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People Challenges Can Sink Startups - Robert Siegel, XSeed Capital & Stanford GSB

Companies of all sizes (i.e., large, small, startup) talk a lot about the need to build a strong company culture. However, it seems that few companies actually proactively design and foster a company culture that is aligned with their strategy and objectives. As we provide CFO services to a variety of CEOs, we often are asked to help analyze and develop strategies to improve HR-related processes that can significantly affect a company’s performance.

This recent article and video by the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) summarizes a talk by Robert Siegel of XSeed Capital on his views of the key factors in building a successful company culture.

Here are some key excerpts:

“The single largest issue that causes the most emotional heartache in a startup is people challenges. Every organization has them…. If you put best HR practices into place in the earliest days and are doing the right things right, you’ll have fewer and fewer issues and blowups.”

“If you think of HR as the notion of the chief people officer, in many respects it’s probably the most important function in a company.”

“If you ask your teammates what are the things they would like to see changed and improved, that’s where you can find out what you need to do.”

The best company culture is not one “where everybody gets a hug, but where you can give feedback to each other on what’s working and what’s not working.”

“Especially here in Silicon Valley, where it’s axiomatic that people are your most important resource, employers must ask themselves certain questions: Are you giving your employees the tools to be effective in their jobs? Are you providing them with tools to grow their careers? Are you enabling opportunities for them to accomplish all the things they want to do?”

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