Successful entrepreneurs on the natural tensions in scale-up cultures

Last week we celebrated the opening of our new VIE People office in Rotterdam with our friends, client and partners. We invited top entrepreneurs for a panel discussion on the hard truth about innovation culture and they had some valuable lessons to share. Here are the most important takeaways for those who couldn’t make it. Let’s learn from the best!   Present at our opening were public speaker, entrepreneur and author Kees de Jong who has interviewed the most successful entrepreneurs of the country throughout his career. Lara Timmerman, the CEO of Pop Vriend Seeds. Your salads are more than likely to contain spinach grown by her family company. Siete Hamminga, founder of Robin Radar, a company that uses radar technology to help clear the airports from birds and drones so both humans and birds can fly safely. Nils Clement, CEO of Euro-Caps, a company devoted to making coffee capsules and last but not least Günther Vogelpoel, CEO of Creative Group, a business that is a leading the exchange of digital value.  In a time of rapid growth some natural tensions start to manifest. Every entrepreneur will encounter them at some point. During our opening we had these inspiring entrepreneurs reflect on their struggles when scaling up.  For successful experimentation you need rigorous discipline In the beginning phases of starting a company everyone is very willing to experiment and ideas are flowing freely. But a piece of advice for every entrepreneur: once you have found your model or product, stick to it. Discipline comes after creativity. You need discipline to follow one course and doing so requires you to kill your darlings – even if it took five years to develop the product.   Create a culture of individual accountability by being sincerely honest The golden rule during meetings is to never focus on who caused the problem. Instead look for solutions. Sincerely honest doesn’t mean you should find out who is to blame and tell them all about what they have done wrong. It refers to being honest about the steps that can be taken to do better next time. The biggest challenge when scaling up is to hold people accountable without casting blame.  A flat organizational structure requires strong leadership Everyone aims to keep their organization flat while growing fast, but it requires a type of leader that can let go, delegate and coach. To break down hierarchies the entire company needs to know exactly what the vision and mission is, so communication is key.  Research suggests that the more successful you are as an entrepreneur, the less empathetic you become. Doing well shuts you off to the possibility of change because the fact that you are doing well proves that you know what’s best. This is a critical mistake and a deadly mindset for entrepreneurs. The only way to keep your business thriving on the long run is the commitment to keep learning and developing yourself as a leader.  The very best entrepreneurs are the ones that dare to fail Each of the five guest entrepreneurs present at the opening of our new branch admitted to making a lot of mistakes in the process of scaling their business. When liaising with a new partner, be critical on their background, mission and strategy, just like you would be when recruiting new staff. Another top mistake is to lose yourself in your enthusiasm about a product and forgetting to test the market. So keep asking the right questions, keep an open mind and don’t close yourself off to collaboration. You cannot possibly run a successful scale-up all yourself!
