The joy of startup hiring


I’d thought of doing an article to talk about the my very own start up, The Talent Shark. In the last few weeks of getting everything setup, from company registration, licenses, office space and such, I guess before we know it, we’re up and running. Looking back on the last few weeks, it’s been an interesting experience. There wasn’t a moment to relax, but all the efforts, totally worth it!

The one thing that I’ve came to realize is that with every startup, the anxiety of the founder(s) in trying to get everything right, the turning into Uncle Scrooge, and the unstoppable determination of doing a doing a little bit more, comes together in a magical concoction of emotions. I call that the “Startup high”!

Having been in startups myself as an employee, and now embarking on this exciting journey as employee #1 with The Talent Shark, I realized that there’s an enormous amount of support Startup Companies required and is often underserved.

One such area is in the space of hiring. Of course, you can go to a regular recruitment firm, or hire your own team to do it. Having spoken with quite a number of startups in the last couple months, I realized that that’s not often the smartest thing to do. In fact, that is the scariest thing to do as you’re going to either spending a lot of money with the agencies or locking in a huge chunk of capex in hiring your own in-house team.

It was interesting. From those conversations came deals that allowed me to structure a solution that best fit the startup clients. There are many things that every startup has in common:

  • The need to hire for that few key positions
  • Fluctuating hiring needs across the different months/ quarters
  • Feeling the need to “hire” every role at the get go
  • Lack of internal expertise to navigate the HR/ Hiring space
  • Trying to keep cost down to the absolute lowest possible

While there are similarities, no two startups are the same. Everyone I talked to were at a different stage in their journey with different sets of assumptions. Every conversation opened my mind to countless possibilities and working with all these startups just gets your heart racing. The passion from the founders and their relentless drive to make it work is just infectious. It’s like spending time with young people, I felt years younger already!

For example, in one of the projects that we’ve just kicked off, we were working with a company of 2 staff, looking to ramp up across different countries. To kick it off, we looked at the business plan and derived the hiring plan aligned to their business projection. For a small project fee, we’ve not only able to provide in house counsel to the founders and also the muscle to deliver on the hiring. The savings they’ve derived from this engagement is tremendous.

We’ve also had the opportunity to consult with another company in a completely different stage in their startup lifecycle. They’ve in fact done tremendously well in getting their business off the ground and were looking to scale. However, they’ve reached a point where putting more resources into the team doesn’t directly equate to an even output. This is because, the nature of their business had taken on new complexity and this required a relook at their coverage model, evaluating the load and capacity in which the talent acquisition team is managing. In this project, we work closely with the team in mapping out their process and evaluating their hiring plan in the upcoming quarter. It’s just like when you visit the doctor, you get plugged into a machine that takes readings all over your body to paint a complete picture of your health. Here, we look at how much time, effort is taken at each stage of the process. Do keep in mind that different companies have different baseline, so it’s important not to take that “industry norm” and apply it lock stock barrel to the process.

Having that complete process map allows us to work with the management team in making the right changes and investing into the right areas to get that efficiency.

While we all would agree that it’s all about bringing in the right talent into the company, I think there’s a deeper level of engagement and a more process-oriented approach in making that startup hiring process more planful and less painful.

With this, I’m going to end today’s article here. I wanted to give a shout out to all those brave folks out there that’s taken the plunge in starting up your new venture! Do share with me your journey to date. I’m sure there’s a lot of learning I can take away from your stories.

Have a fantastic weekend.

Eric Wong

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

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The future of “Work”


“Work” as we know it has evolved over the years. The organizations of today are a lot more sophisticated than those of yesteryears. I remember not too long ago, where the function of HR (Human Resources) was catering to just personnel administration and management. In fact, in those days, the “HR” function was referred to as the “Personnel Department”. While we can argue that this is merely a choice of words, we all can agree that we’ve come a long way in the evolution of the function. Today, the HR function plays a much more strategic role in the organization.

