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Startups require a lot of hard work, with no rest for the weary. And since you need to be moving at light speed to gain first mover advantage, it often means a lot of late nights in close quarters alongside your fellow team members. Not everyone can thrive in that type of environment. But it is important the founding team can, as capital will be tight, and you will need to stretch your human resources as far as you can, without breaking the bank. In order to make sure you get the desired output from you team, you will need to personally control the various HR building blocks required for team success, to help you get there.
RECRUIT THE RIGHT PEOPLE
You want a hard working team? It all starts with recruiting the right people out of the gate. In addition to seeing if they have the right skills for the job, you have to see if they have the right attitude and hard work ethic for the job. And, don’t take their word on it, as everyone will say they have the “right stuff”. You have to talk to their former employers as references, and have them give you real examples of how they have functioned in that capacity in the past. One of the most important pieces to the hard working puzzle, starts before they are even hired.
FOSTER THE RIGHT TEAM CULTURE
Once you have the right people, now you need to surround them by the right types of hard-working peers. Create a culture of “all for one, and one for all”, prepared to do whatever is necessary to help the company win the race. Create realistic targets for them to hit by certain dates, and create a competitive spirit within the company, where people can show off their skills. Success in early stage startups requires having the right entrepreneurial DNA built within everyone in the organization.
REWARD DESIRED BEHAVIOR
When people are showing your desired hard-work ethic behavior, reward them. Give your key team members a piece of the equity. Give them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. Take them to a ball game. Create an employee of the month program. Do whatever you need to do to make sure they know their hard work did not go unnoticed, and was appreciated by the team. If you are not properly rewarding your team, they will quickly feel unappreciated and be looking for the door. Then you have an even bigger problem on your hands.
BE SENSITIVE—DON’T PUSH THEM OVER THE EDGE
All work and no fun, makes Jack a dull boy. Working around the clock can be exhausting. And you don’t want the team to burn out. After a big sprint, let the team take a day off to catch their breath, and spend time with their friends and family, away from the office. People are human, and you need to foster an even work-life balance, to retain your team for the long run. Another way you can achieve this goal is being flexible on where they work, not requiring them to come into the office if they can more easily do the same work from their home and save on commuting time.
DON’T TELL THEM, SHOW THEM
When you have something that needs to get done, it is important you show the team how to get it done, as opposed to simply telling them to do it. Don’t leave anything ambiguous, that will leave the team spinning their wheels in frustration, not clear on what you exactly need. When you show them what to do, that leaves nothing up for interpretation, and will more quickly get you to your desired end product. And, by you showing them what to do, it shows the team: (i) that you know what you are talking about, increasing your credibility; and (ii) that you are not afraid to roll up your own sleeves to get the job done.
HOOK THEM WITH YOUR DAILY BEHAVIOR
And it all starts with you. If your employees do not see you putting in the hard work you are asking of them, they will never give it to you. So, tell your spouse you may be late for dinner, and jump into the mosh pit with your team. That will help you gain credibility as a leader and camaraderie as one of their colleagues, prepared to jump into the trenches of battle. It is always best to lead by example, as it is more inspiring to follow one of your peers paddling equally hard in the white water raft, than to work for someone shouting through the megaphone on the shore.
So, as you can see, if you are complaining about not having a hard working team, you really only have one person to blame . . . yourself!!
George Deeb is an entrepreneurial CEO, growth expert at Red Rocket Ventures, and author of “101 Startup Lessons–An Entrepreneur’s Handbook”.
January 4, 2019 at 03:07PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs