A lesson learnt. An expensive lesson, to be specific.
Since my company is in an innovative, radical and fast-moving space, I decided to expand the business radically. The lesson learnt is that: do not do that. There is a value in old-fashion business operations.
Old-fashion, Stirred not Shaken
The old fashion way of doing HR is a huge call for hires, vet them via CV, check their references and give them basic tasks before allowing innovation to flourish. I did not do that. I started with a radical call for hires, not asking for CVs, speaking via zoom, understanding what they can do not what they have done, checking references and asking them to flourish.
That’s not how things work, unfortunately. A few months of experimenting with doing things my way and realising that there is a value to the old-fashion way. We don’t have to completely shake processes up, but we can jumble them around while following the general process.
These are things I’ve done and what I’m doing to change them.
[BAD] Hire people by asking what they can do instead of reading their CVs.
What I did: Instead of asking people to send in their CVs, I asked them about what can they do, what they are good at and how they can practically add value.
Turns out, talk is cheap.
No doubt, I’ve spoken to a few great people. In fact, one analyst is so brilliant and I have so much hope for him to grow and shine.
But the general norm and reality is that you can’t do that. As much as I want to focus on the “you don’t need a university degree” narrative, the reality is that there is a value to having gone through a university education. Not just the hard skills acquired, but also the soft skills, critical thinking and innovative ideas.
Of course, this is not true for everything. For example, in digital media, advertising, computer science. For some skills, a portfolio is needed, not a CV.
Also, grades really don’t mean anything. Scholarship, maybe. Then again, I’ve got scholarships in most of my tertiary education and I saw the network and value that a scholarship brings, beyond just grades.
Lesson learnt: talk is cheap. University degree and portfolio is more meaningful.
[BAD] Take all references at face value.
What I did: Of course, I called references and spoke to them. They all spoke highly of the candidates. I’ve also asked good questions and gotten some quality feedback.
Turns out, you have to read between the lines.
Honestly, I think people who applied are qualified. A good amount of them have self-selected themselves to be a value-adding individual to the fast growing company. I call references to check and clarify that they are the right type of people.
But some people are more suitable to other types of working styles, not the kind that I am building. So that is a bad match at the get go.
Lesson learnt: listen between the lines of the references. People are good and strong at what they do. But their skillsets are not a great match with the company’s current focus.
[BAD] Fully Remote Work
What I did: Focus on remote workers because it’s covid anyway. And all my clients are remote.
Turns out, when you’re starting a company, keeping the team close is key.
There is a huge value in remote work. Especially when I’m turning into a night owl because everyone is on the other side of the world. So remote workers on other continents are fantastic because they can continue conversations for people on the other timezones.
But when building a team and culture, it’s best to keep everyone in the same area or same country. That’s the best way to grow and align the operations towards growing the company.
Lesson learnt: crawl before you run. Tight-knit team because expanding globally.
A costly but important lesson learnt. But now, I know better about what I want and what needs to be done. So for that, it’s an expensive lesson with good ROI.
Learning, failing fast and rising again.