Engage Your Team in Reshaping Your Startup for the Better

In the world of startups, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. That’s just as true of figuring out what to sell as it is the day-to-day operation of the business itself. No two startups are the same, and you need to work constantly to figure out what exactly you need to do to get your own working at the highest level. Where better to look than your own team for the answers to those questions.

As with all endeavors that take more than one person to accomplish, a successful startup is by nature collaborative. Everyone needs to contribute at their best level to create any kind of sustained success.

While there is no doubt that people should know where they stand—with defined roles and a strong sense of personal responsibility—it’s critical that everyone feel like they have a voice no matter where they stand in that framework.

This can be to the great benefit of team health and continued productivity, as you would probably expect, but maintaining a clear dialogue with your employees can also be the best source of inspiration when things aren’t going the way that they should.

It may not always seem like it, but your team wants to be a part of that process of renewal and change. If they are working in a space where they feel like they can make meaningful contributions then ideas and feedback will feel like a natural extension of the work flow—not an overload of their already taxed bandwidth.

In fact, the simple process of taking a step back and evaluating where you stand can be a great rejuvenating force for everyone involved. It’s so easy to get caught in the tedium of the day to day and lose track of what it’s all for. That opportunity to really get together and brainstorm a path to the future is sometimes all that you need to just get excited about working again.    

We all want to believe really and truly that we are building toward something—that our work is going to mean something bigger. It’s the responsibility of the leader to pave the path for everyone to follow, but not to lay down every single brick.  

The Harvard Business Review recently published an article about how Zipcar doesn’t ask its employees to innovate, it shows them how. It’s worth a read on its own, but the essential truth here is in how you can set very clear expectations. It’s your job as the shaper of this business to identify the culture that you want to build and the kind of goals you want to work toward.

Once those expectations are out in the world—once your employees can clearly read the behaviors that you want to see emulated every single day, they will take the initiative and tailor their working attitude and their feedback toward that ideal.

This practice by Zipcar is really the perfect schema for a business where everyone is working on common ground—where everyone knows what they need to do to improve the startup and also their own personal position. What more can a team member ask for than that kind of clarity?

Lay the path and they will follow. Don’t be afraid to let everyone in on the process. They will reward you for it and your startup will be one step closer toward resembling that perfect image you’ve always dreamed of.    

— ZK

Ed Lynes13p5Comment