They offered you to be part of a startup with a high chance of success. They promised you a good salary because your experience is key to making it grow. You were thrilled with the idea of working close to home, with flexible hours, and in a creative environment. They won you over with the company culture, which drives innovation and entrepreneurship. You trust the CEO. You think it is time to leap; you like your job, but you think a change is necessary. After reflecting, you accept the new job. You start with emotion, but you realize that nothing is as you imagined after a few days. You just work more (much more), your experience is not valued, and your boss is a micromanager. What would you do? Would you quit?
Disappointment is common when starting a job. On numerous occasions, expectations are not met, generating a lack of motivation. It could even cause depression. And what do you think? Startups are not exempt from this, and in their case, it is even worse since each hiring, leaving or demotivated employee has serious consequences. So how can you prevent this from happening on your team and ensure that they stay excited about the company? Here are some tips:
1. Don’t sell false expectations
To attract the best talent to your startup, especially if you are starting, you will have to persuade and fall in love with your company. However, you should avoid exaggerating or telling a lie to get him to accept the offer. While this tactic may help you achieve your immediate goal (having the person come to work with you), it will backfire later. As soon as you notice that nothing is as you painted it, you will feel cheated and disappointed.
2. Don’t constantly change your policies
It is very different from being a director in someone else’s company than in yours. When you are a manager of an outside company, you must follow the rules that someone else imposes; you must dictate them as an entrepreneur. Doing it and being consistent with it is an art that requires setting objectives and strategies. Sit down for a long time to think and analyze the pros and cons of each policy and its importance to the business. Once you define them, be firm with them and communicate them to potential employees before hiring them. They will define if they are willing to comply with them and if they fit their work ethic.
3. Be flexible and open to conversation
The majority of startup employees are millennials, young people who want to work in companies like Google, where they can learn, grow, develop, and have fun. Among the characteristics they are looking for are flexibility and the opportunity to express themselves. So if you are very rigid (the typical “here I am the boss”), you will probably not be successful as CEO of a startup. Companies like Netflix, Virgin, Google, and Spotify have found that the best way to motivate people and achieve extraordinary results is by letting them have a good personal life. Startups have transformed the way of working: the hours from 8 to 5, without breaks or vacations in the first year, are a thing of the past.
4. Don’t hide behind the phrase “it’s my company”
Yes, it is your company. But when defining ways of working, you must look for productivity and team satisfaction. Although there are certain things that you will have to define (and that must be according to your vision), you must have openness to change practices and improve. Remember that with such small teams, making everyone feel happy and efficient is a priority. Just because it’s your company doesn’t mean that others should work your way.
5. Listen to your team and find out how to motivate them
Each person has a different motivation. Some are driven by money, others by recognition, others by the ability to make decisions, others by challenges. Therefore, you must ensure an atmosphere of openness and trust; assure them that they can talk to you about any topic because you will listen to them. This will help you get to know your team better and understand what drives them to give their best.
6. Create an entrepreneurial culture with your collaboration
Its founders build a startup and/or CEO and its first employees. If you are sure that you have hired talented and passionate people, then shape the company’s culture according to the needs, interests, and capacities. Invite them to contribute ideas, improve processes and propose activities and strategies that improve the work environment. Little by little, they will create habits that will define them; Remember, this results from teamwork and collaboration.
7. Look for ways to make them grow… even if it’s a startup
Nothing disappoints talented and ambitious employees more than the certainty or belief that they will not grow up there. If the person feels that they have nowhere to grow, regardless of the quality of their work, they will abandon you. It’s not just about salaries or positions, but about opportunities for learning and personal development.
8. Avoid wearing them
Everyone knows that working in a startup requires a lot of work and effort for it to survive. Both you and the rest of your team will have to put on several hats and do “chambitas”. However, you should avoid overloading a person. If you need his support, stay late or work weekends, let him know the direct benefit and reward him.
9. Engage them with your vision
The best way to retain talent is by falling in love with the company. A person in love with a project will not want to abandon it, even if the money is bad or he has lost his free time. If you want committed people who do not want to abandon ship, you must infect them with your passion and business vision. Conquer them with opportunities, with work and with the work environment. This is a day-to-day job.
10. Challenge them
There is nothing more disappointing to a new hire than feeling that their job is unimportant, undervalued, or even easier and less challenging than their previous job. The feeling of “it seems as if instead of moving forward I stepped back” is the greatest killer of the illusion. If you don’t want this to happen (as it leads to demotivation and even mediocre work), try to challenge him: give him opportunities to surprise you and propose. This way, you will keep the emotion alive.