HR · Small business

What are the best tools for managing people in a growing startup?

Deborah Chang

August 22nd, 2013

In my observation, when most startups begin, they are a group of two or three people working together in the room. There's little need to put in systems and processes in place to clearly communicate the business's mission and vision, to onboard new team members, to ensure clear communication, and to keep people accountable to outcomes.

However, as startups grow, they go through growing pains when all of a sudden, founders find that they've hired someone who's a poor fit, or that they don't have good systems for onboarding or firing, or that there are not clearly defined roles and responsibilities. 

My question, then, is what are the essential/best tools for managing people in a growing startup? Some off the top of my head are:
- Clear mission and vision
- Clear values, norms, and working agreements
- Robust hiring process that includes work samples and trial periods
- Clear roles and responsibilities
- Clear project management procedures
- Robust onboarding process
- Regular check-ins

What else?

And, what are good resources that you've found to answer a question like this? 

Daniel Lo

August 23rd, 2013


Matthew Moore Product / Engineering Co-Founder

August 22nd, 2013

Objective-Key Results (OKRs) / Management by Objective is my tool of choice!

Nick Bideshi Executive VP at Industrial Quality Management

August 22nd, 2013

From experience we have seen that by managing expectations from the very start it makes the other things fall in line.  Managing people, projects, and work can be seen by some as variations of micro management. 

As a start up having nimble systems is what gives you the advantage over possibly larger companies.  Too much procedure can slow you down; this is not to say that there should be no procedure.  Some is clearly needed.

Mark Piekny Engineer, Consultant & Entrepreneur

August 25th, 2013

I've used some of these tools for culture building in the past and have found them to be helpful.


August 22nd, 2013

I have built a few teams and spent a crap load of time on mission and values. Hiring processes and all that stuff and it didn't translate to a team that was more than a sum of its parts.

Then I read this book :

Completely changed how I look at building a team.

Daylin Mantyka Corporate Marketing & Operations @ ZENMED | Freelance Writer

August 22nd, 2013

I have yet to use this software, but am in current conversation to potentially join the team:

Currently, they are targeting teams that are larger than your early-stage startup, and seek to help companies between 10-15 employees. 

Chandan Miskin Experienced CRM/Cloud/Strategy/Sales Professional

May 2nd, 2015

Technically, you are actually mixing up a lot of things from areas such as HR and Proj Mgmt... but tools like mindjet, taskray or even zoho (Crm & proj mgmt) are good enough to manage small teams. Zoho is especially good if you are using contractors on hourly billing for task assignment and recording time

Justin AP CEO at EcoCosm, Inc.

May 3rd, 2015

Two tools we use are:
Zenefits for HR.  We purchased competitively priced health insurance for our team through them.  In return we have free access to their online HR platform that includes hiring/terminating modules, link to payroll, flexible spending accounts, PTO tracking, contractor management, and much more.

The Entrepreneurial Operating System outlined in Gino Wickman's book Traction.  It's a straight forward process to define and communicate vision to your team and assess whether you have the right people in your organization sitting in the right seats.  The dashboard of key business metrics is also a good tool check in on business performance and ensure everyone is hitting their targets. 

Victor Savkov Sr.Software Developer at Kinaxis

May 4th, 2015

What else?
Nothing of the mentioned above.

And, what are good resources that you've found to answer a question like this?
1. Works of W. Edwards Deming;
2. Works of Don Reinertsen, his video "Decentralizing Control" is a good place to start - leaders of The US Marine Corps spend 2/3 of their time with subordinates, 1/3 - with superiors.