How to Scale up Your Talent Function in Hypergrowth

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Let’s say your company is planning to grow 5x times this year, from 100 to 500 employees. How will you build and scale your talent team? Where to start? How to scale up effectively? How to measure success? 

Let’s break this down into key points about analyzing your talent pool, setting priorities, optimizing processes, and building high-performing and diverse teams in hypergrowth mode. 

The article is based on the MatcHR webinar with Lindsay Ross, CHRO at Bitpanda. Therefore, tons of real-life examples and insights are waiting for you inside!

What Is a Company’s Hypergrowth?

Simply put, hypergrowth means the company scales up several times during a relatively short time. 

In practice, it looks like this:

The question is, how to scale like this in a good way?

You can find 13 points below to help you move in the right direction. 

13 Points to Help You Scale up Your Talent Function in Hypergrowth

Point #1: Get the context and take stock

It is easy to jump in and start building, but you’ll never get this opportunity again. That’s why, when you land into a company that is going through hypergrowth, get context and take stock. 

Figure out the business drivers and the numbers:

  • What is everybody speaking about? 
  • Where are you trying to go as an organization? 
  • What is ambition?

When these questions are answered, you’ve got to think about where you want to go and clear where you are. 

This is going to help you identify the gaps. 

Point #2: Get clear on where you are

The first you should focus your attention on is people. Analyze how many roles you need and how many positions are already filled.

For tech companies, most employees should be either tech, engineering, or product specialists. 

Next to this is a commercial area, including growth and enabling functions staff (legal, financial, hr, and other parts). Business operations specialists (customer support, payment operations, account management, etc.) are also needed. 

When you look at the overall idea of your target distribution and where you are today, you can see the gaps. If suddenly you see in the enabling functions you are at 25-30%, you might conclude that you are not efficient and don’t invest in the appropriate areas. 

This analysis will help you shape a significant part of the growth strategy.  

Point #3: Know your people (Who’s on the bus?)

You’ve probably seen this nine-box model before:

Working with this matrix takes too much time; it’s very complicated, nobody understands it, and nobody likes to create it.

What you can do is focus on talent density instead. Here is a simplified model you can use:

Break down your employees into four groups:

  • A-players. These are potential future leaders. Deal with your line managers –  they know who are their A players. 
  • Core. These are people doing what they need to do. But the question remains if we can grow them and can they stay with us for 6+ months.
  • Core+. These are folks you want to coach up, invest, and get into A player spot.
  • Questionable folks. It could be people who are underperforming, who don’t fit from a cultural perspective, or who are in the wrong role. 

Once you define your A players, Questiannables, Cores, and Core+, you will have a clear picture of the current state of your talent pool. 

Don’t forget about “Criticals”

Define your critical players and critical roles. (These are different things.)

Everybody likes to be a critical player. But having critical players on the bus is a bad thing. And the reason that is a bad thing is because the organization depends on one person or several people. 

To remove the dependency, you need to do the following:

  • Get the knowledge out of those people’s heads and put it elsewhere. (For example, in MatcHR, we created the Employee Handbook to store the knowledge within a single place.)
  • Hire other people who can share the workload.

Next to that, you have critical roles which have the highest impact on the business, but these are tough in organizations to define and fill. That is why you need to understand which roles are critical and ensure you have the best people (A players) in these roles – currently (planning) and in the future (pipeline building).

Point #4: Build the red thread

Sharpen how you work together across cultures, countries, and time zones. It is the foundation of your culture and the thing that will unite everybody.

When creating your company’s “DNA,” step away from those ambiguous value statements that everybody has different interpretations of, and nobody’s 100% clear what it means to tactical key pillars of making decisions and working together. 

For example, at Bitpanda, the company’s “DNA” contains the following key pillars:

  • Build for all users
  • Act with integrity
  • Think big, move fast
  • Win as a team
  • Speak up, talk straight
  • Own your impact
  • Love what you do

Such clear points fuel your employee competencies against which they are measured from an impact perspective. You can ask if candidates like working this way and are they good at working this way. If so, this is the place for them.

Recommended post: Talent Mapping: How to Build a Strong Sourcing Strategy

Point #5: Shape your way of operating

COVID has fundamentally transformed the world of work. What we see is that companies have been adapting fast. Hierarchy, structures, titles, and banding are being replaced by agility, dynamic and responsive management, and fast decision making. Corporate ladders going from a manager to a senior manager, director, senior director, VP, SVP, EVP, and Chief, don’t exist anymore. Today, it’s much more interesting to zoom in and talk about freedom, responsibility, trust, and personal growth because everybody’s path is different. 

