A simple guide for an HR organisation in start-ups/scale-ups

It’s never too early.

  • the HR duties are distributed amongst the managers & the leadership,
  • I have more urgent roles to hire before this one,
  • this role will bring us more problems than solutions…

Trust me, it’s always easier to start from a blank page than to correct mistakes.

Starts with basics.

  • Your payroll system is working: people are paid on time, without any errors.
  • You’re fulfilling all legal requirements: your working contracts are in place, you have implemented the policies that are compliant with your company size and location of your offices, you respect all health & security protection for your employees.
  • You have a basic employee & manager service:
  • employees know what their main responsibilities are, how they are assessed and rewarded;
  • managers have access to their team’s basic needs (holiday management, compensation history, etc.) and know how to manage performance of their direct reports.
  • You have a generic recruiting process that allows you to hire talents that fits your organization & culture.

Don’t get trapped by the 5-legged sheep

Talent Acquisition: your ambassadors

  • how many people do you need to hire this year (and the next to come)?
  • What kind of profiles? Tech vs non-tech / seniority level / international
  • Tooling & structuring: We already talked about tooling. Implementing an ATS is a big project and a time-consuming one at first. It’s also never ending as you always want to challenge the way you do things, and add more and more functionalities along the way. It goes the same with structuring: what kind of interview you want to do, who will be the interviewers and how to train them to be efficient… the more structure upstream, the easier it gets to find the right talents.
  • Campus Management: if you’re hiring interns or consider it, it’s nice to have someone in charge, who’s going to relay your offers in the schools you’re aiming for, create strategic partnerships and generate a specific pipeline and process.
  • Employer branding: it’s not only about finding the right candidates, Talent Acquisition is also about advertising how awesome your organisation is internally. Employer branding is reaching out to passive candidates that are looking for a specific culture — you really want to work on that if you want to scale properly.
  • Onboarding: after the offer is accepted, you want the candidate to have an awesome onboarding experience, and start the honeymoon period since day one. I usually put onboarding on the People Development side, but it can be on the TA side as well, it really depends on how much time your recruiter(s) have on their hand.

People Partners / HRBPs: your role models

People Expertise: your rock stars

  • Legal & Compliance: especially if you’re a french company (or subsidiary), you know how complex and time-consuming legal law subjects can take. From having all your legal templates to managing your employees’ representatives, putting in place the needed policies or only respecting the health and security rules… all of that could be under a specific role in your organisation. You also have regular disputes that require a Legal law expert, even if they’re handled by the HRBPs. And finally, as the evolution of work goes, the more peculiar you have to be in terms of remote working, or handling a worldwide pandemic, workforce wise.
  • Compensation & Benefits: in my opinion, this role should be a basic in every organisation. It is just the most important thing for every single employee: how to get paid. Yes of course, we aim at great responsibilities, challenging missions and a fulfilling career… But money (e.g. your salary) is still the fuel of everyone’s life. Organizing the way you deal with compensation, benefits, equity, bonuses and all financial incentives and rewards should be a priority for every company that is relying on their talent to succeed, and therefore every HR organisation.
  • Learning & Development: As Henry Ford said it best “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.“ Our generation and the next are not like the last ones: we don’t stay long at one company, and the subordinate link between the company and the employee is more and more fainting. People are eager to follow their dream (job), wanting to learn something new everyday, and get new exciting challenges along the way. Also, we don’t want to learn about the 30-ish books of 70’s management philosophy but get actionable and interactive training. It’s time for ‘pick & choose’ and mass customization, and the more specific and personalized learning tools employees want, the more effort you need to put in HR-wise. Having someone responsible for this critical part of the business (yes it is, because you need highly-trained professionals to achieve your ambitious business goals) is mandatory at some point.
  • Other expertises: apart from those 3 no-brainers expertises above, you find a lot more depending on the size of the company and also the type of business or employees you have. For example, the more ‘digital’ your company is, the more effort you’re going to put into tooling & automation. Therefore, having someone specialized in HRIS could become very useful. You also have onboarding specialists that could optimize your onboarding experience if you hire a lot of people. And when you grow internationally, you encounter various cases of relocation and international mobility that could trigger a specific hire on this matter. Also, someone fully dedicated to Diversity & Inclusion will make a huge difference.

Scale before you fail

It’s all about team dynamics

  1. Everyone understands the common goal, and is putting this goal above their own personal agenda. It means at some point that their scope may seem reduced, because it’s shared with someone else, but it’s actually not because the size of scope is increasing on its own. The scope is not reducing, it’s actually getting more complex, with deeper verticals, and more people in a mix — so sure, you’re not in charge of the whole Sales Department anymore, but get excited by the strategic accounts you get to make grow. It’s very important to let go of the past and accept the change. Especially when the change is happening twice a year at least. Don’t hesitate to read this wonderful article that explains better what I’m trying to say.
  • daily/weekly standups: making sure everyone has visibility on everyone else’s work, even though it’s not on your direct scope.Spot issues & blockers quickly and increase peer working.
  • retrospectives: having regular gatherings where you can share what works well and what should be improved. It’s very important to ensure a safe space where people can complain (constructively) and share issues, and find solutions to work better together.
  • kick-offs OKRs: I love getting the whole team involved in our quarterly OKRs, and also on our annual roadmap. It ensures everyone is aligned with where we want to go and how. It also gives much more ownership and accountability on your roadmap.


  • It’s never too early: get your HR hire as early as possible
  • Start with basics: before pumping your ride, make sure the basics are working.
  • Don’t get trapped by the 5-legged sheep: prioritise your HR needs and differentiate the profiles:
  • Talent Acquisition: your ambassadors
  • People Partners / HRBPs: your role models
  • People Expertise: your rock stars
  • Scale before you fail: anticipate your needs
  • It’s all about team dynamics: team goes before the individuals, give them the best space to shine.




HR Leader for tech fast-growing companies. Chief People Officer at Back Market.

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albane bressolle

albane bressolle

HR Leader for tech fast-growing companies. Chief People Officer at Back Market.

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