Building an HR Strategy in a Rapidly Upscaling SMB Company

I often get asked how I would go about building an HR strategy for a growing SMB tech company. My initial response starts with… “sigh… well… it depends”. Isn’t that a great consulting answer? In all honesty, it really does depend on many factors — leadership team (make-up and skill-set), growth strategy (one market or multiple), financial (funding, revenue and profit), recruiting challenges (i.e. software developers, software security, etc…) and overall alignment between my philosophy on people and talent in organizations and the leadership team.

Building an HR strategy for an organization needs to be unique to that organization, and nobody else. Of course many of the things that will need to happen will be the same as other organizations, but the core of the strategy will be unique. Because I have worked with, connected to and advised many growing SMB tech companies during my career I created a visual depiction of how I would go about building an HR strategy. Note that I did not create this last week… it’s been an evolution over time taking all of the work that I have done. I just finally pushed through the last 5% of the presentation — made it look nice, added visuals, changed font and all the other good artistic stuff.

My Philosophy

As you develop in your career you will start to build a philosophy on what you believe in and how you do things. You will see this loud and clear in the presentation below. These beliefs are an important part of what I do. You may disagree with them and that’s perfectly fine. The trick is to find a company that shares your philosophy and beliefs so there’s alignment.

At the core of everything I do is the “employee experience”. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 15-person fintech company or a 25,000 retail chain. This philosophy that I firmly believe in will always be at the centre of what I do. It has to be or nothing will make sense to me.

The second important factor is that I view employees as customers, similarly to how marketing views product buyers. The only difference is the product — I’m selling the organization as a place of work.

The third factor is “employee engagement is king”. You may be thinking that employee engagement is the employee experience. A great employee experience is the outcome of strong employee engagement. Everything HR does needs to align to supporting strong engagement. Personally, it’s how I win. There are key things that drive engagement in every organization. Whatever they are should form the core of your HR strategy.

The fourth key factor is technology – scaling HR requires both process and technology. Investing in smart HR software to make-up your “HR tech stack” is not only cost-effective (think of investing in software versus hiring another person in HR) but will help HR be a true business partner.

Have a read-through and let me know what you think. Of course the key activities from 0-6 months and 6-12 months will not always be the same, but generally speaking, I have focused on these things most of the time.

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