Engage with your people. Focus on what matters.

Just like we were for Apple's $1,000 stand, the Game of Thrones finale or the European elections results – we all love to fuss about the tools we use at work.

There will always be software which will increase productivity by X%, or that app company Y uses that made their engagement rates go through the roof πŸš€

Truth is: we all like to believe our software could do better.

Box, Slack and Monzo, are three businesses I like. With their products, they entered markets apparently saturated, and proved there is a better way to manage docs/files, collaborate, and well.. bank!

HR Tech deserves better

HR tools are one of the few applications used by the entire business. Unfortunately they're used poorly, given no one actually wants to interact with them. More often than not they have a Windows β€˜98 look and feel, capabilities that not even the Pentagon would require and the user friendliness of a university law manual.

I bet your company is adopting the best tech it can afford to improve engineering outputs and drive revenue. Just like your Engineering team and Sales org, your People Operations function deserves better technology to work with.

Adam Grant wisely tweeted:

People are not the most valuable asset in your company. People are your company.

If your company deserves the best (and company equals people), then your people deserve the best πŸ™

Let's spend that VC money – wisely!

Raising capital enables startups to grow incredibly fast.

This high velocity growth-centricity can be beneficial (if well managed), but often generates debt. Many startup environments lack the experience of scaling fast and focus solely on hiring, rather than on the hired individuals. This is the downfall for many fast growing companies. It is not only a matter of getting the right fit through the door, but making sure people stay, while put in a position to produce their best work.

HR tools, are typically the first point of contact for your new starters – so why do we invest so little in them? If we help people with efficiency, every step of the way, we will eliminate the friction caused by chasing two weeks down the line for that National Insurance Number they didn't add to the people management system, and for which we might not be able to pay them correctly.

Self-contained point solutions that enable us to move fast as the organisations we're building up, are the way to go. We should not glorify clunky all-in-one legacy tools, with way more features than we will ever need or use, but prioritise velocity and ease of use.

This will ultimately lead to efficiency gains and engagement.

Time to Marie Kondo those spreadsheets

If you're a typical startup with 10-15 people sitting in a room, your setup to keep track of people related stuff would look something like this:

  • A spreadsheet for salaries, banking details and addresses;
  • Another spreadsheet (or just Google Calendar) for time away;
  • A folder in Drive for contracts;

And you'll feel on top of everything, until suddenly you are not!

Fast forward to 30-40 people, and it's chaos! If you're a founder, you're lost (time to delegate). If you're in Operations, you're about to outsource. If you're the People Ops/HR person (for companies that see the value of bringing in this role early), well, you know that this is the time to do some spring cleaning.

Not only with this fragmented set up you will have to constantly check and chase, you will also provide an unpleasant experience to people (and an overall bad perception of the company). Not to mention the inability to leverage any kind of data as you scale.

Making sense

Have a clear idea of what are the challenges that your growth path entails, and focus on what matters. Focus on people.

When looking for the right tools it's easy to get lost. You'd feel like you really need to get the full package straight away. But you don't.

We tend to overvalue non-essentials to the detriment of what could save us energy. Our goal should be to take advantage of technology, leverage what's best and adopt only what we need to move forward.

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. – Greg Mckeown


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