Leadership and corporate culture for startups
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Most startups are stuck in a dilemma. Qualified, motivated employees are key to success. But the workflows in startups are typically unstructured and without planning certainty. On top of that, overtime is more the norm than the exception. Let’s face it: that kind of work environment doesn’t sound very appealing.

So how can young companies stay ahead in the race for the best employees?

One of the biggest challenges for any startup on the job market is competing with large corporations. Rather than work for an unknown company whose future is uncertain, many employees will prefer to pimp their resume with a big brand name.

In spite of this, startups have a wide variety of advantages they can emphasise when advertising job offers. Low hierarchies offer the potential for quick advancement within the company as well as direct communication with internal decision makers.

A more all-rounder role in the company within a small team will also give the employee more personal responsibility and flexibility, while opening up numerous opportunities for empowerment.

For that reason, it’s highly recommended for startups to openly address any possible prejudices a candidate may have about the startup environment during the job interview, so as to show how little they apply in reality.

How to attract the best employees?

It’s not unusual for a startup to pick the wrong person, especially when it comes to influential positions. The reasons for that vary. Sometimes startups run an employment ad without having defined the precise field of the job. During phases of internal restructuring this can happen quite often.

Most tech companies founders have neither experience nor interest in operational decisions and micromanagement processes. They prefer to work on their business model and acquire funding for the company.

That’s why it’s fundamental to build a team that is well matched in terms of skills and character. This means not only making the right choices but also the ability to devolve responsibilities and decision-making. Passing on your baby into someone else’s hands is never easy – but it’s necessary if you want the company to succeed.

Confidence and corporate culture

A lack of trust will sap your employees’ motivation and sense of involvement within the company. Most startups have to deal with so-called ‘pivots’ in strategy from time to time. In such situations, any members of staff that don’t identify with the company will be a spanner in the works of change management process.

A lack of confidence will also result in higher amount of micro management to check up on the work of your employees.

Small teams in particular benefit from ritualised group events like team breakfasts or sports activities. It’s not just positive for the working climate but it’s also a chance to speak informally with your employees.

This way small problems and conflicts can be identified and solved immediately. In the words of Henry Kissinger: “An issue ignored, is a crisis invented.”

Corporate culture is more than an interesting-sounding concept – it’s the basis of a successful startup. It’s extremely important for founders to define a company’s code of values and a vision of the corporate identity.

Early-stage companies are most at risk of losing sight of their mission. But the sooner a code of values is implemented, the less processes that have to be managed top down.

A bit of confidence and involvement with the company is all it takes to turn your employees into entrepreneurs that will help you succeed.

Feature image: Conceptual 3D render image with depth of field blur effect. Compass needle pointing the word talent, concept for recruiting or head hunter. via Shutterstock / copyright: Olivier Le Moal

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