To build a world class venture what do you need? According to many it’s hard work, perseverance, vision, wonderful people, better strategy, undying passion, culture, ingenuity and innovation. Everyone is right! Making a venture successful is a lot of work. To build an amazing venture you need many things, you need to intersect and put things together from apparently unrelated and disconnected fields.
However, ‘people’ is one of the most critical ingredients what make success elusive or real in an organization, especially startups. To many experts and entrepreneurs finding a great co-founder who resembles your values and complements your skills is critical and to many, managing people and ensuring right amount of talent inflow to the company is what makes success possible. But there is no doubt that human resource is the ingredient that makes real difference between companies in this age of hyper competition.
As a startup entrepreneur you need to manage and motivate people inside your company let alone ensuring a consistent flow of talent who will come in and will serve your company for a long time. But is the human resource strategy of a company is as simple as this? The answer is a clear no! Managing people is a messy thing, complicated task to do but you have to do it; but how?
Here is the answer from Richard Branson. Richard Branson is not an average entrepreneur. He dropped out of school at 15 and, despite suffering from dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, went on to found Virgin Group, a business empire that includes more than 370 different companies. In an exclusive interview with HR Magazine published on July 12, 2010 Branson shared his ideas, and philosophy on creating a people oriented culture and managing people in Virgin. Branson declares;
I’m happy to say I’ve never read a book on HR theory or people management. Our guiding principle is this: give individuals the tools they need, outline some parameters to work within, and then just let them get on and do their stuff.
Branson goes on saying that managing people is a one man, HR Manager, responsibility; its everyone’s job.
The key to effective people management is ensuring everyone has a little of people management in them. It isn’t solely Angela’s [Virgin’s head of group people management] job to make our people’s policies work at Virgin. It’s everyone’s responsibility. We have a group people team, who are in essence the custodians of the Virgin people brand, ensuring there is consistency throughout the group in key values, behaviors and policies. But each business has its own shareholders and management – this way we concentrate on the job at hand rather than be part of some enormous, faceless conglomerate. The process and approach systems come from the people management principles, but the brands have a certain amount of freedom to do what they want to do.
To make a culture work in an organization it’s mandatory to enable collective engagement, exchange and interaction among people working. People within the organization must feel that they own the organization. This very philosophy of people management reflects in Branson’s conversation;
Our view at Virgin is that collective responsibility bonds teams, and having pride in your work is a far better driver than a hierarchical culture where the boss calls the shots.
Branson continues telling on culture, role of HR, employees as stakeholders and what its like working at Virgin:
The Virgin culture:
I started Virgin with a philosophy that if staffs are happy, customers will follow. It can’t just be me that sets the culture when we recruit people. I have a really great set of CEOs across our businesses who live and breathe the Virgin brand and who are entrepreneurs themselves.”
The role of HR:
From humble beginnings HR was really a one-man band dealing with compliance and procedural aspects. We now have more than 400 people specialists who are responsible for delivering best practice advice to the rest of the group.
Employees as stakeholder:
If people are properly and regularly recognized for their initiative, then the business has to flourish. Why? Because it’s their business, an extension of their personality. Everyone feels Virgin is theirs to keep and look after. And it runs deeper. I am a firm believer in listening to your staff at all times. The moment you stop doing this, you are in danger of losing your best people.
Working at Virgin:
I really believe people should not be pigeon-holed. Many people say to me they have their day jobs – usually the one on their cards or contracts – but people also have night and weekend jobs.
Via HR Magazine