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“As Vice President of People Operations at Wasson Enterprise (WE), I am responsible for creating and implementing people strategies that drive and enforce our core values through the entire employee lifecycle — including HR planning, attraction & acquisition, talent development, engagement, and performance management. I also work closely with our portfolio and partner companies to build scalable, flexible HR strategies and systems. My involvement can vary widely, from acting as their people strategy leader until an HR resource is needed within their team, to acting as a thought-partner and sharing my experience and previous learnings. With every project and engagement, I like to focus on two primary goals:

  1. To ensure WE employees have a great employee experience driven by WE Core Values, and
  2. Add long-term value to our partner companies by providing services or expertise that enhance their people strategies & employee experience.

Over the course of my 17 years in human resources, I’ve learned a lot, and I love that I’ve had the ability to reach and impact employees across each organization I’ve worked with. What makes my job so rewarding is that I have the opportunity to connect with employees and across departments on a daily basis. As part of my role, I am responsible for the employee lifecycle – from being recruited to working for, and even exiting, the company. I am often the very first person to reach out to a future employee in the recruitment process and the last person they would speak with before moving on. Additionally, I love working alongside our portfolio companies to help them build teams and cultures that drive the results of their organization. Regardless of the size of the company, the difference in success and failure is often determined by the culture and quality of the leadership team – both of which HR plays a critical role in establishing. 

Before working at Wasson Enterprise, I worked at a few large Fortune 500 companies, including one of the world’s largest, Amazon. One of the biggest surprises about working within smaller, startup companies through WE has been how similar the HR solutions are, regardless of the size or stage of the company we’re working with. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely differences, specifically related to the amount of rigor or detail that is required (or even welcome) in a startup company. What I’ve learned is that it’s important to keep processes simple and constantly challenge yourself to ask “what are we trying to accomplish with this exercise?”. For example, while large companies may have complex performance review processes that take months to complete, startups and small companies will benefit from the conversations, development and coaching that occur during the performance review process, but keeping it simple can be critical to get the process to “stick”. 

At WE, we keep the process simple and focus on the conversation between employee and manager, and not so much on ratings, SMART goals or comparisons to peers. This has been key to the success of the process in fast-moving, startup organizations. In summary, people strategies are very important to the success of a startup company, but tailoring that process to the culture and dynamics of that team are equally important.”

– Josh Salyer, Vice President of People Operations