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How to avoid after-holiday blues

Last week, we wrote a blog with useful tips on how to take long holidays without your company collapsing. It’s all in the preparation. A relaxing holiday starts with tying up loose ends at work, packing your suitcase and listing priorities for when you return. Sadly, summer is coming to an end, so this week we’re focusing on after-holiday blues and how to avoid it.   Have you ever felt overwhelmed when returning to work after a holiday? Join the club. As the French say: partir c’est mourir un peu – to leave, is to die a little. Swapping your palm tree view for a glum city skyline can weigh you down. Many feel a bit shell-shocked when getting back to work after a long break. These tips from our very own Head of VIE People Amsterdam Mechteld Daniels and HR-consultant Babet Becker will soften your landing. Plan a passion project for when you return Babet: “Scheduling time for a work-related project that truly enthuses you is like giving your future self a present.” Do it before you go on holiday so you have something to look forward to when you get back. Return a few days before coming back to work As tempting as it is to stay at your holiday destination for as long as you can, “it is worth your while coming home a little earlier”, says Mechteld. Allowing yourself the time to land softly, sleep off your jetlag and unpack will have you come back to the office rested and prepared.  Keep exploring in your home country One of the things that makes traveling special is the openness you experience – the fuck-it mentality. All of a sudden you turn into a yes-man. But there’s no need to cross the border to chase the thrill you get from exploring. Babet’s suggestion: “Plan regular, out-of-the-ordinary trips or excursions in your own country or even neighborhood.” Go to a province you have never been to, book a surf lesson, plot your own biking tour through the neighborhood and make a pitstop for a prosecco breakfast on the way. Spend your free time in nature, not on Netflix “I felt truly calm after a week of sailing in the US with my husband and two kids. Being outside and on the water always has a soothing effect on me”, says Mechteld while flicking through her holiday pics. Simulate that holiday bliss by going on evening walks in the park after work, instead of vegging out on the couch.  Schedule quality time with family and friends All of a sudden you find yourself having real talks by the poolside – the type of conversations that go beyond the day-to-day recount of events. You have infinite time to reflect and to connect with family and friends while on holiday. Mechteld: “I play much more games with the kids when holidaying, but as soon as we get back home everyone goes back to watching series and doing their own thing.” So free your schedule for quality time with them when you get back too. “I make sure I have most meals with my kids and husband during the week, so we can share that moment.” And why not plan regular play-dates?
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How to use system-thinking as a tool for effective HR

All too often managers and CEOs make the same mistake. They try to solve a problem by looking at the root cause. Inevitably this leads to a blame game - turning meetings into a whodunit quest. But it’s a game without winners, says Marijke Spanjersberg. She teaches system thinking and is the right hand and sparring partner of many CEOs - including our very own Wendy van Ierschot. “We humans are not at all linear. Our behavior is not based on cause and effect, as we like to think. So we need to look at what goes wrong in the system.”   Check out this podcast and learn how to problem-solve, break your patterns and collaborate like a champ.  
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Why taking longer holidays makes you a better entrepreneur

A three-week holiday to China with the kids followed by a two-week staycation. For most CEOs it’s a faraway dream. The common perception of the ever-present workaholic entrepreneur is still very much alive. They’ve got it all wrong, says Wendy van Ierschot (47), founder of VIE People. “Taking longer holidays makes me a better entrepreneur.” Here’s how to get away without leaving your company to crumble.       There’s no in between for the founder of the ever-growing HR-consulting firm VIE People. Wendy only knows two modes: on and off. And on she was. Years ago, not long after starting her company, she was in Spain with her young children and husband. “Every time they looked away, or were in the swimming pool or grabbing an ice cream, I was emailing or making acquisition calls.” Wendy laughs as she recalls sitting on a terrace next to the pool, finally shutting down her laptop and realizing it was the last day of her holiday. “It was completely ridiculous; I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed I was ruining my time away with my family. I was so disillusioned.” When she got back home she had to drag herself to work. She felt tired. Now, more than a decade later, Wendy has perfected her getaway-strategy. Her six tips will have you completely switch off during a luscious, long holiday and return to work inspired and energized.     Make yourself partially dispensable A great holiday starts with the right preparation. How do you get your organization to keep running smoothly in your absence? By continuously asking yourself if you are the only person capable of doing the task at hand. If that is the case you have to look at what you can do to transfer the task to others in your team. Wendy: “Train your current staff members to do what you do best. If you want to be a good leader you have to stop doing what you are good at and become a coach instead.”   