Ann Marie Puig


Ann Marie Puig discusses how to address talent challenges for startups

For the success of any startup, it is critical to establish a human resources (HR) strategy that is aligned with your business strategy. Although it seems obvious, there are many occasions in which talent management takes a back seat to the great business challenges that arise. Ann Marie Puig, a global business consultant from Costa Rica, provides insight into how startups can address and overcome human talent challenges.

Two major challenges a company must face in the beginning stages of a new business are developing its product/service and finding its first customers. These two issues can cause problems in the development of a team. People’s skills are often neglected and put on the back burner.

Entrepreneurs and founders are often distracted by the urgency of a startup and fail to consider the long-term growth of their staff and team. The skills required to run a business grow as the company grows. This is evident whether there are 5 people or 25 or 250.

It is essential to have a HR strategy established in an organization if the founder truly believes that people and the team are the greatest assets of the company. Puig asserts, “You must think about how to give feedback and plan for growth. You also need to consider how to help people to think about their career options. It is easier to start a business in its early stages than to deal with the challenges that come along with growing companies.”

Most start-ups do not have an HR person on the first day. The person responsible for managing human resources is the CEO, vice president of marketing, or engineer. He has many other responsibilities, and doesn’t have the time or energy to focus on the development and skills of employees. Even though we have natural instincts for HR, many leaders don’t have the training or experience necessary to do so.

People in every organization must be continually trained and improved. As the business evolves, they must be able learn new skills. You must ensure that your talent is trained in the latest technology. This is crucial.

We need to look at existing talent and develop it if we want an organization that learns. It is much more costly to replace someone than it is to develop the talent that we already have.

Companies must consider the long-term growth potential of their employees in order to ensure the survival of their organization. This is especially important considering the pace at which these issues are being dealt with. The executive must ask themselves whether employees are able to do their current jobs and if they have the ability to take on the next two roles as the company grows.

Until you have a human resources person, the CEO must take care of these issues. You need to instill how to give feedback and grow people. In the early days of a startup, hiring a resource consultant can help. The most important thing is that this culture of orientation to people is present from day one.

Employers need to ask themselves certain questions: Are they giving their employees the tools to be effective in their jobs? Are they providing them with tools to develop their careers? Are they providing opportunities for them to accomplish all the things they want to do?

“In both startups and large companies,” adds Puig, “if you are the manager of an organization, understanding the hopes and goals and career aspirations of your team will allow you to place your team in roles and positions where they will be highly motivated to work hard. If people believe you’re taking care of them, it’s amazing what they can achieve.

Therefore, the question a leader should ask themselves is whether they really know the team’s goals and how they can help them achieve them. It is a mindset with a medium-term vision rather than a transactional vision of people’s development.

A good leader can constantly push to expand the comfort zone. When things are going well, they can raise the bar. Leaders can give people specific tools, such as workshops to develop skills, but they must also push and challenge people. Above all, never forget that especially a startup, it must promote communication, links between colleagues, motivation and talent of the team.