Why HR: When do I need a people manager?

People role: If not now, when?

There's always a bit of chaos in the beginning of something big. After all, founders are working on many construction sites at the same time: Funding must be secured, product development must progress, customers must be acquired, the market must be kept in sight and investments must be sought. Oh, and there was one more thing: A well-coordinated team is urgently needed! This construction site also requires instinct. In this article, you'll find out how you can tell when it's time to make your first hire in the people area - and how you can recognize the person who is be the best person for the job.

People role: If not now, when?

There are a few very unmistakable signs that you should be filling a People role. Some of them are: 

Applications are getting left behind. 
Or possibly already piling up in your email inbox. You might think to yourself, "Well, new applications keep coming in, so it's not that urgent." Let me tell you: good candidates never stay on the job market for long. If you're not fast enough, someone else will be for sure. That's why you should respond to applications promptly. And if you don't have the time, hire someone who does. 

Your team is growing fast - and at the same time the mood is sinking. 
The atmosphere turns negative: This is not a point that can be measured exactly, but it can be felt. Most of the time, it's because no one really has employee growth on their radar. A good corporate culture does not simply grow with the company, but needs to be established. Good cooperation rarely happens on its own, but should be guided and lived. A People role can be crucial to enable your employees to get along well, professionally and personally.

Onboardings are always re-scheduled. 
This makes for a very poor employee experience. You know the feeling when everything goes wrong first thing in the morning? You forget your phone, you burn your coffee, or you step on dog poop? "What a bad start to the day!" you think to yourself. Now imagine your new top talent thinking that about their job: "Really bad start to the job!" That, too, is prevented with a People role.

Then there are two more unmistakable signs that you need a people manager: 

  • Payroll is not working - or at least it is bumpy.
  • Founders are so concerned with the HR or people area that they don't make fast enough progress on other important points.

People Manager - better right from the start?

We think: not a bad idea! Filling a position right from the start that includes having the company culture on your radar is a good investment. One that will pay off frequently in the long run. 

If you let someone with experience and expertise guide your company growth directly, you can skip a lot of avoidable mistakes. 

How do I find the right people management person?

Grab a pen and a few sheets of paper, or sit down at your Miroboard, or open an Excel spreadsheet. Either way you can best sort your thoughts. Now answer the following questions:

  • What do you want the new person to be responsible for?

Should a People Manager build up the People Operations area? Or should the main task be taking over and managing recruiting? Is the focus on people development? First, analyze as precisely as possible , which roles the People Person is to fill. 

  • What experience is needed for the People role?

Now that you know exactly what you need the People Management for, look at the skills and experience that should be present. Look closely at what skills can be learned as you work together and don't need to be covered from the start.

  • Which person is the right fit for the founding team?

The person with whom the People division starts shapes the company culture a lot. Therefore, it is good if you add which human qualities are important to you or fit to the founding team to your list. 

Once you have answered these questions, you have your new people role in front of you. Still in bullet points, but hey: You are a huge step closer to a perfect match. 

The next step is: go through your options! 

  1. Fill and train a junior position
    Is there capacity to train someone in the skills you need? The advantage here is that you could focus more on the human values and then promote your "perfect match" in exactly the fields your company needs requires. However, you'll need to budget time and people capacity for this.
  2. Fill a senior position
    Or do you need a person who already has all the items on your list? You could hand over all processes and areas directly to a person experienced in team building. However, these experienced people managers are harder to find
  3. Hire a less experienced person and bring in external experience
    Your third option: You hire a person who is less experienced and get the expertise you need from external sources, such as boutique consultancies like us. Then your new people person will be trained and supported without you having to allocate additional time capacity.

Regardless of whether it's option 1, 2 or 3: Execution is next. And that means: You write a profile, distribute the job advertisement and conduct interviews.

Where to put the job ad?

A job ad on your website is a start. Spreading it across your social media channels certainly is, too. But importantly, you have a specific person in mind, so you should also target them. Here are a few ideas on how you can do that:

  1. Reach out to your network
    You have a business, so by now you have a network. Start here. If there are experienced HR consultants in your network, all the better!
  2. Old but gold: Post job ads on online job boards.
    Some may laugh at them, but a look at the statistics should convince even the most skeptical. 
  3. Check headhunting agencies
    This item should be on your to-do list if you are looking for experienced candidates.
  4. Consider Re- & Upskilling Bootcamps
    Career changers Career changers bring two things with them: Experience in a completely different career field, which is certainly useful, and the courage to try something new. Not bad qualities, are they?
  5. Research training and coaching offers
    In the case of option 3: You hire a not-so-experienced person or a lateral and bring in external expertise.

These are just five options we're throwing out there for you. However, you can, may, and should be creative in your search for talent: Use all the options you can think of - even unconventional ones.

Let's get started

You've got your pen and paper ready, your miro board or Excel spreadsheet open, and you want to get started right away with the analysis for your talent profile? That's a very good decision, because you shouldn't hesitate too long before hiring a People Role. A People Manager can make a big difference to your company's culture and save you a lot of worries. 

Short reality check why we believe you should think about filling a People role sooner rather than later: Today's market isn't easy, and there's nothing to suggest that things are going to ease up anytime soon. In this sense, no company can afford to be poorly positioned in the People area. At least not if it wants to be sustainably successful. 


  • There are unmistakable signs that show you that you need a people manager (e.g. applications are being left behind, onboardings are being re-scheduled, the mood is sinking). You can wait until these show up - or you can start right away with an experienced people talent to help you build a sustainable business.
  • The sharper you make your job profile, the better chance you have of finding exactly the People Person you need. Consider whether you have the capacity to train a person, hire an experienced person, or bring in outside expertise.
  • Use all the options available to you in your talent search and get creative. But never underestimate the influence of the normal job advertisement.



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