We’ve all heard about the “Gig Economy”, and the first thing that came to mind are “freelancers” and “contractors” who would engage with an organization for the duration of a project or assignment. While we are not entirely wrong in this assumption, in fact, I would say we are mostly right about this, the fundamental reason why we think this way is due to the traditional role base structure of an organization. We think of an organization as an entity with a predefined structure, and within that structure, there are relatively well-defined roles and we would staff those roles with employees (be it full time, or otherwise) to do the job.

As the organization undergo a slow evolution in its structure, the one thing that we all become very familiar with the increasing engagement of termed employees or contractors in bid of reducing the full-time headcount. Coupled with the increasing trend that tenure in employees are getting shorter, which is due to many different reasons, employees today are evaluating jobs and employment much differently than the previous generations.

This creates challenges on multiple fronts. From the organization to job design perspective and creating meaningful experience to maintain deep engagement with employees throughout their career lifecycle with the company. This also changes the way we define an employer’s value proposition (EVP).

In a recent article by John Boudreau, “Are Freelancers Your Best Performers? Applying Organizational Network Analysis to the Gig Economy” , he talked about looking at the interaction between employees in an organization and that going beyond the traditional org chart. Citing an example from Rob Cross’s work where he applied the ONA on the exploration and production division of a large petroleum organization, we can see the communication map is drastically different to the organization setup.

This got me thinking about the role in which these individuals play and how their job description (JD) would look like. (Ok, I confess. That’s because I was just rewriting the JD for one of the role I’m recruiting for).

Going along with the point that I’m making, if we dissect the “job” that they are doing and compares the individual tasks to the tasks in a project, a “job” is essentially made up of different tasks. Taking that one step further into this “gig economy” discussion, essentially, what needs to be done in an organization would comprise of many tasks. Keeping that in mind, and putting on our radical thinking cap, let’s just say, we put a price tag against each of these tasks, and have a bunch of individuals “build” a “role” by picking/ bidding on these tasks. The amount of money they make will be based on the number of tasks that they can complete and turnaround, and the premium for the “proven quality/ reliability” in completing those tasks.

I’m going to push that idea a step further. Organizations of the future can than look at this group of “Top Performing” individuals and work on a baseline retainer to buy time slots (commitment) so as to guarantee capacity.

In this model, the concept of “work” will become one that is decentralized and itemized. Theoretically, we will break free from the traditional role-based organization and move towards a task-based one. In doing so, we might even mitigate issues such as gender pay parity and workforce efficiency.

Just some crazy thoughts that I needed to get out of my system. (Must be too much JD writing this week). If you’ve made it all the way to this point in my article, thanks for the patience and attention. What’s your thoughts on this? Do share your comments and I would love to hear from you and maybe seek some assurance that I’m not going crazy! Happy Thursday (almost Friday).

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition at Equinix. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong

Wrapping up my campaign – Empowering lives through SPD’s (Formally Society for the Physically Disabled) Employment Support Programme


I can’t say this enough!! A BIG “Thank You” to every one of you who’s responded to my call for action though my personal campaign on for SPD’s (Formally Society for the Physically Disabled) in support for their Employment Support Programme.

Tomorrow’s the last day of the campaign and I’m happy to share with everything that we’ve surpassed our target of SGD1000. Thank you all for your generosity and we are now (9:15am – 11 Aug 2017 +8GMT) at a whopping SGD1245.

As many of you would had known by now that this is a cause that is close to heart for me, and I’ve been a long-time supporter and advocate for SPD’s efforts in helping these individuals in their efforts to become gainfully employed.

I hope through this campaign, we’ve help raised some awareness and support for their cause and I’m very hearten by the responses that I’ve received from everyone that’s responded to my personal campaign.

Once again, a “BIG” Thank You to everyone and as I’m not too shy myself, there is still time to drop off a dollar or two!

