Thursday, April 10, 2008

Boil Those Start-up Grunts

Reading, I found a discussion thread, which began with this quote from Michael Arrington, the Editor of TechCrunch: “Startups should hire people who work 24 hours a day because there is nothing else they’d rather do. ”

Silly rabbit, that Michael Arrington! The notion that start-up grunts will work for slave hours AND slave wages indefinitely is, um, (choosing words carefully) dunderheaded.

Start-ups should hire people who will be with them--not only in those first heady days--but will stay for the long haul. The corporate memory that's lost when good people leave (especially those who were there in the greenfield days) is tremendous and irreplaceable. We don't even have a good calculator for Loss of Talent-Intelligence, but we do have a calculation for cost of turnover. Trust me: it's high and only those start-up managers who are tone-deaf to their HR gurus (or, not wanting to be bothered by those pesky strategic staffing types, just blew off having someone in that role in the first place) will ignore the impact of their expectations of staff both during and after start-up.

Besides, those who thrive on the crisis-driven thrash and crash cycle of your start-up won't be there long...and if they are, they won't be worth a steaming puddle of spit (a technical term from us HR and leadership development types). I don't know a lot of people from back in my college days who produced excellent results from cramming (and if they pulled it out, they were useless in short order).

Think it through, plan it well, treat your people like gods and rock on! If you can't do that, turn your business plan over to people much smarter than you and get out of the way.