The young first time CEO looked and sounded pleased. He’d just made an offer to a candidate for his head of Human Resources and the candidate had accepted. After almost a year of searching for the appropriate candidate and after making do with sub-optimal stop gap solutions, it appeared that that search would come to an end. It had happened out of the blue.
The CEO had been contemplating restructuring of his company for a while. This restructuring had been necessitated by the company’s rapid expansion into new geographies, addition of several new lines of business and increased complexity of a rapidly growing business. To help him understand and accomplish this, he wanted to take the advice and guidance of experienced industry professionals. He approached his board of directors and was accordingly introduced to several senior executives. Over the course of the past 18 months, he had met many of them. They all shared their experiences and offered their suggestions. The CEO invited many of them to his company to talk to his young staff about various aspects of company building, of managing business and their learning. All the while, he was grappling with the ever intensifying problem of not having an experienced individual to run his HR function.
He had realized the complexities involved in establishing a top class HR function. One that ensured that his company had an abiding culture and stayed true to its values. It meant hiring someone who shared the vision of his company and who understood that recruitment was but a tiny part of the job of company building. Training, motivating, developing, counseling, performance management, assessments, job rotations, structuring job descriptions, setting monitoring payment and evaluation criteria, employee satisfaction and the like were becoming crucial requirements. The company had far outgrown its initial small core team. New hires, many of them very experienced, were coming on board and the CEO was clear that the culture and values of the company had to be retained and nurtured.
In the course of his conversations with the various senior industry experts, the CEO realized that the current organizational structure and reporting relationships had to change. Decision making had to become more decentralized to ensure flexibility and speed, while retaining some central control to ensure consistency. He engaged with these and other experts in understanding different kinds of organization structures, the pros and cons of these, the kind of maturity and management processes required to make such a structure work. He, most importantly, appreciated the fact that the structure of the company had to fit its strategy and not the other way around. Given his ambitious growth strategy for the company, it soon became abundantly clear that the structure had to change to support this strategy.
The contours of the new structure began to take shape. But to run this new structure would require senior managers who would, in effect be mini-CEOs, responsible for the business in their regions. Where would he hire these people from? Who would in turn help him manage them? The CEO asked for help and suggestions from the industry experts. He was given various leads and suggestions. Some worked, some didn’t. He also realized that the time had come for a structured HR system to be in place run by an experienced HR professional. But where would such a person be found? One who was sufficiently experienced and motivated enough to consider joining a young company by taking stock in lieu of only cash as compensation.
The CEO kept in touch with these industry experts over the course of the many interactions. He also kept in touch with the additional contacts each of these experts in turn provided. And then one day, out of the blue, he received an email from one of the first persons he had been introduced to, almost a year ago. This person being very busy had not had the time to meet with our CEO as frequently as the others. But he had been the recipient of many emails from him and had been updated on the company’s progress or lack thereof. This person, via this email, had strongly recommended and referred a candidate for the position of head of HR to our CEO. The resume looked too good to be true. The CEO wasted no time in reaching out to this individual and before long, an offer was made and an acceptance received.
Going out, meeting and staying in touch with people, leveraging relationships to build new ones, and then aggressively following up to seek advice are what helped our CEO. Doing business is about relationships. Develop them.
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Guest article by Sanjay Anandaram, a passionate advocate of entrepreneurship in India; He brings close to two decades of experience as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, venture investor, faculty member, advisor and mentor. He’s involved with Nasscom, TiE, IIM-Bangalore, and INSEAD business school in driving entrepreneurship. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed here are his own.