Increasing the length of your holiday each year How healthy is your organization? Put it to the test by taking a holiday. “When scaling up you should at least be able to take a two-week break without putting your company at risk”, Wendy explains. As you scale up take longer holidays each year to test if your business will keep running without you. Besides it being a good health-indicator of your company, it’s important for entrepreneurs to take regular breaks because it puts things into perspective. “Throughout the year I keep wanting to take my company to the next level. I want to work harder, better, faster, stronger. But after I’ve come back from my holiday, I can take a step back and prioritize other things.”   If you want to take a months’ holiday, take 6 weeks off “I now always take 6 weeks off during the kids’ summer holidays in July and August.” The trick is to use the first week to finish up the last bits of work. “Make a list of priorities at the end of the first week, so you know exactly where to start when you get back to work. You’ll see that what you prioritize before you go on holiday versus after you get back can be completely different.” Then drop everything, switch off and enjoy a relaxing 4-week holiday. Using the last week to slowly ease yourself into working-mode avoids after-holiday blues. More importantly it allows you to catch up, so you can kickstart work the next Monday.    Set up an out-of-office and ignore your inbox To return to work truly rested, setting up the right out-of-office is crucial. By right we mean that it manages expectations. The message should be simple and clear: you can reach me, but strictly for important stuff. For everything else, you can email my colleague. Wendy: “I always give my contacts the option of messaging me on my phone if its urgent, but I rarely receive any messages. People respect each other’s time off. That’s nice to experience.” Save yourself and your colleague work by calling your clients to action – they will only do so in case of emergency. “When I take my six weeks off, I write that I’ll be away for three. After three weeks I take one day to pay the salaries of my employees, do my taxes and read my most important emails. Then I change my return date to three weeks from then.”   Use your holiday to evaluate A long break is the perfect occasion to reflect on how things are going. Much better than, say, the end of the year. December is a busy time so take some time during your holiday to ask yourself if you are happy with what you have accomplished that year and with how the business is growing. “Your own power is the biggest weakness of the company, and you will only notice the weaknesses of your business when you take a break.” Use the rest of the year to polish up and improve those things. “My company was still running smoothly when I got back from my holiday”, Wendy explains. But she did notice they were behind on acquisition. “So instead of getting my employees up to speed by giving a presentation – something that had failed to work in the past – I let my team interview me, allowing them to tackle the issues they were struggling with.”   Give yourself a bonus if your company is still alive and kicking when you return If your company is still intact upon return it means you’ve done an excellent job. “Reward your hard work with a bonus. It helps you finance the next holiday and it’s a great incentive to do even better next time.”    So plan your leave for next year right now and take this year to prepare your organization for your absence! Leave us a note if it worked (or not ;-)).    
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How Rijksmuseum drastically changed its performance management system

In a short amount of time Rijksmuseum went from measuring staff performance using standardized surveys and fixed annual performance reviews to a system based on accountability and personal development. Here’s how one of Amsterdam’s biggest museums decided to put their employees in charge of their own development.    The case Rijksmuseum  In over a decade world-famous Rijksmuseum grew from having 420 to an astounding 770 staff members. After a 10-year period of renovation, the museum reopened its doors to the public in 2013 and as a result took on over 350 people. With a bigger variety of new and more assertive staff came the need to develop a different way of monitoring performance.    Employees at Rijksmuseum vary from security personnel to scientists, conservators and highly skilled experts specialized in – let’s say – tin bowls from the 17th century. One single performance system to asses employees working in over 160 wildly different positions? Yep. Challenge accepted. Rijksmuseum HR-advisor Bart Schindeler (36): “Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to look at our challenges from a different perspective.”    VIE People HR-consultant Bonnie Luijten (39) recalls her first meeting with one of the museum’s directors. “He asked me what the newest and best performance management system was.” There is no such thing, Bonnie answered. “Every company would be using it by now if there was.” Instead, looking at the true needs and wishes of the organization and at its current company culture is the way to go.      