In 2019, anxiety is still part of being a startup. But it doesn’t have to be.
Capital efficiency is the name of the game, as access to financing rounds is narrowing. Investors are more nervous about bets that may not pay off for some time. They are focused on the business that works today – provided it has the potential to make real money.
To develop that potential, startups need talented team members who are in it for the long haul and aren’t just in it for the money alone. Every good entrepreneur knows the best startup employees prioritize stock over salary; they believe in owning a part of the vision.
But creating a sense of ownership goes beyond stocks. Leaders get the team’s purpose, balance, and interface right.
An overlooked element in building a team that will stick around is recruiting those who inherently believe in a company’s why. Simon Sinek famously introduces this concept in his book Start With Why. He shares the oft-repeated story of two people building with stone. Both are doing essentially the same type of work. It’s strenuous, hard, and tiring. One does it to get the paycheck; he’s building a wall. The other is excited about what he’s doing and loves it. He’s building a cathedral.
That leaves us with an important question: How do leaders communicate effectively to their teams to show them that they are building their own cathedrals? For one thing, a vision can’t be an excuse to squeeze longer hours from our employees.
Erin Griffith of The New York Times attracted well-earned attention recently for how the mantra of hustling is leading nowhere good. We glamorize working long hours and feel we must love our work. But if people are going to love their work, it has to be worth loving. In addition to having an authentic message, it’s essential to have balance.
Today’s teams have so much technology for connecting; it leads to a mindset of always working all the time everywhere. In their book The Power Of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz point out long hours at one thing is a recipe for mediocrity. To become great at something, you need to also be great at not doing work. Work like a passionate maniac during business hours, and then transition to family, to spirituality, to fitness, to passions that take your whole focus.
The hustle culture is missing that. So while a team can and should be able to connect easily at any time and anywhere, team members need to be able to turn off and feel off when they are. Teams need time off, without their phone, laptop, or collaboration software.
That means that when teams do connect, things should be efficient, reliable and simple.
My own team is focused on a problem many organizations face: A big opportunity presents itself, but the enterprise conferencing and digital meeting capabilities required to pounce aren’t there – blocking the first stone of the cathedral from being put in place.
This opportunity might come in the form of a critical discussion that can’t be done in person — but has to be of high quality. Anyone who’s had a moment like this go sideways understands the value of a system that is easy, fast and affordable. And the right tools have an impact beyond that crucial moment. They enable leaders to communicate their “why” to employees without forcing them to be plugged in 24-7 – creating both a sense of purpose and balance.
That’s why our team developed Spoka Meet. We’re delivering a scalable solution aimed at meeting the changing needs of fast-paced small businesses, startups and elite teams to help them drive change and results. Our hope is to help them interface better and more efficiently, both internally and with their customers. It’s how we see our role in assisting other organizations to understand and clearly communicate their why.
That’s the best way to ensure the building of a cathedral instead of just walls.
Mario Jobbe is managing director of Spoka, a cloud communication tool for small businesses and teams. He was chief brand officer of Next Story Group, a company that designs, manages, and markets hotels.