Primarily out of this whole COVID situation, the biggest element that’s come out of this is flexibility. People want to choose where they work, how they work, and how to balance work and life. No matter what organization you deal with, you have a few choices: you can go to fully remote, do your twist on a hybrid, or ask folks to return to the office after the pandemic. 

Whatever choice you make, it’s essential to remember that each option has pros and cons, but the big thing is to be clear on why you’re choosing it and communicate that to your organization. 

For example, Bitpanda is doing a 50/50 hybrid. 50% of the employees’ time can be at home, and 50% can be in the office. They are provided with 60 days to work from abroad or anywhere. All the employees follow the 80/20 rule. This means 80% of employees’ time needs to overlap with their team; the rest is 20% of the time they spend as they want. 

Find that balance and create those clear agreements with your line managers and your team. The important thing is to make sure these guidelines are not hardline policies; you don’t need to be in the position of the police. That slows down your processes and brings your HR a bad rep. 

Point #6: Now amplify

Once you are clear on how you work, what good talent looks like in your organization, and the organizational operation you want, start amplifying it. Get the word out. Deliver the information authentically – meaning don’t try to gloss it up. 

Set the expectations because they serve as filters for people who don’t like the way you work and don’t like the organizational operations you are building. Your organization might not be the right place for them, but they must choose. That’s why you need to be radically clear about what they are signing up for and what you are looking for. 

Now, we are going to zoom in on the hiring world. 

Point #7: Slow down to speed up

Scaling up your talent function is not just about finding and hiring. Consider these five components when building a scalable recruitment process:

  • Time demand. The reality is that the teams are busy. Make sure you have enough capabilities to do all that interviews and handle other tasks. 
  • Quality of hire. If you don’t want to overhaul your processes in the future, you should consider impact over effort. That is why interviewers must be trained to ensure the right people join. 
  • Operational impact. Once you hire 100 people, do they have contracts? Are they enrolled in payroll? Do you have enough hardware to ship them? Is your onboarding ready to absorb them? Can you run an onboarding training session for 50, 60, 70, and more people? Do we have enough desks for folks? All these different things need to think about in workplaces. 
  • Culture. If you fail on the first three components, your high-performing culture will take a massive hit. So, your eNPS, candidate scores, and employee experience go out the window. Culture is a key to your company’s success, and it’s everyone’s job to safeguard it. 
  • Employer brand. Anything not going well internally can be made known externally. Fix such issues as rushed and low-quality hiring/interview process, slow pre-onboarding, and unclarity of roles and responsibilities.

It’s all about time

Every hire needs time. Consider the recruitment funnel to estimate how much time your business needs to invest in hiring the targeted number of people. Then, you will understand if you have enough internal capabilities for this. 

When we look at Bitpanda’s funnel presented below, we see that the business needs to invest 1335 hours to get 100 hires. Is your business ready to this? That’s a good question you need to answer.

Plan, plan, plan…

Consider a few things when you start thinking about your headcount plan, including:

  • What do you plan to achieve by the end of the year?
  • What resources do you need for that?
  • How can you build your teams sustainably? What do you need first?
  • What are realistic times for hiring? (Consider time for the hiring process and notice period.)
  • What role do we need to start hiring against first? (Highlight top priorities.)

Fill your talent gaps

To build a scalable team, you can use different channels, including:

Internal hiring team. What to consider:

  • Build a scalable team with RPO support.
  • Optimize all hiring processes.
  • Train all interviewers.
  • Move to data, not gut. 
  • Optimize testing.
  • Increase sourcing and location data.
  • Optimize systems.

Agencies. What to consider:

  • Create a preferred agencies list.
  • Own the T&Cs and negotiate.
  • Make sure you have a person who will be responsible for managing agencies.

Acquihire. What to consider:

  • Build a Location strategy team or stream.
  • Work with the business, Legal, and Finance on M&A activity.
  • Ensure talent mobility to minimize cultural impact.

Outsourcing. What to consider:

  • Map your contractor process (Procurement, Legal, etc., need to be roped in).
  • Build a provider list – who to use and for what.
  • Own the T&Cs and negotiate.

You can combine these channels to increase the flexibility of your talent functions. For example, you can have your internal team alongside embedded recruiters. This enables you to quickly hire in hyper-growth and don’t spend additional money on the internal team when your company freezes hiring or the growth is slowing down. 

