Long answer – A Director of People is probably the most important job in the company.
Who we hire and how we encourage and mentor and develop and support our employees has more impact than pretty much everything else put together. A Director of People is giving this the attention and expertise it needs. With the right person, this job pays back a gigantic multiple.
First off comes who we hire. It’s a piece of cake to say we only hire A+ people. Figuring out if an applicant is an A+, that’s difficult. Really, really difficult. We’ve blown it more often than I would like. The cost of learning that someone is the wrong person is horrible. There’s extra time others have to put in, lost opportunities, starting over to fill the position again, etc. These are gigantic costs, especially for a small company.
Second comes doing our best for all our employees. Improving the work environment, providing effective useful training, making sure people are paid well. Every day the primary assets of this company walk out the door and go home.
Anything we can do to help people do better is also gigantic. It’s better job satisfaction as people accomplish more and more, doing it better and better. And that leads to the company delivering brilliant products & service.
Third is being our Minister of Culture. We have a very strong productive culture. We need to keep and improve this. Constantly. If we ignore it, then it will slowly dissipate and we’re left wondering where all the magic went. And as we continue to grow, it will take sustained purposeful effort to insure that we retain our culture.
There’s more, lots more. But the above three items are the keys to the kingdom. Getting that right is fundamentally critical to successfully continuing to grow. And that can’t be done as an add-on to someone else’s job. It requires a full-time person who has that as their entire focus.
So the question is not why are we getting a Director of People so soon. It’s why did we wait so long?
Author: David Thielen
Dave, Windward's founder and CEO, is passionate about building superb software teams from scratch and dramatically improving the productivity of existing software teams. He's really proud that he once created a game so compelling (Enemy Nations) that a now-professional World of Warcraft player lost his job for playing it incessantly on company time. You can read more from Dave on his personal blog, and at Huffington Post.
Other posts by David Thielen