How to Preserve a Startup Culture as a Company Grows

How to Preserve a Startup Culture as a Company Grows

Start up success is as much about managing the people as it is about creating the product. Tips for managing start up teams :

Be Aware of Culture in Early Stage Start ups

The culture of early stage start ups forms the backbone of the culture the company will have in later years. Therefore, paying attention early on to the type of culture you want to create is critical.

One aspect of start up culture is the emphasis the founders put on equality. While egalitarian cultures can motivate workers and encourage a free flow of ideas, they are often hard to maintain when companies scale and managers have to make hard decisions that go against the grain of the egalitarian ethos.

The first time someone has to be fired, the culture of equality may be shattered.

In order to preserve this culture as they grow, start ups must find ways early on to balance the need to motivate workers and give them a voice with competing organizational needs for structure and hierarchy.

Keep It Professional

Resolving conflicts at start ups can be more difficult than at other types of companies, because founding members are often friends. Conflicts may be more personal and intense. Likewise, it may be difficult to keep communication and interpersonal dynamics focused solely on work-related matters. Start up teams designate a time and place in the office where people can talk through work issues in a professional frame of mind, “consciously choosing to set aside personal bonds.”

Stay Humble

Founders who maintain a humble management style and share credit for successes will empower others. “If you ask for voice and opinions, show that you actually do something with it. A founder who blindly pursues his vision without feedback from others can lead the company into disaster.

Ice Cream Helps

Leaders who actively value team contributions tend to make themselves easily accessible to their subordinates.

Avoid Overlapping Skill Sets

Entrepreneurs often form companies with friends or classmates with whom they share interests, skills and personality traits. But ignoring the need for true complementarity “is the number one mistake start ups make, at least in the early phases. Maintaining a high-performing start up is possible only when teams have complementary skill sets without much overlap. If everyone is, say, a finance expert, who will run operations?

Provide Clarity

Ideally, each member of the team brings his or her own unique and needed contribution to the success of the enterprise, but managers also need to provide guidance to teams. To avoid unnecessary confusion and competition, leaders should clearly delineate who is responsible for which tasks.

Ask Outsiders for Help

Company founders who surround themselves with a team of experts will help ensure there is a culture of respect for employees. Doing so sheds light on how companies such as Apple and Google have succeeded despite more autocratic-leaning founders. “Those people were counterbalanced by very strong peers at the management team level that complemented their personalities and helped them lead more effectively.”

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