Ranking and rewarding VIE and the HR department of Rijksmuseum joined forces and got to work. The verdict: members of each layer of the organization found the current performance management system to be unmotivating, routinely, outdated and unpractical.    Performance was graded on a scale from A to D, evaluated by managers by ticking boxes on a survey. Staff attended a mandatory yearly performance review led by their managers – potentially leading to a raise – and one yearly assessment interview. The system was based on ranking and rewarding.    "We found that some managers find it difficult to honestly asses their staff members. When performance was suboptimal, they ended up ticking the ‘average’ box”, Schindeler explains. Research suggests that also in other companies this is often the case when managers are asked to fill out a survey about their employees. Needless to say, this approach rarely leads to improvement. Things had to change. And they did Intensive sessions with directors, managers and employees of the organization followed. More than half a year of research and brainstorms gave rise to a totally different way of doing things. The ranking-system had to go and so did the mandatory performance reviews. Instead, each staff member now automatically gets a raise. No lengthy forms, no ticking boxes, but a personal approach in which the employee takes the lead.    Every team discusses next year’s goals and targets during an annual team meeting. Instead of the team leader, the employee initiates, plans and prepares the one-on-one annual development talk between the manager and employee. A performance review will no longer occur annually, but only when a staff member excels or when things are not going well.    Gradually the museum is changing its’ work culture. An open feedback culture? One bridge too far, for now. Schindeler: “Going from ranking and filling out a form to giving feedback in a face-to-face conversation is a huge step we aren’t ready for yet.” Rijksmuseum staff will slowly ease into the idea by opening up the possibility to give and receive feedback during the one-on-one’s.    Surprising outcome Although the museum is in the middle of its transitional year, the first reactions to the changes have been very positive. So far, almost every department had its first annual team meeting. Guided by a simple form, the board of directors formulate the vision and priorities of the museum, which the department managers translate into team goals for that year. From there on each individual employee decides how he/she will contribute in achieving those targets.     Barbera van Kooij (57), head of the publishing department was surprised by the outcome. Having her team members reflect on and suggest their own targets based on the priorities of the museum allowed staff to break away from their daily work grind. “Questioning their own ambitions and aims and being presented with the vision and goals of the museum as a whole triggered a feeling of belonging. A true team mentality. Also, my team came up with additional ideas and started taking on extra responsibilities because they felt they could contribute to the bigger picture.”   Curious if Rijksmuseum managed to fully turn its system upside down? Changing systems and mindsets takes time. Stay tuned for the evaluation in 2020. 
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5 hacks to survive a busy summer season at the office

For businesses that have their peak season in summer, the office can quickly become a dreadful place. Staying focused is difficult when your friends are posting photos of palm trees and cocktails and when the beach is calling. Here’s what to do to keep your staff motivated when the temperatures are rising as much as the workload.    Working 40 hours in 4 days If a summer schedule with less working hours feels like too big of a risk, try compressing the 40 hours in 4 days. 10-hour workdays seem long, but if the reward is a 3-day weekend your employees will thank you later.    Freebie Friday Holding special events throughout the summer months helps to keep staff happy after a long week of hard work. Prosecco and oysters after work, a free massage the next week and an Italian ice cream cart the week after. It takes a bit of planning, but the gesture goes a long way.     Relaxed dress code Sitting at a sweltering non-airconditioned office in a button-up shirt and tie can feel claustrophobic. Grooming to perfection takes time too. Cut your employees some slack and allow them some extra sleep or time to themselves in the morning by introducing a relaxed dress code. They’ll be eternally grateful if they can come to work in a breezy-but-not-so-formal summer dress instead of spending those precious morning minutes dolling up for work.    Work from home on any chosen day of the week Show your team some appreciation for their hard work by allowing them to work from home on a day of their choosing. It might feel counterproductive, but the staff will reward your trust with hard work. Outdoors refreshment cart Even at the busiest times taking small breaks clears and resets the mind, leading to a more effective workflow. Providing a refreshment cart in the courtyard of your office is a great way for staff to get some fresh air and break away from the desk. Offer cold drinks, beers or a cool watermelon salad for free or on donation. If you have no garden or courtyard, then having the cart indoors is fine too. Optional is to write a sign encouraging them to take a walk around the block. They’ll come back feeling refreshed and energized. 
