How to - Not lose your team

Thing I learnt working in a startup

December 24, 2015 - 3 minute read -

I spent 6 months working in a startup, as a do it all, this is what I learnt on team retention + satisfaction.

as a founder, commit fully.

I can’t stress this point enough. If you’re a founder, please, don’t take on 100 other responsibilities other than your startup. Don’t start another project. A startup is already too much for you to handle, starting more stuff only takes away your attention. Now, don’t tell me you’re someone like Elon Fucking Musk, Jack Fucking Dorsey or Steve Fucking Jobs, because you’re not, not yet. If you have a side thing, it’s likely that your team won’t work fully for you, after all, you are the owner of the company and you’re doing something else. Why should your team trust you?

work closely with your team, duh.

You are building a culture, be present, because the company needs you, now. All the saying about “If you cannot take a break from your company you probably failed” is untrue. Startups are fragile, think of them like an infant. They will die if you leave them alone. + You will know when it’s the right time to let go. Work hard, people see people follow.

reply fast.

Whatever it is, whatever time it is, reply fast. Reply once you see the message. I don’t give a shit if you’re in an emotional breakdown or whatever, if you hold for one second, the company halts for one second. Later becomes never and guess what happens to your team while they wait for your reply? Nothing.

decide fast.

In a startup, things only happen when you do it. So make the decision fast, don’t let your team wait. Go with the data.

fulfill your promises.

Don’t promise anything you cannot deliver. This applies to everything in life and it’s especially true in a startup, your team models after you, so if you break promises, don’t expect them to keep theirs.

project a solid vision, even if you’re unsure.

There will be times when you are afraid. That’s good news, at least you have something to lose. In those times it is extremely important to project a solid vision to your team. Because they will be scared as well, they are taking risks as well, they have things to lose as well. Keep them believing is important. It is your responsibility.

hold each other accountable.

Do this, and your team will start to hold themselves accountable. The team will trust you with everything you do.

micromanage, then let go.

Ensure output quality by micromanaging. Let go when it’s the right time to foster creativity. You hire people smarter than you (did you do this?), trust them.

foster open communication.

Updates updates updates. Your team will want to know what’s going on with the company, what’s the next step? More data to them inspires creativity. Even if it’s shit metrics, show it to them, they will notice and will find ways to fix it. DON’T STOP THEM WHEN THEY TRY TO.

Disclaimer: These thoughts came from an employee perspective, now a founder.