring employee engagement drives productivity and the bottom line. Through “voice of the employee” surveys, a company can drive engagement numbers and quantify engagement period over period. “It’s extremely fun to watch and be able to see the impact period over period when you take specific targeted programs that are identified through the voice of the employee and being able to strategically map out programs,” she says.
A strong employee engagement survey includes a few key components: Share employee survey results with the entire team so that it encourages even more feedback. A good survey program is also an opportunity for the company to share its priorities.
Great people make great companies, says Emily. There’s a talent ecosystem at work every day where everything feeds itself. In other words, talent acquisition builds great talent in the organization. You have to cultivate that talent, engage that talent and it all feeds itself, says Emily.
To go even further, Warren says startups should create and foster an environment that allows its people to perform at their maximum ability, he says. That means having the resources to do their jobs, along with the peace of mind of knowing they have benefits in place and predictable paychecks. Not having to focus on those things really allows employees to perform their best.
Want to hear more about how startups can approach their HR strategy? Listen to the entire Talent is Transforming podcast.
In sports, it’s all about the best players and coaches. Sound familiar? Businesses of all sizes are also heavily reliant on finding and keeping the best talent to succeed. So why don’t we take more lessons from professional sports teams on how they recruit and retain the top players?
Talent is Transforming recently spoke to Louis Montgomery, who leads Korn Ferry’s executive search practice for the mid-Atlantic and southern regions. He’s been outspoken on the valuable lessons we can take from sports.
“Successful sports teams and successful organizations have many things in common,” Louis tells us. “But the most important thing is that they really focus on getting and developing the best talent.”
Louis, who’s a two-time Talent is Transforming guest, gave us three tips on thinking more like a sports team when it comes to developing a talent management strategy.
Football teams have about 300 professional football players to choose from and teams are limited by their own record in terms of getting access to those players. The better teams tend to have some of the most developed acquisition processes in place. Louis says you can be a 13-person firm or a 100,000-person firm, but ultimately you’re only going to be as good as the people you bring into the organization. “You need to have some real clarity around what you need and want to do from a talent acquisition standpoint,” he says.
Performance is one thing, potential is another, says Louis. Have a way to determine who are the people you should be making more investments in to help them get better. Those are going to be the people who lead your organization in the future. Identify your organization’s “diamonds”—the people who have more potential than you can actually see. Figure out the “blockers”—those who tend to stay put in positions that are really stepping stones to other roles within the organization. “Make sure you know what you need for the various kinds of positions and you get people in the right kinds of roles,” Louis told us.
A brand new organization may not be thinking about succession, but they should, Louis told us. In fact, companies at all stages should be thinking about their company’s next generation of leadership. Use data to help—do talent reviews more regularly, study the types of traits needed in certain positions and invest in developing current employees for future positions within the organization. “We continue to talk about a war for talent, but it can be won if you have an effective talent management strategy,” Louis says. “If you don’t, you’re doomed to mediocrity.”
Louis had much more insight during our chat, so click to hear the rest of our conversation on the Talent is Transforming podcast.