I would also like to call to action everyone to continue to work towards a more inclusive workplace. If you are in HR, have a look and see if there are roles that you can identify as a starting point to engage. If you are a hiring manager, have a chat with your HR or recruiter and let them know that you would want to explore the possibility of engaging this talented pool of individuals.

I know that there are organisations such as SPD across the different countries. I’m sure there are already some support and infrastructure out there. Let’s start today and make a real difference.

Find out more about SPD’s Employment Support Programme (Click Here)

Do check out my campaign “Empowering lives through SPD’s Employment Support Programme” (Click Here)

Would also love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can do more and raise the awareness for this cause! Feel free to drop me a message or drop off your comments below!

Thank you and have a fantastic Friday and a lovely weekend!

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Equinix. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

Empowering lives through SPD’s (Society for the Physically Disabled) Employment Support Programme


SPD ESP.JPG

First of all, I would like to say a huge “Thank You” to every one of you who’s responded to my call for action though my personal campaign on for SPD’s (Society for the Physically Disabled) in support for their Employment Support Programme.

This is a cause that is close to heart for me, and I’ve been a long-time supporter and advocate for SPD’s efforts in helping these individuals in their efforts to become gainfully employed.

Apart from the donations and the occasional positions that we’ve engaged SPD for, I’ve always felt that I’ve not done enough and could had done a bit more.

I’m very hearten by the responses that I’ve received from everyone that’s responded to my personal campaign. Apart from the donations that came in which I know SPD will put to good use, there were quite a few discussions with fellow HR practitioners on how they could engage SPD going forward.

We are a few days into the campaign and while it is a simple way to show that we care, I hope that the awareness that we’ve raised would go a long way to creating more employment opportunities for this group of individuals.

I remember my first engagement many years ago with SPD was rather impromptu and out of the blue. We had a short-term temp requirement which I thought would be a good idea to explore something different.

What amazed me was the amount of due diligence that SPD took to ensure that we were ready to hire employees with disabilities.

Although I didn’t manage to hire anyone from that first engagement, however we managed to finally hire someone for a different role sometime later.

What we did was to increase our talent pool with candidates recommended from SPD and like any other candidates, it’s the best person for the job. Thus, it is important that we try to create as level a playing field as possible for all candidates to be assessed for their skills and abilities.

Once again, I would like to call to action everyone to continue to work towards a more inclusive workplace. If you are in HR, have a look and see if there are roles that you can identify as a starting point to engage. If you are a hiring manager, have a chat with your HR or recruiter and let them know that you would want to explore the possibility of engaging this talented pool of individuals.

I know that there are organisations such as SPD across the different countries. I’m sure there are already some support and infrastructure out there. Let’s start today and make a real difference.

Find out more about SPD’s Employment Support Programme (Click Here)

Do check out my campaign “Empowering lives through SPD’s Employment Support Programme” (Click Here)

Would also love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we can do more and raise the awareness for this cause! Feel free to drop me a message or drop off your comments below!

Thank you and have a fantastic weekend!

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

Employees’ emotional and mental wellness – just as important


I came across an article on ChannelNewsAsia today on an incident that happened last November.

My condolences go out to the family. While I don’t know the deceased or her family, but it saddens me to hear such news. Other than echoing the State Coroner, Mr. Marvin Bay’s comment on more support for working mums, I don’t intend to discuss the details of the story or repeat any part of it on this article, you can read the article if you wish to find out more.

Quoting the article on Mr. Bay’s comment on more support for working mums, “It would be ideal for the workplace to acknowledge the needs of working mothers with new babies, and take steps to ameliorate the additional stress imposed on them by providing better work-life balance, flexible working conditions and affordable, quality childcare”, I cannot agree more and emphasis enough the importance and value of that support can bring to working mothers.

Being in HR for most of my career, I had the opportunity to work with employees at different stages in their life journey. While everyone has their own story and stresses that they have to deal with not just from work but also in their personal life, we cannot overlook the impact in which this accumulation of stress has on that individual. It’s not just the mothers that bear this impact alone. We are also seeing the daddies getting more involved and dealing with the pressures of work and family.

