In the early stages of a business, owners have the privilege to layout a solid foundation. Managing people is never easy and creating company culture is very challenging. Here are the little things that you can do to make a big impact in managing your start-up:
Don’t just manage, lead.
A manager is a title handed out by companies. A leader is a title given by a team earned through trust. Sure, it’s your job to delegate tasks, but if that’s all you do, then that’s all what your team will see you as.
Pitch in ideas and carry your own weight. In short, show your team what made you the leader in the first place. Why should they trust your vision? Why should they invest their time on a start-up instead of a more established company where there’s more job and financial security? Somewhere along the way, someone will point out – what exactly is it that you do? This ambiguity cuts employee confidence.
As a start-up owner, there’s going to be a desire to micromanage. After all, this is your “baby”. But having a manager breathing down your neck or hovering around your desk adds pressure and distraction.
In order for your employees to trust you, you have to trust them too. Trust them to handle their time, especially break schedules. Trust them to do their job. Besides, if you hire the right people, why worry? You can always step in any way when someone’s getting too distracted.
You always tell your team to pitch in their ideas, but are you available to listen? You can’t lock up your team in a boardroom and expect results in an hour. Most often, the ideas that do work need to be fleshed out and pondered on.
Whether it’s through an open door policy or email, you need to provide feedback. If not, your employees will eventually feel that it’s a futile exercise and stop making an effort.
Break bread, not backs.
If you’ve ever seen a Google office, they make an effort to promote work-life balance while at work. A two-day off in a five-day work week isn’t enough for most people. Unfortunately as a start-up, dry cleaning services, free haircut, and swim-in-place swimming pools are way out of the budget.
Breaks are these nifty little time out periods when you can drop everything and detach yourself from work. The best alternative is an impromptu lunch with your team. Food breaks barriers. Plus, you’ll find out what are your team’s aspirations outside work.
Intrinsic-based, not extrinsic-driven culture
Company culture doesn’t work because businesses often try to mix it with a working environment. Culture is about sharing experiences and interests, like free Starbucks coupons and holiday parties. Working environment is performing a specific function. You have your own job to do even if you’re part of a team. You can’t just lump people together, come up with a statement, and expect them to assimilate it in time.
The best way to motivate people is to find out what drives them. Once you find out what your employees like to do outside their day job, give them time to work on their own projects. Provide a space where they can mentally re-charge and relax for a bit. This promotes company culture from the right place – your employees – not some mantra that will get lost in the daily grind.