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Starting a business and getting HR to work for you…

Starting a business and getting HR to work for you…

Every business, whether they have a headcount of 3 or a headcount of 3000 should have a HR (human resources) mindset. HR for a company of 3 you might scoff, how is HR relevant to a fledgling company that is only that size. The term HR or Personnel puts fear in some people’s eyes; they employ, they sack, they appraise and legislate, all the stuff, that you or I, would probably rather not have to do!

However having a HR mindset is fundamental to any one starting a business.Take away the corporate exterior, the term HR, should simply mean the talent, workforce or people that makes up your team. In that sense we are all HR and it should be our duty to make sure that part of the business is not only functional, but working as hard as it can be to get it right!

With this in mind, he is our non definitive list of things you may wish to consider when starting a business from scratch…

The right Skills…

Job titles when you are starting out – really do not count for too much really. You can call your self anything really and the reality is that if you start with a headcount of 1 or 2, your job will have to encompass pretty much everything. However this can be an advantage. Firstly you are used to having a ‘all hands on deck mentality’ and secondly it can help you spot talent that you might want to add to your workforce.If you are good at Sales, but bad at Finance, get someone with a head for figures. If you are a creative soul, but can’t manage a paper bag, nevermind an office, get someone with a good ability to multitask and administer. Do not try to recruit people who may have similar skills – brilliant as they are, as they will strengthen one part of your operation, but continue to make the other part of your business weaker.

A complimentary Co-Founder or two, can also help with this problem, and this is why many leading Entrepreneurs, recommend that you start a business with a headcount of two, as you not only double your workforce, you double your complimentary talent and skills too.

Performance and Appraisals

This sounds like a dirty word to many of us – however managing performance, reviewing systems and having clarity on employment expectations can be key to running a steady and growing business. When you do end up employing a staff member, it is important that you demonstrate from the outset that you take their employment seriously. There is nothing worse, than on an employees first day, being sat down and being told to get on with it…Get on with what?!! Having clear expectations and reviewing those expectations weekly or monthly, means a staff member understands what they need to do and achieve, but it can also make them feel valued and of value. Appraisals and performance reviews can also help to clarify issues or problems and come up with workable solutions.

Record your appraisals as well – and make sure that both parties agree that this is what was agreed. At worst, make sure that the appraisal is email over, and at best use some kind of software performance management system that will save you time and also make sure that the meetings you have, are recorded and stored. Yes they do cost, but so can bad practice, so as you grow, it might be worth looking at someone like Halogen Software UK who offer software solutions to employee performance management.

Cover Yourself…

No not in chocolate, or some other sweet delight, (as you might end up in some kind of HR issue), but cover yourself legally. It’s not for me to say what the legal’s are, I am no legal eagle, but just be aware that legislation is important and must be followed. Again, as our blog is read by people from all parts of the World, legislation is differing depending on where you live, so make sure you research HR rules that are specific to where you live. Non HR people may be concerned by the term ‘legislation’, but really it is there to protect you the employer, as much as the employee, so make sure that you don’t look at guidelines with fear, look at them with respect and you should always be fine!

If you live in the UK here’s some handy free links to government type sites if you are starting a business…Again, although I worked in Commercial Recruitment for nearly 10 years, the rules, and wording of rules, change all the time, so make sure you get timely, legal and official advice only, before making HR decisions..

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/paye/ – For registering as an Employer

http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/ – For a varied resource of information, some personnel specific

http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/employment-matters – For employment best practice guidance

http://www.hse.gov.uk/leadership/legislation.htm – For health and safety aspects

http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations.aspx – For Data Protection type guidance etc

Good luck starting a business and if you treat HR as your friend, and as a fundamental part of running your business successfully, HR can enhance your performance, your talent pool and your effectiveness to operate as a real business.

Please be aware, that this is a blog of opinion only and for official HR advice always opt for an official HR person… 🙂


4 Responses to “Starting a business and getting HR to work for you…”

  1. you hiring ?

    Posted by jason palmer | March 31, 2012, 1:54 pm
  2. Some sound advice here, Alastair.

    Whilst there are some tricky areas of managing the people that work for you, (most of which – such as TUPE and redundancy – many employers will never need to encounter,) most HR is about thinking sensibly and behaving reasonably.

    It’s important to have some grounding in the essentials about taking staff on for the first time, and dealing with the overall rare occasions where grievance, discipline and dismissal issues need to be properly managed, but for the most part, making the right recruitment decisions means such issues are faced quite rarely – even though those are the issues that grab all the attention – it’s in those areas where the legislation can be a help, rather than a hindrance, because employer’s that adhere to the legislation, generally won’t go far wrong.

    Taking some early advice and support to get the basics right should be relatively low cost and will normally pay for itself in setting up the right sort of relationship form the start.
    Appraisals as you suggest, may seem daunting, but are in fact far easier to undertake than they appear to be, and are one of the most valuable staff management activities for making sure everyone is working as they should, for the good of the business.

    Posted by Paul Webb | April 2, 2012, 4:09 pm
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    Posted by Farah | July 29, 2012, 10:59 pm

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