Hypergrowth has a reputation for being complicated, and few executives can say they’ve survived the ride through multiple funding stages during global expansion.
In the latest episode of High Growth Matters, we spoke with Krystal Shields, who survived raising multiple rounds in global hypergrowth — not once, but twice. She began her career in finance at Common Sense Media and Credit.com before transitioning into people operations and talent management at companies like LendUp, D2iQ and Harness, where she’s currently the Global Senior Director of People Operations and Talent Management.
This blog is adapted from that conversation and covers:
- How to ask for help when expanding outside of your home country
- Global variance in pay transparency
- Guiding principles for HR leaders experiencing hypergrowth
To hear the full episode, visit this page, or subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player, such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Don’t miss the full episode: HR Survival Tips for Going Global While Raising Multiple Rounds
Asking questions and avoiding assumptions
Hypergrowth is difficult to manage from any position within an organization. However, HR leaders are tasked with unique challenges in that they must navigate various global policies, cultures, and expectations and help ensure that recruitment and retention are focused on people who fit within the current state of the company.
According to Krystal, one of the biggest mistakes that HR professionals make during hypergrowth is failing to reach out for help.
“As your company is expanding globally, it’s really important not to make too many assumptions,” she says. “It’s important to have a certain amount of humility and respect for the ways that different countries operate.”
Different countries have varying business operations laws, each functioning within its own set of cultural expectations.
It’s okay not to have all the answers right away, Krystal says. “Ask questions, do your research and tap into experts when you can.”
With over 800 employees across 20 countries, Krystal has found it is best to speak directly to employees, combine employee input with that of her road-tested peers, then utilize feedback as a starting point for research and development.
“Outside of the U.S., employees are well informed of their rights. We ask them what they’re looking for and expecting, then research it,” Krystal says. “Gather as much information as possible, make sure employees are being taken care of, and you’ll also protect your business.”
How pay transparency varies around the world
Some areas in the U.S. are leaps and bounds ahead when it comes to pay transparency. According to Krystal, most other countries are not required to provide pay information. However, retaining a reliable level of pay transparency across a global organization is the right thing to do.
“Companies need to decide what’s right, then shift into having more open conversations about compensation,” Krystal says. “They shouldn’t default to what the law says.”
Startups should define their compensation model and pay transparency expectations and clearly communicate those to employees and people leaders.
In some countries and cultures, compensation conversations are difficult. Still, building the right training models, defining and de-biasing compensation practices and pay ranges, and continuously replicating those across every area of expansion helps promote the difficult conversations necessary for identifying inequity in your pay structure.
Guiding principles for HR leaders experiencing hypergrowth
Navigating global expansion can be challenging for HR leaders. Krystal aims to help ease others’ transitions and offers some advice she’s gained from experience.
1. Get other teams involved
In addition to leaning on employees for expectations and cultural context, Krystal says internal relationships are also paramount: “The partnerships you have within your organization are incredibly important. Work with your accounting team, your finance team, and your legal team, and ask questions.”
Additionally, organizations should always employ legal counsel when expanding into a new country or region.
2. Partner with local vendors
There are organizations that specialize in locations available to support payroll and HR needs. Krystal has even worked with co-employment organizations that help with hiring.
“Those partnerships really help us navigate new situations and new countries,” she says.
Rather than investing in an attorney with each shift and expansion, consider partnering with these local vendors.
3. Be patient with yourself
“There is no way to be an expert in every country,” Krystal says. “Ask questions, build your knowledge and be patient with yourself.”
The more information you can bring to your leaders to protect them and the company, the better you can ensure employees are getting the right they deserve and the better off your business will be.
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