Tweak Your Biz » Management » Achieve Startup Synergy Through Better Human Capital Management

Achieve Startup Synergy Through Better Human Capital Management

All newly developed startup teams will go through some turbulence. Many of these individuals have never worked with each other professionally and often have very little business experience if they are college students. In the age of Facebook, Kickstarter and Groupon, startup teams are getting younger, more ambitious and diverse, but the synergy amongst team members is not always there. This is why even the most innovative and creative startups can learn from established companies about effective human capital management (HCM) and team development.

Human capital remains a pillar of all business and industry, and organizations that are adept at managing their staff talent are more likely to achieve operational synergy and boost revenue.

Achieve Startup Synergy Through Better Human Capital Management

Here are five examples of how startups can create synergy through human capital management based on organizational development best practices:

#1. Set adequate HR policies

Effective human capital management starts with the tone at the top, the way senior management sets the right vision that ultimately trickles down through the rank and file.

HR policies play a unifying role in today’s enterprise, and they help personnel focus on core operational values like productivity, competitiveness, performance and employee cohesion, says Professor Timothy Butler, Senior Fellow and Director of Career Development Programs at Harvard Business School.

To set the proper HR policies:

  • Include high-level HR personnel when formulating the procedures
  • Ensure the procedures mesh perfectly with the organization’s mission, vision and values
  • Promote the corporate culture through HR
  • Be aware of cultural subtleties
  • Seek, receive and incorporate junior HR management’s feedback into the final blueprint

#2. Embed the corporate HR vision in the value chain

Your company’s value chain encompasses all internal and external processes that, collectively or individually, create operational or financial benefits to the business. Simply put, it’s everything that adds value to a final product or service.

Your typical value chain includes such activities as production, marketing, delivery and customer service.  And these are the areas you want to focus on.

After setting adequate HR policies, apply them – and adapt them, if needed – to your value chain, showing personnel how the policies are good for business, for their own performance and for the company’s overall reputation.

To do this effectively, assemble of strong bench of top managers in each department along the value chain, and make each one accountable for a specific deliverable—such as performance, productivity, cultural diversity and employee empowerment, to name a few.

#3. Seek 360-degree feedback throughout the organization

According to Edward Lazear, professor of Human Resources Management at Stanford University, creating an effective feedback loop can help jumpstart human capital management in your company.

The goal here is not to ask employees the same old “What can we improve?” or “How can you do your job better?” questions. Rather, ask different versions of the same question, focusing on how the HR policies affect their specific functions, and how these functions fall into the overall operational process of the company.

Here’s an example: Say one of your key HR policies emphasizes a return on investment of 10% on each employee in the sales department. In other words, you want each salesperson to generate 110% of his or her salary in annual revenue quota. To achieve this objective:

  • Set the right, competitive salary for each staff member
  • Seek the sales team’s feedback before finalizing the HR policy
  • Adapt the corporate policy to internal procedures within the Sales and Marketing department
  • Define and agree on performance criteria and key success factors (KSF)
  • Track the KSF and, if needed, modify and realign them with industry trends and the company’s internal benchmarks

#4. Integrate technology in human capital management

Technology is here to say—you know that already. But what’s important to emphasize is that tech trends can effectively help improve your human capital management and propel your organization’s operations.

If your business hasn’t yet adapted to key fads in the technological sector, now is the time to make the switch and to reflect the change in priorities that consumers and your customers have already made.

According to Vala Afshar, CMO and Chief Customer Officer at Enterasys Network, technology can be a potent tool in human resource management, especially for a company that runs global operations in far-flung locales.

You can use technology in the way you:

  • Source and hire human talent
  • Set performance criteria and other productivity benchmarks
  • Evaluate staff performance periodically
  • Research productivity metrics and produce educational material adapted to personnel’s needs
  • Foster staff cohesion and camaraderie
  • Set the proper tone, both in terms of corporate culture and values

#5. Benchmark industry best practices

When it comes to human resources management, benchmarking remains an essential component you can rely on to evaluate your own procedures, identify what’s working, figure out what’s not, and determine why it’s not.

Benchmarking essentially means you emulate industry best practices. You can do so by seeking competitive intelligence through industry research, consultants, your own research department or academic literature.

The idea here is not to spy on your rivals and emulate what they’re doing gung-ho, but to thoroughly find the perfect medium between your corporate values and the type of human capital management procedures you need to make your company operationally effective and efficient.


When well-thought-out and effectively implemented, your human capital management strategy can help your startup or established company achieve operational symbiosis. You don’t need to reinvent the operational wheel or turn to an orthodoxy-breaking exercise to stir up your HR policies.

Just stick to the basic, good-old process of defining the problem, seeking alternatives, evaluating them, making a decision and doing a post-mortem review to see what worked and what didn’t.

Throughout the process, don’t forget to leverage technology extensively and make it a key analytical element, especially when reviewing human capital management across your value chain.

Images: ”Human capital concept in tag cloud on white background /


Connect with Tweak Your Biz:


Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz?

Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information

An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.

Want to get your business featured on Tweak Your Biz? Check out #TYBspotlight.

The Author:

Dr. Emad Rahim is an award-winning entrepreneur, educator, author and community leader. He has been invited to be a TEDx Speaker and keynoted at several different university events. He was recognized by the United Nations Foundation as a 2013 Empact100 Honoree for his social entrepreneurship work, received a Congressional Award for his community service and was the recipient of the Forty Under 40 Business Leadership Award sponsored by Syracuse University. His personal story was turned into a short documentary, ‘AGAINST THE ODDS,’ and featured in the Huffington Post and Forbes. He co-authored ‘RESILIENCE: FROM THE KILLING FIELDS TO THE BOARDROOM’ and ‘LEADING THROUGH DIVERSITY: TRANSFORMING MANAGERS INTO EFFECTIVE LEADERS’ and ‘THE 4-TIONS: YOUR GUIDE TO DEVELOPING SUCCESSFUL JOB SEARCH STRATEGIES,’ and is a frequent contributor to Forbes, CEO Magazine, TweakYourBiz and YFS Entrepreneurship Magazine. He currently serves as the Endowed Chair of the Project Management Center of Excellence and Associate Professor in the College of Science and Technology at Bellevue University. He is also a JWMI Fellow at the Jack Welch Management Institute in the Executive MBA program and Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University.

Add Your Comment

  • Happy New Year Emad and with another great post for us. I don’t know very much about start-up teams but your post is very interesting and makes a lot of sense – even to someone who isn’t involved in that type of thing. As always I look forward to your next post

  • Emad Rahim

    Thank you for your comment and kind words. I love the topic
    of startup and entrepreneurship. Educating people on these two topics is a job
    that I am passionate in.

  • Some very interesting points. Having worked with start-ups I think they have little regard for HR policies. I guess at the beginning you can get away with it because the teams are very small and HR policies are not that important.

  • Emad Rahim

    Hello Nishadha – Thank you for your comments. You are correct. HR is often overlooked during the startup phase and only implemented when there is an issue with team members and other stakeholders. It is in venture growth and an HR department is often established.