This Single Hire Can Make or Break Your Company

We couldn't agree more with Matt! Hiring HR early is key to success. We recommend hiring your first HR team member around 30 employees. Full article from Inc. below... 

Matt Mickiewicz knows a thing or two about starting companies. The serial entrepreneur is the co-founder of some pioneering companies, including Flippa, and (disclosure: I am a small shareholder in Hired). I recently sat down with Matt and asked him about scaling companies, growth, and important hires.

What is the most important hire a company needs to make in order to scale?

Matt Mickiewicz: After doing this a few times, I am convinced you need to hire HR at around 40-50 people. If you don't make the hire at that stage, your company will be in serious trouble.

Why? Your team is the key to your success - HR isn't just about compliance and infrastructure and shouldn't be viewed as a dirty word.

It's an absolutely necessity to be constantly thinking through issues such as diversity, pay disparities and salary benchmarking, company values, career ladders (both management & individual career tracks), equity refreshes, formalized performance reviews, structured interviewing & recruiting best practices and more.

It can create cultural problems within your company if you don't think about extremely early.

Are there any examples of companies that have scaled HR effectively?

MM: I think Fitbit has done a tremendous job of scaling HR. Their work culture reflects exactly the message they are trying to communicate to the outside world - they hold each other accountable for personal health and essentially dogfood their own product.

What is the top issue companies will face with regard to HR?

MM: Yes - without question diversity. Not just gender diversity, but race/ethnicity and other dimensions. The modern workforce will not be able to survive unless its base is diverse, and we are starting to release our own numbers as a first step.

Then as a follow on issue, which is tangential is pay gaps - and again - not just as they relate to gender but other dimensions as well. The companies that focus on solving this problem will be able to recruit the best talent.

What other advice would you give to tech companies looking to scale?

MM: The little things matter, and only get better or worse with time. Things like your maternity/paternity policy, pay equivalencies, and general culture determine whether you will be successful or not. If you can't, or don't have a culture people can identify with, you will churn through employees.

You have to think of "HR Debt" as equivalent to "Technical Debt". 99designs is now over 100 employees, Flippa is at 30 and Hired is over 200 - every company's culture is unique and distinct and that starts from the top. Good leadership is the key.

The Relationship Between Corporate Culture and Performance

“'We found that culture causes performance, not vice versa,' says Michael Gillespie, one of the researchers and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee."

"Dr. Gillespie says it’s best to start small by focusing on individual departments or offices. Targeting the most dysfunctional groups first, for instance, can deliver much bigger results than a more general approach when trying to change an organization, he says."

“Culture change today is at the heart of winning because it’s so difficult for [other] employers to copy.”

Joshua Reeves of Gusto: Directing Without Dictating


An interview with Joshua Reeves on leading while letting go.

"I’ve used crew as a metaphor for leadership. Everybody has to pull on their oar as hard as they can, but then it’s all about balance in the boat, and how the eight individuals connect and flow with each other. The coxswain isn’t telling anyone what to do, but they’re guiding and steering."

"Another lesson was understanding how alignment works, especially in terms of hiring. It’s never about a company convincing someone to join, or people convincing the company to hire them. It’s a search for alignment and realizing they can do amazing things together."

"When I have one-on-ones with teammates, it’s their time, their meeting. It’s a chance for them to help me understand whatever I can do to enable and empower them to do their work better."

What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team


Great read from the New York Times feature "The Work Issue: Reimagining the Office"

"Project Aristotle is a reminder that when companies try to optimize everything, it’s sometimes easy to forget that success is often built on experiences — like emotional interactions and complicated conversations and discussions of who we want to be and how our teammates make us feel — that can’t really be optimized."

"The behaviors that create psychological safety — conversational turn-taking and empathy — are part of the same unwritten rules we often turn to, as individuals, when we need to establish a bond. And those human bonds matter as much at work as anywhere else. In fact, they sometimes matter more."

"The paradox, of course, is that Google’s intense data collection and number crunching have led it to the same conclusions that good managers have always known. In the best teams, members listen to one another and show sensitivity to feelings and needs."