Working for a startup often means putting in long hours, dealing with a hectic schedule, and facing an uncertain future. That’s why it takes a special kind of person to manage a startup team. You’ll need to lead with vision and integrity in order to inspire your team to work their hardest.
But it’s also important that you choose your startup team with care. You’ll need other capable senior people you can delegate to, and junior people who can wear many hats. You’ll need to be able to empower your employees to handle things on their own, and trust them to do so. You’ll need to build a workplace culture that breeds loyalty, collaboration, and high morale, but you’ll also need to be ready to step in and take the wheel when necessary.
Choose a Great Team
In order to successfully manage a startup team, you first need to choose the best people for that team. Before you even write your job postings, think about the goals you have for your team, the positions you’ll need to fill to reach those goals, and the skills those team members will need to have. When it comes time to interview candidates, don’t choose a subpar individual just because you’re growing weary of the interviewing process or you’ve reached the end of your list of candidates. Keep looking. A small business can’t afford to waste resources on uninspired employees. It’ll be worth it to hold out for the strong candidates your company needs.
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Make sure to fill senior positions first. You don’t want to end up spread too thin, trying to hover over every team member’s back, micromanaging their tasks while your own work goes unfinished. Choose good people for senior roles first; then you’ll have reliable people to delegate to, allowing you to focus on the work that only a leader can do.
One of the most important things you can do as a leader is hire great people, and then get out of their way. Hire resourceful, hardworking people with great problem-solving skills and then teach them to work independently. Don’t let them rely on a constant stream of instructions from management; instead, give them the framework they need to manage themselves much of the time. Give them the strategies they need to solve problems; set quarterly goals and implement action plans that help everyone work towards those goals.
You’ll have the best success as a leader if you can show your employees how to succeed. Entrepreneurs often lose sight of the fact that their employees are looking for specific guidance on what leadership wants from them. Your employees may be talented and smart, but it’s up to you to get the most out of them by telling them what you expect.
However, once you’ve been clear about your expectations, it’s time to step back and trust your team to deliver on those goals. That includes trusting them to make decisions. When you allow your people to take ownership of company decisions, they’ll feel more valued and they’ll be more likely to follow through.
Develop a Strong Workplace Culture
Keep the workplace culture you want to nurture in mind every day as you build your startup. Your vision for the company should remain foremost in mind, and your long-term goals should remain consistent. Don’t undermine your people with constantly-changing goals and parameters. Make sure you’re always cultivating a solid foundation of business knowledge and experience to draw from, whether that means enrolling in an online MBA, conferring regularly with mentors, or reading the latest books about business. When you’re consistent and straightforward in your vision and practice honesty, integrity, and loyalty, it will infuse every aspect of your organization’s culture.
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Be Ready to Take the Helm
While you should be willing to trust your people and ready to let them make their own decisions, you should also be ready to take the lead at any time – you are, after all, the leader. There will be times when your team is arguing over a decision or when they look to you to represent the company. Be ready to provide perspective, settle arguments, or make a final decision. Make it clear that you have the final say in any course the company takes.
Managing a startup team means navigating some tricky waters, indeed. Inspire trust and confidence in your team, and both your people and your company will thrive.