Your employees are the most important asset of your startup. Following that line of thought, however, will let you forget that they are first, people; people that make up your business like cells that make up a body. What you invest in them is that which you invest in your business, and what they provide in return will be that which takes the form of your business returns. If productivity is the final outcome you’re looking for, as you should, then it’s time to water that plant diligently.
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Be clear in what you convey
If you are running a successful startup, it goes without saying that you have excellent communication skills. A constant reminder to use this skill with your employees will improve the work environment that you create for them. Be lucid about the goals you set or the task you need completed. When you leave no room for misunderstandings, you reduce the chance for mistakes and save a lot of time. Offering feedback by showing them how they could do things differently will ensure constant improvement. Asking for and accepting their feedback, on the other hand, will get them more involved in and connected with their work. Communication is a two-way street and probably the only one that benefits from a lot of traffic.
Value your people
Most times, ‘employer’ becomes synonymous with ‘dictator’ and ‘employee’ with ‘slave’. Since the value of a person’s work comes from the value assigned to them, treating your employees as significant contributors to the business rather than as your puppets empowers them and makes them more responsible. Respect their opinions and suggestions. By doing this, you give them an independence to set their own goals which they’ll be better motivated to achieve. Another way to value your employees and their work is to promise and deliver employee benefits. Performance bonus, health care and paid vacation time are all ways of appreciating their contribution. The old fashioned pat-on-the-back also goes a long way in communicating the same.
Don’t put a square peg in a round hole
Knowing your employees, their capabilities and their limitations will help you place them in their optimum space for productive work. Most work settings only allow for extrovert personalities to flourish because of a common misconception that only such qualities fuel productivity. What an extrovert offers in a social setting, an introvert does so in a more isolated setting; so make room for both. Forcing either one of these personalities into the skin of the other retards and stalls productivity.
Don’t hold them on a tight leash
Maintain a friendly and a semi-formal work environment. This means stressing on good work ethics without turning your office space into a boot camp. Inculcate a respect for deadlines, which is a healthy pressure on your employees, but at the same time treat them well. While stressful environments have proved to improve productivity, being out of a comfort zone forces people to expand their limits – there is a threshold beyond which fear sets in and productivity suffers a slow and painful death. Knowing your employees, therefore, helps design a better work setting. Maintaining flexible work schedules and allowing them to work from home further reduces restrictions and gives more room for productivity, letting your employees work in their optimum space and time.
Give them materials to build
Make sure your employees have access to all the resources they need because better resources mean better output. Good infrastructure, relevant technology and utilities are some of the basic resources without which work cannot progress. Moreover, not having the means to reach set goals can be discouraging and can lead to a loss of interest. On a subtler level, when you make obvious the degree of your investment, you communicate to your employees the seriousness of your business – a seriousness that they can transfer into their work.
Let them breathe
Recognise their need for breaks. Being on their toes every day of the week can take a toll on your employees’ mental health. Taking a step away from work once in a while can open up new perspectives, something that your startup could benefit from. Let them take their well-deserved vacations. Organise social outings or events where they could unwind. Social outings also work to improve team relations. When they know each other better, they can help each other better.
Pay attention to your employees by measuring their activity and productivity. Working with them towards improvement, makes your startup a tightly knit network that can endure any changes in an unpredictable market.