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30 April 2021

In, Up & Out – In HR we can overcomplicate things. Founders are confused, Managers are confused and even HR teams are confused. 

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Posted by: Katy Mcminn

Guest Blog from Dylan Roberts &, an HRi Accredited Platinum Member

In, Up & Out

In HR we can overcomplicate things.  Founders are confused, Managers are confused and even HR teams are confused.  We use a ton of jargon and what we need to do is take it back to first principles.

So, let me offer you absolute clarity.  

Your HR, or People, partner does 3 things for you.

  • We bring people IN
  • We move people UP
  • We support people OUT

That’s it.  Sounds easy right?  Let me explain in some more detail.


“We can’t deliver on time!  Our clients are shouting at us!  We’re going to fail!  Hire more people!”  Ever heard these words before?

Yes, part of our role as HR partners is to ensure we hire the right people.  But our main contribution, and in part how we justify our position, is in ensuring we hire the right people, into the right seats, at the right time.

‘IN’ isn’t a big red button with HIRE inscribed on it.  It is spending time building a resource plan, which is tied into the commercial and product roadmaps, which each and every part of the organisation agrees with, supports and dedicates their efforts in delivering.

‘IN’ is not opening the door to welcome new arrivals or presenting an impressive looking source funnel for vacancies.

‘IN’ is preparing the ground, securing foundations for new people to thrive in their roles and supporting an organisation and its leadership teams to make the effort in ensuring others succeed.

By establishing a plan, a people roadmap, we begin to see a route to your destination where we deliver commercial success and enable your people to thrive.  But a map, a people roadmap, needs both a start and an end point.  Have you tried using a satnav without it knowing either your current position or destination?  Exactly, this is no different.

Establishing a people roadmap will enable you to understand where you need to hire people, into which roles, and when they need to be in place.

But it also allows us to think about people you already have, and that brings us to ‘UP”


“Develop talent for tomorrow, rather than just hire for yesterday”

Pearl Zhu

“Excellent, we’ve hired some amazing new people!  That’s another job out of the way, now to focus on getting more sales!” – said many a Founder/CEO…

Also sounding familiar?

This isn’t easy.  Developing plans, estimating resources, managing people, and dealing with clients.  Where does the time go?

People often represent the highest cost within any SME.   Your people roadmap will list the skills you’re going to need in the future to deliver for your larger client base, against your aggressive competitors.  We’re at an often-visited Founder’s crossroads.  Do you hire more people to fill those gaps, or do you train your existing people?

The answer you’re looking for is probably a bit of a mash-up of the two approaches.

To be able to train people you need to have a base of knowledge and experience to work with.  But without that base you will need to hire the right people in.  The trick is not to presume that the ‘HIRE’ button is the only one left to press on your management console.  There are often other options available, but they need to be set in motion much earlier than they tend to be.

The commercial benefit of an effective HR partner is to maximise a company’s Return on Investment in its People, it’s ROIP.

What we are doing is ensuring we train the right people, in the right seats, at the right time.


That time has come, as it does for all SME Founders.

When you created this company 5 years ago you surrounded yourself with like-minded people, and now you find yourself asking “Are these people able to take me through the next phase of growth?”

Perhaps.  But for some, either you or they will conclude it’s time for a change.  This is not a disaster, but it is an issue which you need to address head-on.

People change.  This may sound obvious, but we need to understand how this truth impacts on fast-growth SMEs.  The skills and behaviours required in a start-up aren’t all transferable to managing a larger enterprise, and vice-versa.

The ability to leap from one problem to the next, putting various fires out as you go, is of huge benefit in an SME’s early days, but can be seen as disruptive as a company scales up.

In the same way we hire the right people, into the right seats, at the right time, we also need to ensure we retain the right people, in the right seats, at the right time.

For some, their tenure in their role, and in fact the company, is no longer justified.  Either for them or the company.  This is a tough reality, but they are holding both themselves and their colleagues back from ongoing success.  Not because of a failure to deliver, but rather a failure to progress.

With a commercially aligned HR partner you will identify, and act upon, those people who, for one reason or another, need to move on to pastures new.  This allows fresh growth across the company and you to achieve your goals and success earlier


So, when someone next asks you “What do you do in HR?”, tell them:

“We hire, train, and retain the right people, in the right seats, at the right time allowing you to achieve your commercial potential and your people to thrive.

That’s what we do in HR.”


About Dylan Roberts &

Dylan is an experienced Chief People Officer who has supported Founders & Leaders of high-growth scaling enterprises in ensuring they realise commercial value through their people

He set up in 2020 to deliver an ‘on-demand CPO experience’ and now works with leadership teams in implementing people roadmaps to bring their commercial roadmap to life when they are experiencing growing pains, people challenges or team disharmony. provides Founders and Leaders with proven expertise across the full spectrum of “People as a Service (PaaS)” to maximise their Return on Investment in People, their ROIP, whilst at the same time enhancing their peoples’ wellbeing and value.

As a Platinum an Accredited  member of HRi, Dylan Roberts and feature in the HRi Directory, having been assessed against the HRi standards.