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5 hacks to survive a slow summer at the office

Most businesses slow down during the summer season. Employees with kids take their family holidays, clients are out-of-office and the workload lightens. Although it is nice to take a breather from a year’s hard work, this is also a time of opportunity – if managed well. Here’s how to keep your staff motivated during a slow summer.   Brainstorm Monday Use the first hour of every Monday morning to get your team together for a collective brainstorm on the priorities of the next year. Reflect on how to solve problems encountered in the previous year. Urge your staff to think outside the box using brainstorm exercises to come up with creative ideas on what to take on next.    Invest in a personality test Investing in personality testing during a day’s workshop will give your employees a unique insight into their strengths and downfalls, their ambitions and position in the company. Who knows, they might surprise you and bring something new to the table during the next Brainstorm Monday.    Flexible Friday  Boost the productivity of your employees by allowing them to take Fridays off from June to September. Long weekends away, a staycation in the summer sun or more time with family will have your staff coming back to work re-energized. If this feels like too big of a step, try experimenting with half-day Fridays or alternating Friday afternoons off. Important is to keep tracking the results so you can choose the summer-schedule that fits your company.    Update your marketing plan Use the extra time at hand to update your marketing plan. To fuel growth and to keep developing your business, it’s important to carefully evaluate your marketing strategy. Have you been using the same media outlets and templates for years? Maybe it’s time to change it up. Create a content plan, take a social media course, connect with influencers, learn about SEO or update your newsletter template.    Organize a summer event Hire a DJ and throw a rooftop BBQ for employees and clients. Socializing in an informal setting creates a true team spirit and at the same time provides an excellent opportunity to network. Have ice-creams ready for dessert!
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How do I attract my A-player?

Now you know how to find an A-player for your company, but where do you find your A-players? How do you approach them and how do you spark their interest? In other words: how do you attract your future A-player? Attracting your star employees starts with organizing an event tailored to their needs and interests and getting them to attend it.    Sparking curiosity First of all, making a detailed profile of the type of employee you are looking for helps you to narrow down your search. Define details such as background, personality and interests as accurately as possible. What moves our A-player? What gets him/her up in the morning? Also be aware of the opposite: what does he/she detest?  At VIE People we named our model A-player Daniel. An adventurous explorer, someone who loves helping others and wants to make the world a better place. Daniel is not afraid to make decisions and has a clear no-nonsense attitude. He is ‘brutally honest’ … See how he relates to our core values?    Be visible  To meet Daniel in real life and to create a personal connection we organize a quarterly HR Young meetup. An informal event to inspire young HR professionals by sharing relevant and industry-specific information in an innovative and accessible way. Participants share their experiences and learn from each other.    Connect At VIE People we let our core values guide us when we form relationships. We live by our motto ‘be brutally honest’ by openly sharing our thoughts and feedback with the person in front of us. We ‘collaborate’ by constantly learning from each other. This approach fosters an honest and personal connection and ensures more effective and authentic interactions allowing job candidates to feel safe to speak up and surprise. It creates memorable conversations and Daniel will feel sincerely connected.    How do your core values connect people and how can you use them to your advantage when you meet your potential A-player for the first time? These are questions to think about, but not be overly aware of. Use your intuition to find out what feels good and be yourself. In the end it is your open attitude and personality that will allow a connection to flourish.    Stay tuned for how to keep them inspired once onboard and how to lead your A-player.  