Point #8: Build your team

Everybody has a different take on talent acquisition, and that’s a good thing. Every organization needs its twist. 

Here is an example of the current setup of Bitpanda: 

You can adjust this structure according to your company’s scope and tasks or build your team from scratch. The main thing is that the structure should be clear, simple, and effective regarding interaction and solving tasks. 

Point #9: Optimize your processes

Every single step of the hiring process needs to be optimized. 

On the business side, there’s a lot of time and prioritization. You got to create clear SLAs with your organization. 

On the HR side, there are some things we have to build and get in place, including sourcing strategies, talent data, and executive packages. 

Optimizing all those elements is a time drain for both sides, but if you get them down first, the process scales faster. 

Point #10: Get your tech in order

Everybody has a different preferred core HR IS system. 

Specifically, in the world of talent, you need a strong ATS that facilitates processes, scorecards, and feedback, lets the offer approval go fast, and gets you data. ATS must be tied to your LinkedIn, benchmarking, and scheduling tools. 

Whatever works for your organization, ensure you’ve got all the systems you need and your tech stack is in order. 

Recommended post: 24 Google Chrome Extensions for Recruiters & Sourcers

Point #11: Be competitive

When attracting candidates, always talk about total compensation instead of salary itself. 

Here is an example of the compensation system at Bitpanda:

Instead of compensation ingredients, such as Base, Incentive Bonus, and Equity, you should think about other stuff like perks, life happens, your working model, spot bonuses, and repurchases. These effective selling points need to be clear, structured, and competitive.

Point #12: Kill the “ghosts”

When working on scaling your talent function, you have a ton of pressure. Why is this not moving fast enough? Why is the top of the funnel not good enough? Why am I not getting enough interviews? It is essential to overcommunicate to reduce uncertainty and make the train move. 

You may think that you’re communicating enough, but you never are. So make sure you have those weekly moments with your line managers, regularly send reports, and make people understand what is happening and where you are. 

If you think you’re doing it well enough, it is the right moment to ask for feedback. 

Point #13. Be about the numbers

When you look at Bitapnda’s quarterly scorecard snapshot, you notice three areas of scoring: money, effectiveness, and sustainability. Such an approach enables you to zoom in on areas that are not so effective and find solutions to improve them. 

When you deal with your line managers, consider these snapshots that you should be talking about in weekly meetings:

When you operate with all this data, like the number of open headcount/roles, the number of filled positions, funnel activity, etc., you can have room for improvement.

Wrapping up

Scaling up your talent function in hypergrowth is a big challenge. Let’s sum up what you can do to make this process more effective:

  1. Figure out the business drivers and the numbers.
  2. Analyze how many roles you need and how many positions are already filled.
  3. Define your A players, Questiannables, Cores, and Core+ to have a clear picture of the current state of your talent pool.
  4. Sharpen how you work together across cultures, countries, and time zones.
  5. Shape your way of operating. You can go to fully remote, do your twist on a hybrid, or ask folks to return to the office.
  6. Set the expectations that serve as filters for people who don’t like the way you work and don’t like the organizational operations you are building.
  7. Consider time demand, quality of hire, operational impact, culture, and employer brand when building a scalable recruitment process.
  8. Create a clear, simple, and effective talent team structure.
  9. Optimize hiring processes both on the business and HR sides. 
  10. Ensure you’ve got all the HR IS you need and your tech stack is in order.
  11. When attracting candidates, always talk about total compensation instead of salary itself.
  12. Overcommunicate to reduce uncertainty and make the train move.
  13. Operate with the data, like the number of open headcount/roles, the number of filled positions, funnel activity, etc., to have room for improvement

The last thing we’d like to say is don’t try to create an ideal hiring machine. It is better to start and adjust your processes on the go rather than waste time building all that stuff. No one is safe from mistakes. It is better to fix something as you go than to get stuck trying to build something perfect.

The last thing we’d like to say is don’t try to create an ideal hiring machine. It is better to start and adjust your processes on the go rather than waste time building all that stuff. No one is safe from mistakes. It is better to fix something as you go than to get stuck trying to build something perfect.

If you need support to fill the gaps and optimize your processes, MatcHR will be the right solution for you. We are experts in scaling up talent teams for world-known companies, such as Miro, TikTok, and Grammarly. Get in touch with us to boost your (tech) hiring!

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