HR challenges in a Tech startup

Surviving your first day at a tech startup as an employee especially when you are the HR is a herculean task. I will tell you why.

Culture Shock

First, you are overwhelmed with the amount of technology being used by the company for internal processes including something as simple as messaging, e-mailing or ordering a pizza (though there are only 5 people in the office). Such technology-driven work is sure to hit an HR person hard in the chest.

Establishing your Role

Next, you have to set expectations, come with month’s goals, things-to-do lists and you will have role ambiguity while you are it. The business is new, you have to orient yourself with it, and start delivering at the same time. Supremely tough, when you get only a “hello” for induction.

Dealing with Current Projects

If your target is to recruit candidates proficient in Joomla, Ruby on Rails, Python, or Mongo DB; you simply cannot get to work in technical recruitment unless you know what these jargons mean. How would you assess the candidates being an HR manager? You will be so dependent on the techies and your boss for every leg of the process. You will become a victim of micro-management and autonomy will be light years away from you.

Preparation for Future Projects

You are obsessively trying to be a tech-geek, studying the IT field for 24 hours a day. You are also trying to recruit new people during the first two months. What you do not see coming is the consequences of recruitment hitting smack across the face.

You are totally unprepared for the upcoming contingencies:

  • no onboarding process in place
  • no infrastructure for new recruits
  • no policies, rules or guidelines for work

This is going to be disastrous for the company’s culture as you are not yet ready for employee management. The department has concentrated on recruitment so much that there is been no breather for other tasks. There you go, the attrition rate is going to increase.

Tailoring HR Projects and Initiatives

The work in a Tech startup is pretty alien compared to other industries. So, tailoring HR initiatives for employees is a humongous challenge. You simply can not apply the best practices of other companies to this one and simply customise them.

You have to hash out details and develop unique HR strategies from scratch. There is no manual to tell you what is right or wrong:

  • The rules for HR-employee and HR-management relationships are ambiguous
  • The hierarchy and protocols are diminished
  • Communication is through apps and not personal
  • The chain of command is not lucid.
  • The workflows are very intricate and tangled

So, the initiatives you take has to fit the employees, should be in trend and be technologically sound to achieve the maximum success rate.

The way forward is unknown

You do not have guidelines. You have to bank on experiments; trial and error methods; and start with the very basic foundation.

Establishing a successful HR team and employer brand is going to be a long haul. Meanwhile,

  • Patience and smart work are important
  • Keep abreast of what is happening in the industry
  • Revamp your own profile
  • Become a brand ambassador
  • Advocate your brand through your professional profile

This way clients are attracted to you and through you, they reach the company.

One thing is for sure, Image management has to be up from day one!


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