Organizations are made of humans

In the startup world, most are aware that to become a unicorn, on top of a great idea you need some (a lot of) luck.

Actually you also need talent. And I’m definitely not talking about the talent of founders/co-founders. Of course, theirs is required. But they’re nothing without a team.

Be carefull with your team. They might just be the next Facebook 20.

For sure, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. As an Entrepreneur, your job is to give space to the former, and help them reinforce the latter. “Entrepreneur” is here in the broad sense of any C-level/co-founder/manager position, in start-ups or larger organizations.

Some key advice:

Empower people

Once you give them a task, give them the authority and the means to complete it.

Micro-management is just going to be counter-productive: it eats up your time, where you should work on your own topics, and you’re killing all creativity and pro-activity potential from your team. Micromanagement is just like if you grew a third arm, but you’d still be able to handle only two at a time.

And here, we’re not just talking about a third arm: we’re talking about a human. They can be stronger/more skilled than you. And they have feelings, and may just as well decide to turn down on you, the day they’re fed up to be tools.

Don’t try to control their schedule. Focus on helping them prioritize vs business, and figuring out what issues you can solve for them, so they can be more efficient at what they do. And as I wrote two years ago during my series on Agile, worst case, you’ll figure out faster if they can’t support your business.

Don’t let the apple of discord grow

In a small company, you can afford event less to have people not able to work together, or to have founders with different agendas. Divide and rule simply doesn’t apply here, you really need unity. And things don’t settle on their own.

We’re all humans, and resentment is a human feeling we probably all have had/have/will have.

As you experience passion for what you do in a start-up, other strong feelings can raise. Confrontations happen very fast on diverging opinions. Sometimes, you can create order from chaos, and arguments are then a great thing. Sometimes, they’re just restraining your business. By not being able to reach a consensus, both parties will go on with their own frustration. Frustration which will turn into resentment, if such confrontations without consensus happen to often. And you end up in a vicious circle as people will simply stop believing in and listening to each other. Who’s wrong and who’s right doesn’t even matter anymore.

Don’t let that happen. There must be one vision, and everybody in the team needs to share it. Those who really don’t want to share it may go.

Nobody cares about free coffee

You’re a start-up company? Of course, you don’t have much money. Now what’s a few thousands raise/bonus? For your employee, that means a lot. That’s of course more money which they can use, for basic needs or leisure. More importantly, that’s recognition to your employee that they bring value to the company, and that you want them to keep working hard. Those few thousands you gave might just show an amazing ROI.

Of course, you can always give them free coffee, fruits, have a table football or organize Friday pizza lunches. It’s always nice for the team spirit. But that’s nothing on the long-term. As soon as the employee leaves the office, such “benefits” are as good as nothing.

Not a start-up company? Hum, do we even need to talk about this?

Passion comes at a price

In all, passion is the greatest human feeling you can count on when creating. But humans have a lot of other needs that you should never obfuscate, or their drawbacks will hit you even harder after a while.

Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care or your employees, they will take care of your clients.

– Richard Branson

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