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Five Takeaways from the EO @ Harvard Entrepreneurial Strategy Program

Wendy van Ierschot - angel investor, keynote speaker, entrepreneur and thought leader on the human side of business  Every leader wants to keep learning from the best. And it’s a big plus if you can do that learning in an inspiring environment. That’s why I was delighted to take part recently in “EO with Harvard Business School Executive Education: Inspiring Entrepreneurial Strategy”, which was designed for members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and connections to experts. The program was so effective, in so many ways, that I decided to try to boil down the plethora of insights I picked up in it to five takeaways and to share these here. I think any manager, entrepreneur or founder can benefit from them in one way or another. So here goes. Takeaway 1: Focus on the speed of learning Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos used one indicator for success in his sources: the speed at which we learn. The faster we can learn, he believes, the better we will be able to meet our clients’ needs, the happier our teams will be, and the higher our brand value. Of course, this is all much easier said than done. Here at VIE People, we’ve decided to make it possible to measure the speed at which we learn. How we will do that we still need to figure out but focussing on fast learning is what we are doing already. Takeaway 2: Develop all the entrepreneurial roles you need in order to scale up your business John Kotter and Abraham Zalaznik have posited four entrepreneurial roles that they say are crucial to success. It’s important to determine who needs to play which roles in your business, and in what sequence. (Everyone will eventually need to master all of them.) In the start-up phase, the Operator/Controller and External-Relationship Builder are crucial. Later on, when your most valuable player flies the coop without warning, the Mentor/Capability Builder and Innovator/Strategist roles will help your company survive and thrive. Kotter & Zalanik’s Four Roles for Business Success   Here at VIE People, we will be focusing each day on building capabilities within the organization, and on its strategy. At the moment, my own time is eaten up by management tasks or by having coffee with nice, friendly and often inspiring people who operate outside my focus areas, so I can try to help them. Just as often, I spend a lot of time also being nice, but not really helping that much at all. Takeaway 3: Look for what is changing in patterns and trends Instead of focusing on what is happening in the world in order to be able to anticipate and understand patterns and trends, the focus should be on what is changing in those patterns and trends?—?not quite the same thing. Indeed, it’s not the same thing at all. In human resources (HR), for instance, looking at what is happening now means, among other things, being aware of, and having a solid grasp of, the new HR technologies that are being or will be developed. By contrast, understanding what is changing in the underlying HR patterns and trends means being able to see that more and more developers and tech people are focusing their attention on this domain, which has historically been run and supported primarily by psychologists and administrative staff. This new focus on ongoing change promises to bring about a major shift that will increase acceptance of HR as a general matter. Takeaway 4: Top-notch learning makes all the difference Top-notch learning is crucial both to me and to my staff. When I worked for Shell, I enjoyed the Young Managers Program at INSEAD in Fontainebleau. And in a way, the Harvard Program was a continuation of this journey. I’ve also realized that learning from the best is making a real difference to the ways in which VIE People is growing and developing. It can be a big investment?—?but it’s well worth it. Takeaway 5: Inclusiveness is a resource opportunity The value of inclusiveness may not be so evident to many entrepreneurs. But one area in which it has proven its value is in decision-making. Consider, for instance, two mini-scenarios: You’re a project manager, and you think the daily stand-up should focus more intently on the backlog of unresolved issues. You kick off the stand-up one Monday by saying as much, and everyone nods and not much changes. You think the stand-up should focus on the backlog, so you say so, but you also add, “So what does everyone think? Am I missing something? Is there another approach we could be taking? Any and all ideas are welcome.” And after a brief but intense discussion that turns into a mini-brainstorming session (so the stand-up runs over), it turns out that, while focusing on the backlog is all well and good, what’s needed is much greater clarity around ownership of tasks, and a tighter focus on deadlines. The team acts on its own insights and a lot changes for the better. When you agree on that, again ask: who sees a different angle to this challenge In mini-scenario 2, it’s not that the focus on the backlog, which you more or less gavelled through all on your own in 1, was entirely wrong?—?it’s that it was woefully incomplete. And this meant that it remained unclear what the fixes were, and how they could be best be implemented. At VIE People, we now make sure that inclusiveness is a watchword at meetings, both internal and customer-facing. And let’s be clear: it’s not (just) about being nice?