In late October, I attended an event called “Attracting Top Talent” that was presented by the CT Entrepreneurs Forum (CEF). It was geared towards startups. As a rule, I work exclusively with established CT manufacturers and my area of expertise is business development and marketing. However, in the past few weeks I have been pulled into the HR realm by several of my clients. So, I decided to attend.
The format was a panel discussion comprised of the following individuals:
Moderator: Josh Hollander – CEO, Horton International North America
Panelist: Leesa Schipani – Partner, Kardas Larson (and CTmrg board member)
Panelist: Anurag Shah – Co-Founder & CEO, Aureus Analytics
Panelist: Earl Valencia – Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer, Plentina
There were quite a few takeaways. Some might be familiar, but it’s always good to get a refresher:
- Personality and fit are as important as skills. “Can do” differs from “Will do.” When building a culture, it’s important that the team members can work together in a positive environment.
- If part time to start is an option, make sure it fits the role. This might work for marketing, finance, and support roles. However, it may not work for technical and engineering roles, as it may not be structured enough for them.
- Good management is all about relationships. If you’re in it for the employees first and the company second, you’ll have greater retention. It’s important to care about your people.
- Core values should be truth and transparency. One panelist spoke about being truthful to a potential employee, sharing both the pros and cons of working for the business.
- There was a discussion about ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and why now is not the time to cut this from the budget.
Some other takeaways that are relevant for startups include:
- The definition of top talent differs at different stages of the business. Early on, anyone who’s willing to work with you is considered top talent.
- Ask the potential employee what their 5-year plan is. Does it match working with a startup?
- Equity vs. full pay. Younger employees are more interested in full pay, since they’re just starting to build a nest egg. A more seasoned employee might be better positioned to accept an equity deal.
- One challenge is that your most valuable employees when starting your business (generalists) aren’t always your most valuable employees as you grow (specialists).
- An employee satisfaction survey should be part of the overall company evaluation.
- Advisory boards are beneficial. Set aside equity for advisors, and choose leaders of companies that are several stages ahead of you.
- The CEO and management team need to embrace their roles as Chief Talent Officers (CTOs).
The discussion with the panel reminded me that HR, like most other aspects of business, is all about communication. These days, the information you’re putting out there for potential employees to see is as important as what you’re providing potential customers. It is critical to manage HR like business development. Don’t always be reaching out. Create content that interests top talent and attracts them to your company. Also, if you have a recruitment referral bonus program for your employees, teach them how to be ambassadors for your company. It doesn’t help to go from a $500 bonus to a $1,000 bonus if employees don’t have the tools to promote working at the company.
Overall, it was an excellent event. The speakers were very knowledgeable and shared some great insights. The venue was also very nice. The event was hosted at the Trinity College Liberal Arts Action Lab at Constitution Plaza, a very convenient location in downtown Hartford. I would consider attending more CEF events.
If you need a communication plan, contact us and together we can discover the right approach for your HR needs.