Startups are in a constant competition for two resources — capital and talent. Building a system to properly scale your business while maintaining your company culture is vital to a startup’s success. We figured there would be no better person to join us for a webinar to chat all things hiring and scaling than Julia Kauffman.
Julia started her career in enterprise and eventually made the transition to High Alpha and is currently the VP of People & Admin at Mandolin. If there is one person who knows what it takes to properly scale the headcount at an early stage startup, it’s Julia. Check out the recording and our favorite takeaways below:
A couple of quick highlights from the webinar:
Contract for Hire
When hiring at the early stage it is crucial that you make hires that are “athletes” and can flex to any role while fitting in with your team and culture. Julia personally uses a contract with potential employees. This means that she offers short term contract (usually 30 days) to see how a potential employees fits with the team and culture then goes on to make a full time offer.
When scaling headcount it is important to have a standard onboarding process for new employees. Julia likes to use ongoing training and development to help employees find success. One of the things Julia recommends is a regular competitive analysis. In short, the team takes a lot at their competition so they have a solid understand of the business and the market. This can be done at the individual or team level.
Julia also likes to leverage 1 on 1s to help with ongoing development. On a weekly basis Julia sits down and talks for 30 minutes with employees to talk about anything they’d like. This can be work, blockers, projects, anything they’d like, etc. On a quarterly basis Julia blocks an hour with employees to talk about personal development and their job so they know they have time to talk about it and their personal development.
Mission, Vision, and Values
Maintaining your startup culture as you scale can be difficult. Having your mission, vision, and values in place is essential as you hire and bring on new employees. When asked how companies should define their initial values, Julia recommends surveying everyone in the organization on what their values are, then you can pass those on to the leadership team to pick the ones that will be used at the core of decision making for the company.
Outside of job boards there are some interesting ways to source new candidates. Julia suggests checking out communities and different groups. Get in the habit of networking and engaging with different communities to source candidates from new and qualified places. Another source can be partners and organizations you are already working with. If done right and respectfully, this can tap into an entirely new network and candidate pool.
Equity can be an integral part of attracting and retaining top talent. However, there can be confusion and questions surrounding equity. There are differing views on how to handle discussing and sharing cap table information. Julia believes that you need to (1) explain how and why you give out equity and (2) show employees everything and talk through the details. While it can be difficult to be transparent, most employees will understand and want to work through the details.
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