I’m sure we all know the challenges in having to balance the demands and deadlines in work with the commitments at home, one can argue that as a professional, you should leave not bring your troubles from home to your workplace. Someone told me many years ago that her manager made that comment to her when she was going through an emotional patch and wasn’t looking all that bright eye bushy tail at work.

While we don’t have the full context to that incident, I would say that it was rather insensitive to had done that. Should this staff be at her breaking point, that comment would had a very drastic effect.

What is HR’s role in this? What is the manager’s role in this? As we see a blurring of line between work and family, it becomes increasingly hard to judge and manage.

Personally, I draw the line at not getting involved in what happened at home. However, I make sure that I’m sensitive to the employee’s state of mind and emotions, provide the support or allowance for him or her to manage work and time.  That means not to micromanage the process, but set expectations for the outcomes, and manage that delivery.

In most organizations, there are “employee assistant program” with a hotline number to an independent agency providing that service. In the course of my career, I’ve recommended the use of such service to employees as a part of increasing awareness that such support is available.

Personally, I was a recipient of such recommendation from a senior HR leader that I can utilize the service if I’m needed some one to talk to. That was back in 2015 when I happened to be in Bangkok during the Erawan Shrine bombing, and I’ve narrowly missed it due to a change in schedule. I found myself having to deal with the emotional shock and also manage the fears back home during the incident. All was well in that incident for me.

There is no magic formula or silver bullet to eradicating work stress. Flexible work arrangements, childcare support, and other benefits does go a long way to helping improving situation for your employees and their families. However, at the heart of it all, the people administrating this is most critical. You can have the best benefits program and policies in the world, but with the most insensitive people administrating them, employees will still not feel at ease using them.

As a strong advocate for work life integration, a lot of people I spoke to share with me that it is not that they don’t have such policies and benefits, it is that they felt like they’ve been scrutinized every time they utilize them.

On the contrary, you can have the most basic benefits programs and policy, but with the right HR, Managers, and Leaders. People who are sensitive to employees’ wellbeing and in turn creates that culture of trust and support, you could still create an organization with a world class culture and environment.

As a call to action, I would like to urge everyone to start listening to the people around you at work. Create an environment of acceptance and support. You don’t have to wait for HR to build that program. You are a leader in your own right, whether if you manage a team or not, nothing is stopping you from reaching out and making your colleagues’ life at work a better one.

If you are a people manager or a HR practitioner, manage your employees from the heart. They will see the difference.

Happy Wednesday and I’m going to enjoy the rest of my day off now. 🙂

Cheers

Eric Wong

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

“Buy-Make-Sell” in Talent Management


For those who’s had this discussion on talent management would know that I’ve been using the “Buy-Make-Sell” model to describe what a Talent Management framework would look like.

I first came across this model in a manufacturing company where the operations manager was trying to describe the plant’s manufacturing process from the procurement of raw materials, the manufacturing of the goods and the selling of the finished product. That was when I fell in love with the model. It was simple and easy to follow.

During one of my early stint as a HR business partner, I started exploring the then-trend of “skills inventory” and deriving employees’ individual training needs based on their role and function.

It wasn’t much of an issue back in those days as average tenure was much longer than today’s. This also means to employees stayed longer in roles and take longer to move up. The other observation I had was that development plans were often in-function as compared to being crossed-function.

Today, there is a lot more employee mobility and there is a bigger emphasis on cross functional skill sets.

That created a rather complex problem. First, there is a shorter runway for employees to be developed in role (before they look for the next move), and secondly, the cross functional skill sets are often picked up by trial and error as compared to an intentional developmental plan.

As I took a step back to look at this talent issue on hand, I realized that it’s not a training or retention issue. Some of the earlier interventions which I felt was a quick fix was to slap on a training bond or retention to lock the employees in so that the company can justify the returns on investment.

