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Learning lessons of dotcom age

May 12, 2021

first_img Comments are closed. Learning lessons of dotcom ageOn 13 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today The second half of last yearsaw one young e-business crash after another and was in stark contrast to thepreceding 12 months when, it seemed, dotcoms could not fail. After consulting work in a numberof e-businesses, including the ill-fated Boo.com, Robin Derrett, formerEuropean HR director of retail outlet Gap, set up a consultancy to supportstart-ups, venture capitalists or incubator companies involved with dotcoms.Derrett runs thehrpeople.com withco-director Tanya Sinclair, who worked with him at Gap as UK recruitmentmanager. It also offers interim HR management and outsourced HR services.Current clients include the idea-to-IPO incubator Gorilla Park, Shell InternetWorks, the Ministry of Sound and e-Kingfisher, the e-channel of the majorretailing group.Why did youdecide to set up thehrpeople.com?Robin Derrett While working indotcoms I realised the need for quality HR support. Many receive no HR supportuntil it is too late. I like the feeling of providing an HR contribution earlyand really making a difference. It’s an opportunity to reinvent HR’s service tobusiness.Tanya Sinclair We realised whatdotcoms want isn’t the standard service – they need someone to stay with themand execute it. How does yourrelationship with the client work typically?RD Usually clients are in the50 people or less category and are usually an e-business. We go on site for sixto 12 weeks and put in the HR infrastructure: performance management,contracts, payroll, organ- isational structures, compensation and benefitspackages and recruitment. We only recruit for the customer on its own site – weare not a recruitment agency and need to remain separate from it.TS None of our clientrelationships have been the same so far. At Gorilla Park, I went in as acompensation and benefits specialist and ended up looking after recruitment andan HR office. With e-Kingfisher, it wanted a rapid expansion and we puttogether a preferred supplier list and got on with hiring. For the group’sB&Q channels, I did a specific generalist role and set up the HRdepartment.We have lots of ways we cansupport clients. We also offer what we call HR direct where a client retainsour services when it needs us. What are thecommon mistakes people make when staffing an e-business or e-division?RD Using poor qualityrecruitment providers and processes, lack of anticipation of what life in adotcom is like, under-recruiting the skills required, lack of courtship of keyrecruits, offering wrong packages and poor planning. TS Lots of line managers saythey can’t make a decision – they are not really sure what core competenciesthey’re looking for. We have found that unless the recruitment and selection processis slick and the company is set up to offer jobs quickly, it will miss outbecause the candidate will have had three other offers by then. There has beentoo much emphasis on stock options – people much prefer a higher salary now.Bonus programmes and giving employees targeted goals are of interest though,and are more effective.You couldn’tsee a newspaper at the end of last year without reading about another dotcomcrash. What were the main factors for failure as you saw it?RD The failures are in no smallpart due to lack of HR support – whether it be recruiting and retaining theright talent, or packing growth in line with finances. Other factors were lackof focus and delivery against objectives, poor structures, increasingly poorcommunications and immature management. Boo was a high-profilecasualty. You were brought in a long time after launch but what were its mainfailings?TS The management was talentedand bright but lacked corporate experience and there was a lack of empowerment –one or two key individuals wanted to make all the decisions. From day one wehad six offices in New York, Paris, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Munichbecause it was launched as a global company. One of the first things I had todo was make 50 to 60 people redundant because there was no manpower plan orclear organisation chart.But it was an amazingexperience – the culture, passion, energy and belief, even when the liquidatorswere in everyone thought we would get a buyer. Whenever I enter a company now Iask where the plan is, the mission statements, the budgets and who is makingthe decisions.How do you feel the nextwave of dotcoms will fare?RD I suspect that the nature ofstart-ups will remain the same, only the venture capital and money people willbe more rigorous about management skills and many will take a closer look atwhat HR has to offer at an earlier stage.TS I think we’ll see thecontinued emergence of dotcorps which will combine the sturdy principles ofold-fashioned business with the pace and culture of dotcoms. Unless dotcoms canadopt some of their disciplines, they’ll have difficulties. If they’re smartthey should investigate best practice from both sides.Everyone said the main problemwith Boo was it spent too much on marketing – but it wasn’t just that.Unfortunately, the real lesson we should learn has not been so wellarticulated.http://www.thehrpeople.com/Websiteof the week: www.trainingpages.co.ukNot all websites are open abouthow many visitors they have because, quite frankly, it can make pitiful reading.Not so, though, Training Pages from information systems and marketing companyGB Direct; it bares all in its automatically updated access statistics section.You can view how many people have visited the site this year on any given day.23 January saw most hits with 2,131, but even Sundays score around the 400-500mark – what ever happened to the day of rest?. While all of this makesinteresting reading, the site’s primary aim is finding you a course and with10,984 courses grouped into 335 categories, it should succeed. As well assearching through each category, you can search by keyword or refine yoursearch by selecting desired experience, delivery method and duration. All ofour searches returned a healthy crop of courses, complete with mini synopsis,which can then be clicked through for full details. Users are then given theoption of contacting the course provider via e-mail or phone. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img

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