Job titles are the vanity license plates of the workplace.
Beware of title-first people.
People who lead with “what’s the title?” not “what’s the problem you’re solving?” are people to watch very, very carefully.
👉 They will ace your interviews.
👉 They will dazzle you and have all the right answers. 👉 They will have compelling backgrounds and seemingly been the lynchpin at each role they worked in before. It’s a wonder those companies didn’t do more to keep such an individual. 👉 Euphemisms like “rockstar” and “ninja” follow them like groupies at a mall concert. 👉 They will have had some “bad experiences” in the past as well, perhaps short-durations in jobs here and there but have the charisma to dismiss them well enough that you will dismiss them as well.
You will want to hire them and, even when the Rewards and People teams question why they deserve XYZ title, you will find yourself using the same justifications they deftly gave you. You might even let slip that they might be a rockstar or ninja, and that we’d be foolish to let this one slip through our fingers.
The title matters. Dont mistake me. But people who are title-first are actually money-first and prestige-first and self-first.
I’ve never seen anyone who worried first about their title in a new role care about their people, their team, their work output or their company more than themselves.
And they will choose what adds to their prestige, influence, and power every. single. time there’s a choice to be made.
And some of them are in your company right now.
One of them might be who you looked at in the mirror this morning.
A lot of entrepreneurs talk about the power of “and”. It’s a mental shift where you walk someone through the journey from “I hate work. I need better life balance” to “What work can I do AND have better life balance?”
See that? Subtle, but powerful.
We do it all the time in our lives. Eggs AND bacon. Dinner AND a movie. Peanut butter AND jelly. Two is better than one, economies of scale and all that.
So it’s natural when i see companies who need their first HR teams/experts because they need good policies, but they’re also hiring a ton so they need good recruiting, so they naturally combine these roles into a People AND Recruiting function! Problem solved!
Not so fast.
Reality is, in our bacon and eggs example above, you would never ask the chicken to make both eggs and bacon. They are fundamentally different things.
(Follow my logic here one more second)
We love the outcome of the combo. But precisely because they are so different do they pair so well together! “Eggs and Chicken” is just not as appealing, although the supply chain and scaling opportunities would be exponentially simplified!
In the end, it’s a little silly to ask one person to be in charge of such vastly different things and do them all well:
Care about all employees. Make them feel valuable.
Write policies for all employees. Make sure things are fair and everyone’s rights are maintained.
Hire new people to the team. All the teams. Make sure they are the best people, too.
Onboard and hire everyone. That employment paperwork is the worst. Make sure we don’t get in legal trouble.
Oh, make sure we cut costs, too. Gotta keep and eye on the bottom line.
We have to keep up our hiring in sales or we won’t hit our sales numbers.
An engineer left. Can you find another replacement?
We think an internship program would be great. Mind slapping one of those together. Has to be awesome.
Ah, there’s some questions about remote work and office expenses. Can you do a thing about that? Make it fair but not too generous.
This person needs a work visa renewed? Can you make that happen?
We always did annual reviews around this time of year. But they suck. Can you fix that and make them not suck, but make sure we also do them?
I think we need a better PTO policy. Will you get me some options?
Are we paying people fairly? We can’t break the bank, but let’s check into that.
I want to hire this person in Minnesota. No problem, right? I told them you’d get them the offer. Oh, they started last Monday, actually.
I’m not sure the employees are getting enough attention. Can you make sure that happens?
Going a little bonkers yet?
Though this is the life I see many “startup” HR, people and talent individuals go through. (And burnout from)
It’s mind-numbingly complex and each of the above scenarios is fraught with legal, logistical and other socially complicated issues.
Do you really want to hinge the legal liabilities AND success of your company’s growth on asking one person to be an expert in employment law, interpersonal relationships, management coaching, all the whole sourcing, screening, attracting and closing top talent across your company?
Would you ask your operations leader to also sell and do tech support? Of course not. But HR people are tasked with these disparate duties all the time
In short, having one person do all these things well is, ridiculous.
For years now, my team and I have been helping companies manage these complexities through a blended, hybrid model of embedded/external consulting and work.
We provide a proven Senior level HR person to directly work with the founding team/C-suite on high level issues. This is often your “point person”, allowing one-point of contact to drive progress and get results/reports.
Backing them up is a team of HR certified professionals who have their hands on all the best, state of the art policies and procedures across the spectrum of “full stack HR”. From vacation policies to workers compensation. Soup to nuts.
We also can consult with your HR system vendors (or find you one) and implement systems and tools to automate your world.
We can work with your attorneys (or ours) to ensure you and your people are compliant and protected.
We are a very, very good recruitment agency too.
Your hiring managers get ONE PERSON to work with, a senior recruiter with many years of experience recruiting the people they are looking for.
Engineers? We compile the best .
Accountants? We’re all credits and no debits.
Operations? We’re well documented leaders here.
Sales & Success? We’ve got your number.
Tech support and customer service? We’re standing by.
C-level executives? We’ll corner-office the market for you.
We can place one-off or multiple roles.
We work under various models ranging from hourly or retained to contingent direct placement, all with an eye on growth, speed, agility and cost-controls.
Got your own internal recruiters? We’ll augment your team and even train them up if you like.
We can start providing you all these services immediately, with a cost structure that would be comparable to hiring just one senior person to your team.
Need more flexibility to control cash? No problem. We start with what you need. AND can provide everything else on demand.
Your company AND ours, we can do great things for your people AND you can get back to business.