—?it’s also about making meetings more effective in identifying feasible solutions. Oh, and one more thing, in addition to the five takeaways above: A program such as EO with Harvard can be counted on to offer a plethora of insights. Insights encourage reflection?—?but what counts is what you do next. Follow-up?—?crafting and implementing effective solutions?—?is key. Watch this space for more on that score. In the meantime?—?and in the spirit of inclusiveness?—?we’d love to hear from you with your own insights, whether these have been prompted in part by any of the above takeaways or are based on your own experiences or both. In closing, I’d like to acknowledge, and thank, the following members of the Harvard faculty whose insights formed the basis for the above takeaways. The links will take you to each professor’s page at Harvard Business School, so you can find out more about the work they do. Lynda M. Applegate, Professor of Business Administration. Lynda’s research and publications focus on the challenges of building new ventures and leading radical business innovations in the face of significant industry, technological, capital market, and regulatory turbulence. William R. Kerr, Professor of Business Administration. William’s research focuses on how companies and economies explore new opportunities to generate growth. Frances Frei, Professor of Technology and Operations Management. Her research investigates how leaders create the conditions for organizations and individuals to thrive by designing for excellence in strategy, operations, and culture. Shikhar Ghosh, Professor of Management Practice, and successful entrepreneur for the last 20 years. Shikhar has been the founder and CEO or Chairman of eight technology-based businesses. Business Week has named him one of the best entrepreneurs in the US, Forbes has called him one of the ‘Masters of the Internet Universe’, and he’s been featured in Fortune as the CEO of one of the 10 most innovative companies in the United States. Wendy van IerschotAngel investor, keynote speaker, entrepreneur and thought leader on the human side of business Wendy is one of Europe’s most prolific angel investors in HR start-ups. She believes that all companies can achieve a success culture at the crossroads of Adaptive HR, HR Tech tools, and personal development. She brings this vision to life as an entrepreneur with her various companies and shares her insights in her keynotes. wendy@viepeople.com
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How a smartwatch inspired to innovate the HR industry

A smartwatch has led Reindert Kriek (37) to his current position, Head of VIE People’s brand-new Rotterdam branch. “I was using analytics as a tool to improve my own wellbeing but the biggest revelation in my working life was when I started linking this insight to the HR industry.”   Freedom to guide a new office Reindert Kriek’s voice radiates with boyish excitement when speaking about the freedom he has been given to lead the Rotterdam office of VIE People, which has its opening party on September 4th. His task will be to guide the new branch to become an autonomous office while sharing the core values of its significant other in Amsterdam. No unnecessary bureaucracy, no reporting to managers, no staff departments. An HR-consultancy firm without an HR-department? Exactly.    Using the A12 to divide and conquer the country's fast-growing enterprises, the Amsterdam office will continue to take on clients north of the highway. The brand-new Rotterdam branch will assist entrepreneurs with their HR challenges in the south. “We needed to keep true ownership of the tasks, our clients and the products we develop. By splitting the company early on, our targets are becoming much more attainable.”    3,5 to 4 hours of sleep a day Adopting a growth-mindset was key in obtaining his current position, Reindert admits. Guided by a simple piece of technology he started on a journey of self-discovery. “I began to track my every move with my new smartwatch. My sleeping pattern, my food intake, my calories. Soon I found out I only slept for about 3,5 to 4 hours a day.” That realization led him to subtly tweak patterns and experiment with forming new habits. Instead of his occasional runs Reindert took up CrossFit. Being physically exhausted by burning more than twice as much energy increased the quality of his sleep. “I was using analytics as a tool to improve my own wellbeing but the biggest revelation in my working life was when I started linking this insight to the HR industry.”   Proving the effectiveness of HR Quantifying the added value of HR products, trainings and tools is what Reindert aims to do in Rotterdam. “HR is often frowned upon and not viewed as cost-effective, but entrepreneurs should look at the bigger picture.” Tracking and combining employee and revenue data and tweaking HR strategy accordingly can be a huge money-saver. “We want to start using data to predict the effects of introducing a company culture based on vulnerability, psychological safety and having clear targets on employee engagement and revenue.” This analytical approach to HR gives entrepreneurs the chance to lead by facts instead of only gut feeling. Solid sleep guaranteed, even without a smartwatch.
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