5 HR Evaluation Strategies Any Early Founder Should Know

5 HR Evaluation Strategies Any Early Founder Should Know

Embarking on the journey of organizational growth requires a keen understanding of roles, responsibilities, and strategic hiring decisions. In this exploration, we delve into the insightful perspectives shared by Camille Dunshee,Talent Manager at Atento Capital. Her unique approach sheds light on innovative strategies that encompass job requisition rubrics, touch-base conversations, hiring strategy tests, and the optimal timing for bringing in full-time talent.

1. Deep dive into roles and responsibilities

Delving into the intricacies of roles and responsibilities is a pivotal exploration for any company aspiring for success. The bedrock of success lies in meticulous organizational planning, the resilience of organizational charts, and judicious hiring choices. Thus, a profound examination of roles and responsibilities becomes paramount in accurately gauging the hiring needs. 

In this context, Camille Dunshee, the astute Talent Manager at Atento Capital, unveils a pioneering approach her team employs—the innovative and comprehensive job requisition rubric.

Explaining what makes this tool unique, Camille notes: “There are a few different components that go over each facet of the role: what the top three responsibilities are, who reports into them, what tech they need to know, etc.”

“The founders go through and list out those typical duties and responsibilities and then - this is something that you don't often see - who are they going to be working with, what decision-making authority they have, who are they going to supervise. etc. Having this laid out in this way is very helpful,” she adds. 

In a groundbreaking step, the same set of questions is extended to the existing team members, garnering their perspectives on their own roles. The data thus collected serves as a compass for evaluating individual performance—distinguishing excelling employees, those who have room for growth within the team, as well as those who might not align with the organization's future vision. 

Overall, Camille acknowledges the novelty of this method while underscoring its immense potential in revolutionizing talent evaluation.

2. Maintain a consistent vision and structure

After surveys and hiring, it's crucial to establish and maintain regular touch-base conversations with founders. 

According to Camille, the way they do this as a team is through monthly check-ins. 

“We have them [the founders] fill out a survey before, where they talk about how their hiring, fundraising, and business development is going. We cover those functions in [meetings that are] sometimes monthly or [take place] a couple of times a month initially until we feel like there's a good foundation,” she explains. 

Afterwards, they start to meet with them less frequently—based on the needs—the cadence setting itself up naturally. 

Camille underscores the significance of these touch-base conversations, emphasizing that their impact extends beyond the talent team. In a concerted effort, perspectives from business development specialists, fundraising experts, venture partners, and the overarching investments team are woven into these discussions. This holistic approach is intentional, aimed not just at preserving but enhancing the uniformity of vision and structural integrity within the collaborative framework.

3. Test your hiring strategy 

Putting hiring strategy to the test can be a wise move for startups before committing to permanent decisions.

Illustrating this approach, Camille shares an insightful example involving a company in which they had invested. The founders—headquartered in Toronto—strategically deployed a commission-only sales model for their product, initially focusing on the local market, before venturing into Tulsa. 

“I thought it was interesting that they tested it out before bringing it to Tulsa, and we were still in the early stages of that process,” she stresses. 

Such tests, according to her, can lead to reevaluation, paving the way for more informed and nuanced hiring choices. In particular, when startups are low on the runway or need a reality check about their situation, the data from this testing can guide startups to reassess their hiring decisions, leading them to explore alternative routes, such as leveraging interns, contractors, or fractional personnel. 

This approach indeed provides agility and adaptability in the ever-evolving landscape of startup dynamics.

4. Bring in a full-time talent person when ready

Deciding when to hire a full-time HR professional depends on the company's size and org chart structure. 

Referring to the correct timing when portfolio companies can employ such a person, Camille notes: “Once you get to the 25-30 person mark, that's when it's great to bring someone. And then the rule of thumb is usually one HR person per a hundred people at the bare minimum to just keep up with the basics.”

This strategic approach ensures that as a company grows, it has the necessary support in place to manage its human resources effectively.

5. Make informed decisions

Ensuring well-informed decisions is crucial in the realm of hiring. Often founders express a need for a specific role, yet the actual requirements may differ significantly. 

The key to making sound choices lies in obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the spectrum of positions associated with the desired role.

In pursuit of clarity, Camille employs a methodical approach, engaging founders in a dialogue about their needs: “What I've done is I've asked them: What are your must-haves? What are you needing? You could even make a chart. If you're looking for a marketing person, you could chart out Chief Marketing Person, Director Marketing Manager, Marketing Coordinator, etc.”

She also adds: “And this is where I love using AI, to organize information about salaries, the typical job duties, and anything else that may be helpful from  the job requisition.” 

This, according to her, will allow founders to understand what exactly they want from that role - whether it’s only collaboration, execution, or decision-making. 

Final Thoughts

In summary, Camille Dunshee's insights offer a strategic roadmap for organizational growth and talent management. From the innovative exploration of roles and responsibilities to the establishment of consistent touch-base conversations with founders, the approach prioritizes adaptability and foresight. The importance of strategic testing in hiring decisions, coupled with the recommendation to bring in a full-time HR professional at the right juncture, reinforces the commitment to a resilient organizational structure. Camille's emphasis on informed decision-making, employing a methodical process and leveraging AI, provides a clear guide for aligning talent with vision. These insights serve as a concise compass, fostering purposeful growth and strategic talent acquisition for startups.


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