However, that doesn’t address the root cause of the issue, and employees are staying because they had to, not because they want to.

What went wrong? So, I started tracing the issues and thought about what I would do to mitigate the issues in the simplest manner.

All my answers eventually pointed to “career succession”.   Do note that this is very different from “leadership succession”.

For the full talent management cycle to be complete, employees need to be able to visualize and plan their career where they can map what the next role(s) would look like, understand what are the gaps in getting there. This can be employee driven, manager driven or even company driven. Ideally, employees should be self-motivated to want to plan their career, and not wanting to move up or move to a new role is perfectly fine. Company could provide the framework and support. Managers to facilitate the process.

Let’s look at how it all comes together graphically.

By adopting the simple Buy-Make-Sell model, we look can look at talent management in the following three stages:

  • Acquisition
  • Development
  • Career Succession

Roles are being filled either with external or internal hires. This is quite straight forward. There is seldom a 100% fit in role, and one would expect candidates brought into a new role would require a certain degree of training and orientation to get to their full potential.

That brings us into the development stage. There’s two parts to that. Development within the role and development for the new role. As the employee plans his/ her career within the organization, a development plan is put in place to look at skill sets that this employee would need to acquire.

As we move into career succession, the employee moves into a new role already acquiring some of the necessary skills in his/ her development prior to the move. The employee thus moves back to stage 1, where he/ she is brought into the new role through the acquisition process.

I do need to state that this is a simplistic way of looking at talent management. There is a lot more complexity with how the entire career plan for the employee would come together, right down to looking at compensation outside of range for cross-functional moves etc.

Although the model also caters to majority of the employees, it doesn’t really cover the high potential and a lot more thoughts would need to go into adapting this for management trainee program.

I hope this is useful for those who are new to talent management, and would also love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Talent management is something that I feel passionate about. It is also constantly evolving and there is so much more for me to learn.

Happy Thursday and have a wonderful week ahead!

Eric Wong

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is APAC Head of Talent Acquisition Leader at Fitbit. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

良禽择木而栖


这么多年来,身为名招聘人员,我应该也对不少的候选人说了这番话!这话看是简单,可包含了很深的意义。

良禽择木而栖,贤臣择主而事。自古到今,怀才者都愿找到位明主,优秀的人才也同时在不断的寻找和选择能发挥自己才华的好单位和善用自己的好领导。

今天在交谈中,我和一位同事聊到怎么去留住人才。这问题太常听到了!在当今的商业环境里,人才的流动比以前多。科技的发展也带动了信息的流量。招聘的方式也从出不穷。身为领导的您,要留住员工的心也太不容易了!

候选人在考虑工作的时候通常都会考虑以下的几点:

  1. 企业文化,领导,同事
  2. 金钱与福利
  3. 发展空间
  4. 公司名声

这就是公司对候选人的价值。

打个比方,如果一家公司的名声不太好,企业文化,领导也一般,可能这公司就要砸钱请人,拉长补短。

现在,我们用同样的几点来看看自己的员工。如果其中的一点有变化,那应该拉那个“长”来补那个“短”呢?

很多时候,在某种情况下,重组也好,领导换班也好,都会改变公司对员工的价值和吸引力。如果我们都把注意力都放在公司对外的形象,而忽略了自己员工的话,这后果就不堪设想了。

员工的流失就很难保持在最佳水平了!

所以,良禽择木而栖,这“木”的定义很广, 也不限于以上提到的那几点而已。谢谢。

我很少用中文来写博客。希望能够借着写博客的兴趣来加强我对中文语言的掌握。如果写的不好,请多多原谅,多多指教。谢谢!

*博客表达的意见完全是我自己的,不表示我的雇主的意见。

作者:

黄国晏 (Eric Wong) 蜚比 (Fitbit), 亚太区人才招聘总监。请在 LinkedinTwitter@ErickyWong上联系他。