The Challenges of Hiring 200 People in A Year

Culturally, we know things are going to change and I keep thinking “OMG will I know everyone’s name by the end of next year?”

Introduce yourself: what do you do, what does your company do?

Hi my name is Merita Ramadani and I am the Head of People at Payhawk. We are an all in one financial software that helps control company spending. We just closed the second biggest Series B in CEE and we are ready for the next stage of our growth! 

What is your hiring plan looking like for 2022? Headcount growth, location, teams?

Just working on this as we speak! It’s great that I get a chance to build this plan with the team while everyone is already winding down for the holidays. It will give us a chance to be ready and hit the ground running in Jan! A part of our OKRs would be that we grow over 200 + in all our current locations - London, Berlin, Barcelona and Sofia. The new locations we are tapping into are France, Netherlands and the US at some point in Q1 and Q2 next year! 

That’s a huge headcount growth, what are some of the main challenges: culturally and operationally?

Yup I know :) it’s such an exciting opportunity and I am super grateful I get to experience this. Culturally, we know things are going to change and I keep thinking “OMG will I know everyone’s name by the end of next year?” My plan is to make sure that I do introduce myself to everyone when they start and we continue to have the teams meet new starters, onboarding buddies from a different location and the random coffee bot. This is the plan for now but with scale we will continue to ask for feedback from the team and if things aren’t working out, we are happy to change and upgrade! 

Operationally, I think OKRs are the best tools to keep us all aligned and reaching our North Star. Our founders are very keen on them and even though we are still iterating and learning best practices I think without them we would be lost!

What are some of the main pieces of advice you’d give to somebody in a similar position to yours?

Don’t be shy to ask for help! Given that this is the first time I will be doing this in my career, I think it is important to be open minded. First, make a plan - I read this amazing quote that is now stuck with me “A goal without a plan is just a wish” by Antoine de Saint Exupery. After the plan, be ready to iterate as many times as needed and don’t be upset if things don’t stick to this plan, it’s completely normal to make changes halfway through but do make sure you put some deadline to work towards. Speak to as many people who have done this before in their career and get the good, the bad and the ugly from their experiences. Your community support is key and the People Community is just incredible - super thankful for it! Put it all down on a G sheet, Gs doc, whatever suits you so you can visualise it better and make sure you add the timelines, budgets in there, it will be helpful for your Finance team to have a better picture and plan as well. And if you are lucky like me to have someone on your team already, then work closely with them to achieve this goal and have as many productive meetings as you can with loads of back and forth until you reach what is best for the company. 

How are you planning to scale your People experience?

I am glad you asked :) Given my previous experience where I helped scale every other team but didn't put myself and my team first is something I will not be compromising this time around as I saw how ugly it can get. The plan is to hire around 5 People in the People team across TA and HC in both London and Sofia that will help with the scale and try to preserve the culture that we have built so far.  

Are there any tools, products or hacks you would recommend to assist with this huge growth?

Yup - I am a huge fan of Greenhouse as an ATS. I know a lot of people don't like it as its not that user friendly and expensive but I think its the Rolls Royce of ATSs out there and it can be integrated with pretty much every tool out there! Next would be to get an HRIS and we have gone with HiBob to make the onboarding of new employees as seamless as possible! Needless to say that onboarding is one of the most important aspects of the hiring process and you can really lose a candidate at this stage (not saying we got it all figured out but we are constantly trying to learn from our current team and trying to improve it) Oh and lets not forget Calendly, your new best friend that makes life easier :) There are many other tools that we use but I think these are essential to begin with. 

In terms of hacks and quick wins, I would suggest building SOPs for your Hiring Managers to outline the way to build JDs, case studies, score cards etc. Like this everyone will have access to it and will be aligned. 

A final thought on all this is that it's all fun and games to hire but the real challenge begins in terms of continuing to value your current team! Super important not to forget this throughout this process and this is going to be the most important thing I will be working on next year!

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