Episode 55: HR for High-Growth Companies

HR leaders have a pivotal role to play in helping their organizations meet their people needs while scaling their business. Andrew Bartlow, Founder of Series B Consulting and co-author of Scaling for Success: People Priorities for High Growth Organizations, offers a wide range of practical advice on how to run a strategic HR function successfully. In this conversation, we talk about HR planning in an ever-changing work environment, managing and balancing stakeholder needs, the risks of copying celebrated HR best practices, how to avoid wasting time and energy on HR initiatives that add little value and navigating culture change at high-growth companies.

Andrew is a former HR executive who founded the People Leader Accelerator, a development program for startup HR leaders. And he’s worked with clients like Masterclass and many others to help them overcome obstacles in a hyper-growth phase.

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Episode Highlights


The risks of implement best practices from leading companies.


Pushing back on a CEO who wants to implement “the next new thing.”


Common distractions for HR leaders in high-growth companies


Characteristics of an HR plan that is complete yet light and flexible


The process of creating an HR plan for a high-growth company


How much goal alignment HR really needs with internal stakeholders


Managing culture change with founders and senior executives


Unmet wellbeing needs at high growth companies today

Andrew's view on the greatest unmet wellbeing need at high-growth companies

I think what workers need in terms of well being is flexibility. Full stop.

I think the pandemic has proven that a lot of work can be done remotely. I think we've seen more kids bounce around in the back of a zoom background than we ever anticipated and and you know people are getting their miles in on their Peloton bikes and they're doing what they need to do. They're taking their COVID tests and leaving leaving the house to do what they need to do. And that's, that's shown that the intense work culture that has absorbed many of us for the past X number of years, doesn't have to operate the same way that it always has.

It's a topic I've spent a lot of time thinking about. Adobe has a great at the Adobe Acrobat, PDF reader, Adobe, has a great process that I read about the other day, where they gave every one of their people managers, a field guide, talking points, instructions, suggestions around flexibility. And they said go out, speak with every one of your direct reports. Ask them what flexibility needs they have. And if it is at all possible, the answer is "yes," we give you instruction to offer maximum flexibility possible that that you can possibly provide. But it's up to you as the manager to make those decisions. And here are some tools to help you have those conversations. Wow, I thought that was incredible.

And I'm just spreading the word about that practice everywhere I can.

What “working with humans” means to Andrew

“I tend to think about things in the employment context. Working at a job with people and as humans. We are complex, and sometimes difficult humans. And understanding the richness of that and some of the paradoxes and conflicts…So, working with humans means working with a varied and a rich and complex group of stakeholders.”Check Out Ot

Michael Glazer is the creator and host of Humans At Work. His purpose in life is to make well-being at work a globally-accepted, basic human right. Learn more about Michael here.