Updated: Mar 18
Launching Mountside Ventures during COVID-19 has allowed us to think deeply about some key processes we want in place for our business from the start, which will be the consistent pillars as we begin to scale in the future. This blog outlines our top tips to consider for your HR function.
For early-stage companies, it’s rare to have HR personnel from the outset - usually, it’s the founders of the business who are responsible for setting the company culture, recruiting desirable talent, and managing the post-hiring process to ensure you hang on to your best team members. HR should not be overlooked; it functions to ensure your team is working efficiently to meet the individual’s, team’s and company’s objectives and key results (OKRs).
1. Understand and set your company culture
Studies have shown that a strong company culture strengthens efficiency and employee performance. Hence, company culture is likely to play a significant role in determining the long-term success or failure of your business. So, what is “culture”?
Your company culture will be made up of your values and assumptions. Your Values are the positive daily practices that you find important. These could be; honesty, diversity and accountability. Assumptions are the meanings behind those values; how do they contribute to you and your company? For example:
Honesty articulates the importance of open and honest communication
Diversity allows a team to be open-minded and offer varied perspectives
Accountability ensures employees know they have a responsibility and their work efforts are valuable
Examples of some of our key values at Mountside Ventures are; being action-oriented whereby we strive to act quickly and get the job done, being responsive so that we can act fast and flexibly, and finally, being trustworthy both internally and also with our clients.
2. Integrate culture & values into your hiring process
This does not necessarily mean from the outset you should list your culture and values in the job description. State clearly what you are looking for, and during the screening process pay attention to the language used by applicants to assess how they may fit. Does their ambition match yours? Asking questions such as “how would you motivate a colleague?” can offer you an insight into their ambitions and personal experiences.
3. Execute an efficient hiring process
Recruiting and interviewing potential hires is one of the most important brand-building exercises your company will go through. Hence, during the hiring process, it is important to remember that although you are assessing applicants, equally they are assessing you. This could be your company’s first interaction with individuals outside of your startup, so it is imperative you present yourself professionally.
Through upfront organisation, which results in efficiency as well as managing the expectations of your applicants. For example, implement a set turnaround time for reviewing applications and communicate what that will be, so applicants are not left in the dark. To be time effective, try not to surpass a three-stage interview structure. It is useful to hold informal phone screening interviews to assess the candidate’s personality and demeanour before taking time out of everybody’s diaries and progressing talent to the final stages too soon.
4. Company Handbook
Simultaneously as you begin to grow, curate a handbook accessible for every member of your team. It will evolve as you scale - so be sure to keep it up to date. By recording things like the structure of your hiring process, you can review it later down the line and with hindsight understand what to improve on - it’s all part of the learning process.
When writing your handbook, start with these pointers that should outline and inform your team on:
Leading the business; how you will manage and coach employees
Culture and values
Onboarding & post-hiring
Feedback & development
5. Onboarding Checklist
Create an onboarding checklist so that the whole hiring and post-hiring process runs smoothly. This will include everything from your “welcome to the company” email, to their first induction day and 1-month review.
Most importantly, make sure contractual agreements adhere to all legal requirements such as ensuring your talent has the legal right to work in the country your company is based. Pay extra care and attention to the legalities behind hiring for full-time positions, part-time or student internships.
If you'd like to discuss the article in more detail please feel free to get in touch with me, Sophie, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'd be more than happy to chat through it with you.
Useful reads & recommendations:
Notion is a reliable and trustworthy tool which has been a lifesaver whilst setting up our business remotely during COVID. Here, the team has been able to collaborate effectively in one space, whilst building the pillars to the business.
Notion Talent Assessment is a project made up of shared experience, knowledge and data, uncovering hidden challenges and offering up solutions for adapting your business.
B. Horowitz. 2014. “The Hard Thing About Hard Things”. C5: pp.124 How Do You Hire Somebody Good?, C6: pp.155 The Right Kind of Ambition, C7: pp.179 Programming Your Culture. An insiders advice on; scaling your company, managing employees and how to be a great leader.
If your startup is based in the UK, we recommend consulting the UK Government Website for more details concerning document screening, background checks and insurance.
Look out for our next article on crafting an enticing job description.