Building Your HR Early – Tools & Culture

Published March 31, 2015

Having breakage points of trust and culture are some of the biggest risk points in early stage companies since so much relies on human capital. The startup ecosystem was designed to collaborate, open source, provide others with the mistakes we had so they could succeed quicker in their endeavors. There has been a lot of news recently about companies and firms having a disconnect with company culture and fair treatment of employees; we thought this would be a great time to provide some basic, yet crucial pieces of knowledge.

Visible is still a small, distributed team, we have bi-monthly 1-on-1 chats with every teammate (regardless of role), outside of conference calls and slack communication to make sure everyone is building Visible together and that everyone is happy.

Building a HR team early in a company is generally not a necessity, plus an additional cost before having a complex hierarchy, hitting market fit, and pushing market growth. This does not mean that the foundation of HR should be overlooked. Early HR is the mix of company culture and legal compliance so that everyone can focus on their work rather than worry about if they’ll be treated fairly from any situation.

Here are a few pieces of advice we want to provide to young companies…

Make sure you have the HR basics

  • Get your team involved early: Policies & culture are for them; the rules need to be sourced by them, not a great blog article you found of Medium. By the people, for the people.
  • Have a living document of general policies everyone can see: Culture changes from 3 to 300 people, make sure your policies and culture are documented over time (great piece to show culture progression at an ‘all-hands’ meeting).
  • Use your network: You’ll normally have friends at larger companies who have in depth HR policies or may work in HR themselves (possible future employee sourcing too).
  • Keep everything transparent (The Open Kimono Policy): Team stand-ups and project tracking have become mainstream to create a lean and quick company, but most people forget that this also opens up trust. Always be constructive when people open up on what they’re working on (“Yes, and…”) and have avenues for everyone to work with each other (Check out Flock for Distributed Stand-ups and OKRs).
  • The Visible Classic – Tap into Your Investors: Your investors are advisors and connectors. It can be easy for them to reach out to another portfolio company to have them share with your their documents or even their HR team.

Here are some sources we thought could get you started with HR


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