Entrepreneurship 101: How to manage teams better?

Entrepreneurship 101 is a series on the ‘human’ aspects of entrepreneurship. Through this series, YourStory will share ideas, suggestions, references, and examples to help you reflect and tread the entrepreneurial path smoothly.
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In 2013, a study pointed out that 60 percent of startups fail due to poorly constituted teams. We are in 2022 now and even though technological advancements have changed the world as it was, this fact still stands true — people are the backbone of every organisation.

Thus,  good teams can make or break a startup. 

In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced employees to work from home, companies faced challenges like never before. 

There was fear that lack of face-time would mean less collaboration, irregular communication, and unequal work distribution, all of which would ultimately lead to unhappy teams. The pandemic forced managers — who already were struggling with GenZ’s invasion of the workplace that is leading to a multitude of changes (positive and negative) — to think outside the box. 

Communication had to be seamless, collaboration had to work across functions, and more importantly, team members needed to stay engaged in the work, as well as themselves.

Sufficed to say, team management has undergone many changes. So, what are the best practices?

Entrepreneurship 101 decided to talk to startup founders about how they have been managing their teams better, with or without face-time. If you want to know how to hire the right talent, and retain your existing employees, click here, and here

Smart delegation

Firstly, founders should get rid of the idea of taking responsibility for every job that needs to be executed. “Give responsibility freely and hold people accountable for their results,” says Kabir Jeet Singh, CEO and Co-founder of Burger Singh

Secondly, founders should delegate work smartly. This means entrepreneurs must set clear and achievable goals for every individual team member, and delegate work according to their expertise and bandwidth. This will not only make employees more productive and efficient but also prevent them from being overburdened. Finally, to make employees feel more involved and accountable, entrepreneurs should involve all stakeholders in the strategic decision-making process.

Vaibhav Anant, Founder of Bambrew, says that entrepreneurs must make employees and their ideas feel important. However, he adds, “Tell them why you think it may or may not work.” 

“Finding the right person for the job is key to managing any business. Smart delegation should be followed up with continual training to ensure that people in key positions have the ability to execute their job,” agrees Harshil Salot, Co-founder of The Sleep Company.

Transparency 

In a startup environment, over-communication is always better than miscommunication. Communication should be open, clear, and professional at all times within teams. “It reduces chances of conflict and ensures the timely deployment of key messaging across the organisation,” says Harshil, adding that open communication allows employees to have a proper platform to air grievances and concerns as well. 

Additionally, transparent communication bridges the gap between founders and their employees, fostering personal and professional growth. It adds a sense of belonging for employees and helps founders to align all teams toward a common goal. Harshil says, “Clear and honest communication is vital to an organisation’s functioning. Erase hierarchical boundaries to ensure transparency and speed of communication and reduce any chances of miscommunication.”

Interestingly, employees who have managers with poor communication skills are 23 percent more likely to experience a decline in their mental health, suggests Harvard Business Review. 

Akanksha Hazari, Founder of LoveLocal, says, “We have a flat structure where there’s mutual respect for every project being worked on regardless of who’s working on it. I also always ensure that team members’ time is valued as much as their contributions.” 

Goal-oriented efforts

“Teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organisational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results,” said philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. 

Entrepreneurs should set tailored and achievable goals for every employee in the organisation. Especially in its early stages, or when building and rolling out a new product, startups should be more focused on accountability and quality. 

“I always make sure there are SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) created for all projects and I am always taking notes to make work seamless and effortless,” says Akanksha. She adds that the in-depth planning helps teams at LoveLocal figure out blind spots, and proactively identify problems and their solutions. 

At Burger Singh, Kabir follows a similar approach. With 86 employees in the head office and another 168 across COCO (company-owned-company-operated) outlets, the company believes in setting clear objectives that can be defined in numbers. Kabir has regular meetings with his teams to either follow up or revise defined objectives with respect to real-world feedback.

He adds, “Hire people smarter than yourself to fill any gaps in competence…Identify the competence in potential team members and align them with company goals.”

Rewards and recognition

Vaibhav says, “Startup founders can manage teams better by providing them space to experiment, fail and learn.” And at the same time, founders must “Reward creative endeavour, commitment, responsibility and hard work,” adds Kabir. 

Rewards and recognition motivate employees to perform better, providing them with a sense of ownership and accountability. At The Sleep Company, all employees are in the process of being granted ESOPs as a part of its commitment to include employees in their business growth journey.

To sum up, Harshil says, “A startup founder has the responsibility of setting the company vision and establishing the right team spirit and work ethic. Strong leadership is the key to ensuring these goals are achieved.”

A good founder should always be prioritising their team and motivating them to do better than the previous day. This will not only add value to the employee’s lifestyle but will also lead to building team loyalty and desired results. 

To read more articles from the Entrepreneurship 101 series, click here

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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