Startup Staffing Grid Means of Specifying Skills, Timing and How to Hire for Each Function

 In Benefit Venture Blog, Implementing, Tools

Startup Staffing Grid: How to work out what skills and experience are needed to run your business may seem pretty obvious. However, it’s worth taking time to figure out what they are and when you’ll need them. Some abilities will be needed right away. Some you’ll need full-time, others you can sub-contract or outsource, as and when needed.

Using the startup staffing grid you can identify what’s needed, when and how you’ll meet the need at an early stage. Then you will not be tearing your hair out later, wondering how to deal with the problem. Here is a startup staffing grid, though of course, you’ll need to adapt it to your special circumstance, with the right subjects on the two axes.

The general rule to apply is not to hire unless absolutely essential. Any action that avoids adding to overhead and commitment at the beginning is basically good. There are many examples of venture funded startups where an excess of liquidity has turned out to be a disadvantage! It allows ‘over-hiring’ people to fill jobs that may change rapidly.

Startup Staffing Grid (example)

startup staffing grid

Flat Organization

If you do absolutely have to hire people, make sure that you have a flat organization. Happily a flat organization is almost synonymous with starting your own business. Don’t build hierarchies, or so-called ‘stovepipe’ structures. Make sure you hire people that are highly motivated, share the vision and have personal traits that you respect. Look at staffing across the organization, rather than dealing with recruitment piecemeal. Use of the startup staffing grid will help you to see the full picture and jobs in context.

The incentives you offer don’t always need to be financial, but make sure that people are going to commit and give them a real reason to be there. When you are hiring, avoid denigrating yourself. You are starting the business, after all. I made the mistake of thinking since I was not a trained sales person, and that I should get in professionals.

My cofounder and I were unconscious competents in sales. Our sales success was perhaps due to our passion for our product and a determination that it should benefit our clients. There’s help on understanding more about competence, in the Conscious Competence Matrix tool. Have a look, too at my post on Staffing a Startup, before you use the startup staffing grid.

Cofounders, Partners and Key Colleagues

The choice of cofounders, partners and key colleagues is fraught with risk. Don’t therefore make decisions that you may regret later. Ensure that the conditions you offer people are really clear. If you are going into partnership or taking on senior management, be prepared to spend a lot of time working out whether your values are really shared; how you are going to divide responsibilities; what will be the share of ownership or income; who will measure success and by what yardsticks. This may sound harsh at a point when you are full of get-up-and-go, but I learned from bitter experience that it’s better done before you start.

Make sure you value the talent of your people. Remember that those who may be paid the least may still have a high impact on your success. Don’t confuse the impact with the cost of people. Someone who answers the phone can make or break you.

Salary Disparities and Discrimination

Avoid huge salary disparities. In 2015 US CEOs earned 335 times the pay of the average worker. Avoid such a ratio. It is both bad for the company and its culture and bad for the economy. In 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) passed a ruling that required public companies to report the ratio of compensation for their CEO in comparison to that of a median employee. While, of course this does not apply to fledgling ventures, I think it will encourage entrepreneurs to avoid huge salary disparities.

Large racial and gender wage gaps in the US remain, even as they continue to narrow. Research from McKinsey makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially. This applies as much if not more so to startups, since the effect of recruitment choices and HR policies are so crucial to early business success.

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