Independence Day: It's Britta
Happy Independence Month. Here’s what independence means to It’s Britta….
Understanding founders (better)
After 20 years of working for/with founders, I thought I understood them pretty well. Now I realize that’s like thinking you know what it’s like to parent because you’ve babysat your nephew.
This year I’ve experienced my own case of “Founder’s Syndrome.” Yep...all of the symptoms. The extreme highs and lows. The non-stop elevator pitch. The 24/7 work week. The never ending flow of ideas with zero bandwidth to act on them.
I can’t quantify how this has made me better at my job, but I do know it makes me more empathetic to founders. I always say ‘I’m here for the employees, and Founders are employees too.’ Now that I’m one too, I mean it even more.
Calling it like it is
If you know me, this one might surprise you. I’m not exactly one to hold back. But the reality is that being independent does give me a more objective point of view on a company, its leaders, its practices, and how it’s perceived. And as a third party, I have no issue being completely candid and frank about what I see. My only goal is to help and make it better for ALL.
I’m not saying that being in-house means you can’t be truthful or aren’t fighting to be heard--I’m just saying I’ve now experienced that there’s power in honesty and clarity coming from the outside.
Feeling great about who I work for
The thing about being an HR executive is you get access to a lot of information immediately. Sensitive info that most people (other than the CEO and CFO) don’t know: salaries, salary history, bonuses, personnel files, offer letters, legal history, and know what leadership really thinks (positive and negative) about specific employees. That means within 48 hours of starting your HR leadership role, you know exactly what kind of company you’re working for--and whether or not it’s the company you were “sold on” and thought you were joining.
I have a strong personal and professional moral compass (I’m not ‘PC’ HR, I’m ‘human’ HR). But like any HR executive, I’ve observed (and temporarily endured) practices that didn’t sit well with me. When I went independent, I promised myself I would only work with companies who wanted to be better. Because if you don’t want to be better, it won’t take me long to figure that out. And if you don’t want to be better, I don’t want to work with you.
Helping more people, in less time
Whether it’s mentoring, advocating, advising, cheerleading, what I love about working for smaller companies is being able to advocate for each and every employee. That becomes an impossibility once a company exceeds a certain size. That’s why I love the 2- 100 person company.
If you look at my resume, you’ll see two extremes--I worked at 2 companies for a relatively long time (10 and 5 years) and 3 companies for a relatively short time (under a year). Both taught me so much, but the latter more than I could imagine. It was like an MBA program with a semester at each company. I realized something invaluable. I can make a positive impact, quickly. It comes from experience, empathy, listening, remembering, hustling, and change management techniques.
By going independent, and working with several boutique companies at one time, I still get to enjoy the personal connections, while working with multiple founders, and knowing I can make a positive shift in a short amount of time. It’s just good math.
A regular paycheck and reasonable hours are not to be knocked (I’m hoping for both through It’s Britta...eventually). But I also know I thrive in challenging and new situations. That’s pretty much a guarantee when it comes to being an entrepreneur.
I’m confident this next year of It’s Britta HR will hold its own discoveries, insights, and lessons. I look forward to sharing those with you as well.