HR priorities and planning framework for a greenfield operation – Guide for the lonely CEO.

Identifying hr priorities for a new business or a greenfield operation can be daunting. Ensuring that appropriate hr planning is undertaken helps keep your business well organised. This helps prevents you from feeling the burden once new employees start joining, or when people start refusing your job offers. .

The story begins:

A company decides to enter a new market, and you are hired as the boss.  You are expected to set the ball rolling. The first employee in a new geography – from being a CEO to a janitor. Almost, an entrepreneurial stint – with benefits of a steady pay cheque, probably a well-defined line of products, success history from existing markets, a good brand name – maybe, but with as much pressure, ambiguity, and challenge.

What’s next ? 

You may want to dive into the operations. But then, you need more people to work with you –  to tie up with partners, vendors, to work on setting up offices, facilities etc. You need to think through the process. You need to be clear on stages of action, deliverables and expectations, as well your limits. Possibly, you can hire first few team members without much thought. But then, there needs to be appropriate thought and planning, else you will end up with good number of organisational inconsistencies impacting future operations, culture, productivity etc.

Here’s a framework, that can serve as a starting point for those interested in focussing on HR priorities. This can help start-ups and established business as well.

People Priorities – Planning Framework for Greenfield Operations, Start-Ups, Expansions

Sr. No  Activity Relevance for your HR/People Priorities.
1 Finalise business plan (if it’s already there in some form, revisit the same, review and finalise to the extent possible.). If no concrete information is available, build one on assumptions. You will be working on this with you reporting head and team at the HO responsible for the new business or geography, but you have to take charge as they will expect you to add value, being the boss.

If possible get the – market & revenue projections for 1-3 years ready.

Business plan will impact the structure, manpower plan, manpower budget, hiring efforts, and will also help work up targets & establish performance expectations.

You don’t want to hire a new employee and not be able to give him some clarity about business and job during his interview.


Organisation Structure (Overview – Top 3 Levels)

This will need to be aligned with the Business Plan. Structure will also depend on the business processes, so you may need to connect with the HO / parent company and take help. Structure may also depend on the pattern the company follows for its other business and geographies, unless there’s something unique, that you may want for your business.


This is important, while prioritising hiring, establishing job definition, responsibilities for new hires.


3 Roles & Responsibilities – Clarity for Top 3 Levels in Organisation Structure

To be able to relate the performance expectations for the positions – identify positions of overlap etc.




The Role / Responsibilities – will also help decide the positioning of the concerned jobs and related designations etc. Effort needs to be to avoid any organisational inconsistencies which creeps’ ups during the aggressive hiring’s of a greenfield set-up.

Thinking on all this helps, if you don’t want to end up firing people within 2 years, as your organisation has become top heavy.

4 Staffing Strategy – You need to decide what kind of people you will hire, whom you want on company rolls, what activities will be outsourced.


This will be based on the structure / roles / business plan. Decision on hosting the employees / category of employees on company rolls, vs on external / staffing partner rolls employees.
5 Employer Branding & sales pitch for prospective hirings.

Why should a new employee join your business ?

You need to get the sales pitch out of the history, existing story, and the plan for future. Future challenges, and growth opportunities can be a great motivator for new employees. But, every business is different, and every market is different ? You need to be ready with your organisations sales pitch.

Compliance related matters: 

If this one is still pending, once the above planning is done, or while its underway – you need to focus on compliance , legal and related matters.

Policies & Processes: 

Yup, that’s the next move. But then, hire an HR guy to do it for you :-). In one of my future posts I will write about the priority list of HR Policies & Process for a new setup, start-up.

It’s just a staring point:

Of course, while it’s just a framework for hr planning – it can be a good starting point for many, who are too tied up thinking Stage 1 of business, and are not really able to focus on people priorities.

You are the first of many to come and not the only one. You have to set the stage for others. That means thinking of processes, culture, productivity while trying to build the business.

Send us a line, if the framework helped you in any way.

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