How to Manage a Startup Team Effectively

how to manage team

You Have a Webpage. Now what?

When I started my first company, I thought my most important task was finding clients. And clients are important because they are the people who’ll keep you in business.

So I made an awesome webpage, put all my effort into marketing and sales and for a time, everything went well.

However I had forgotten my teammates and neglected my co-founders. I had no idea how my company should internally function to satisfy those clients I was chasing.

Two years later our little company was done.

Where had I gone wrong?

Every business is only as good as it’s teams. It’s important to make sure everyone works as one and this needs 3 things:

  • internal communication channels;
  • company culture that enforces using those channels;
  • people who are motivated by this preset culture.

The first months after starting a new business are the most crucial ones. This is the time you lay the foundation: make the most important decisions that not only determine how successful you’ll be but if you’ll make it at all.

Right methods of communication.

When I’m talking about the “right” method, I don’t think there’s one “right” and one “wrong.” There are hundreds of communication models that can be set up. It’s your job to understand what’s right for the tasks that are in front of you.

Imagine organizing a party. Yes, it’s important to get people to come, but you must be ready for when they walk through the door. When I organize events, I always choose the music beforehand, so it suits everyone, and make sure people get a chance to talk and feel good.

I know that when the event starts and people are feeling a little awkward, it’s my job to ease them in with chit-chat, but the party should run smoothly even if I step out after that. And that requires thinking ahead to how people communicate. What I, as a host or a CEO, can do, to make everything run smoothly.

Good internal communication make sure everyone in the company understands what’s going on. Considering that lack of communication is the number one mistake companies make in managing their employees, it’s important to get it right, right in the beginning.

Using weekly status reporting and OKRs.

I have big dreams. I know, where I want to be in a year, in 10 years and when I retire.

It’s import to have these dreams, because then I have something to work towards, something that gives purpose to my life. In a company, these dreams are long-term objectives and everyone needs to understand them.

At the same time, dreaming itself will get me nowhere. I must work everyday with my dreams in mind to have a chance of achieving them.

In a company level, that means that you must use a fool-proof weekly communication system that makes sure you know what everyone is doing and how it is related to long-term plans.

I use and promote weekly status reporting (PPP) methodology for everyday reporting and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) (that was made popular by Google), for our long-term plans.

While PPP methodology is already quite well known, the popularity of OKRs is increasing with more managers looking to profit from the approach.

The tool that we have created, Weekdone, offers both of these methodologies combined. Only when implemented together, if short term tasks are aligned with long term goals, are companies truly successful.

Values and culture reflect on everything.

This culture of sharing information and keeping everyone in the teams at the same page, is what increases engagement which, in turn, increases productivity. As studies by Gallup have found, investing in employee engagement leads to bigger profits.

The current problem with engagement is, that most managers think it’s strongly related to wages and monetary rewards. In reality, only about 12% of employees actually leave a company for more money.

Rather, a culture of sharing that promotes clear communication, is what they need. Currently only about 12% of employees say their manager helps them set work goals, but those 12% are 56% more productive.

If you can be more productive than your competitors from day one, it will be a lot easier to leave them behind.

First employees are the most important.

Finding the right people early on is vital. They will be your first brand ambassadors who ensure your company name will be synonymous with good quality service and professionalism.

When you’re hiring your first employees, you have an advantage. You don’t have to take people and then shape the company culture based on them. There are many talented people out there, so you can choose the best people who fit your preset culture and values.

As the Evening Standard wrote: “The first members of staff that you hire are likely to set a precedent, which will be fundamental to the company’s ethos and attitude towards its employees in the years to come.“

Ratchets of a machine.

Every decision a leader makes during the first few months after starting a new business will have a long term effect on the company.

You can either put some cheap business together with duck-tape and glue and hope, you’ll get a chance to make it better over time, or you can build a perfect wondrous machine, where every ratchet works as one.

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