An Open Source Company Handbook

One of the things that I’m very excited about it is growing our team beyond the founders. This is something that I had the very special privilege of doing in my last venture where I hired the first 40+ folks to the team.

To add a bit more flavor and context, I hired those folks within the span of 12 months and our retention rate was 13%, which is phenomenal compared to what typically happens in hyper-growth startups where the retention/attrition rate is greater than 40% per year, generally speaking.

What we did right could be boiled down into two very distinct and powerful ideas:

  1. The leadership was very clear on the corporate values and who we were as a founding team.
  2. We open sourced our handbook to the staff who could contribute to our growing playbook(s) as we added more team members.

These two things worked well and it is what informed our new hires of what we expected of them (and what they could expect from us) and minimized ambiguity around human capital-related things that should never be ambiguous (like health benefits, payroll, time off, and other employment policies).

What we essentially did as a team was create a healthy communication system that was globally accessible to all. And, as I mentioned, since it was open source, the new staff were able to contribute to the handbook as they experienced them and were able to add anything that was functionally missing and/or remove outdated pieces of information.

The result was a powerful feeling of ownership around the entire team. If you didn’t feel like there was something right about the existing handbook then you could change and update it. Consequently, their own personal investment in the effort to grow the culture was visible and explicit. The personal feeling of buy-in was second-to-none.

So, clearly, I want to bring back those types of dynamics to our team here at Pinpoint but also do it better than I did the last time I implemented some of these People Operations type mechanics, which leads me to (go figure) a new GitHub repository called “Handbook“.

The Pinpoint Staff Handbook

A couple of very key things with this repository:

  1. It’s a true “WIP” (Work In Progress) and will ultimately be that way interminably. Just as organizational culture is fluid and ever-changing this repository should continue to be updated as our company grows.
  2. It’s mostly boilerplate, for now, and there’s a ton missing (TBD). I spent some time about a month ago building out the main sections and will continue to massage it as we encounter need.
  3. It’s free for anyone to use for their own organization, so, feel free to fork it or download it and use it and share it.

My hope is that as we add team members we can flesh out the details in the documents and have them contribute to them as they can.

Is this the perfect solution for creating an open dialogue and framework for employees and staff around policies, organizational culture, and other operational procedures? Absolutely not!

My hope is that it simply provides value to the point that it can no longer scale and then we’ll find a different system and solution that fits the needs of the organization later.

But as I mentioned larger README, most companies (especially early-stage startups) fail to even have anything codified so even the smallest amount of energy and investment in this area can have a significant impact, short and long-term impact.

And, let’s be honest – having something is definitely better than nothing.

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