Kenny Yu on the balancing act of managing top talent
When starting a new business, it can be tempting to get wrapped up in the numbers – but investing in your people early on will pay dividends for the rest of your business journey.
That’s why Hupo sat down with Kenny Yu - Managing Partner at BlackHills Consulting. Since 2016, Kenny and his team have scaled BlackHills from a startup to a well-known boutique real estate firm of 130+ employees — primarily by focusing on talent from day one.
Below, Kenny explores the why and how of investing in talent management, including:
Let’s dive in.
It’s so important for anyone starting a business to invest the money to support their talent and their image in the industry before they can really make a fortune.
Ignoring talent management will hinder your business growth
Early on, founders tend to neglect investing in first hires and physical spaces. With a keen focus on staying lean, they often hire for the lowest possible salaries in the cheapest possible office.
Here’s what typically happens next:
This is why the BlackHills team has invested heavily in their people from the get-go. By hiring the right talent and putting them in a workplace where they can feel at home and productive, the firm can simultaneously:
It’s hard to survive as a one-man band when you have surrounded yourself with staff who can only perform at 40% because you didn’t invest in the talent to meet your business goals.
Even with an impressive reputation, startups can struggle to attract and retain top talent.
For instance, BlackHills is already well-known and highly respected as a boutique firm in their industry based in Hong Kong. However, they’re up against far more established names, which have the operational security, support networks, etc.
As a result, the best talent in the pool may question, “The company is great, but is there enough support for me to launch and sustain my career here?” With this, BlackHills has kept the two following tactics in mind:
1. Investing in talent management to attract top talent
It wasn’t until 2023 that Kenny began to see job seekers treat BlackHills like a reputable startup employer (as opposed to just a well-known boutique firm). He attributes this shift to a number of workplace and people-first initiatives over the years — the latest being partnering with Hupo to:
By investing in and offering talent resources like Hupo, BlackHills shows prospective hires that they take employee development and career growth seriously.
2. Balancing employee satisfaction with motivation to improve
Since he and his partners founded BlackHills in 2016, Kenny has constantly asked, “How can I make our team happy and keep them happy?”.
It’s an effective, motivating mantra. It can also lead to a problematic team mentality. “Your people may assume the company will do everything for them,” explains Kenny, “instead of motivating themselves to contribute to the business and also take responsibility for their own growth”.
With Hupo’s help, his team has pivoted to balancing and aligning what employees want with what the company needs, in a way that benefits both. Kenny now asks:
Want to know more about Hupo and Blackhills’ partnership? Read on here.