Teamwork Tips for Startup Success Business Owners Should Follow

Teamwork Tips for Startup Success Business Owners Should Follow
Teamwork Tips for Startup Success Business Owners Should Follow

Trying to build a startup from the ground up is always an adventure with unpredictable outcomes and no guarantees of success. There is an infinite variety of ways a startup can fail or succeed, and a definitive recipe for success is yet to be written.

However, if we were to look for one common denominator to virtually any startup success story, one thing we would encounter time and time again would be a strong team spirit and a high degree of teamwork.

Why teamwork matters for startup success?

Of course, it is true that teamwork plays an important role in the success of any professional organization. However, the importance of teamwork is particularly emphasized in a startup setting.

Most startups begin their journey as relatively small teams starting from scratch and competing with established entities that have already seized their own shares of the market. This position, almost by default, creates a strong underdog, “us against the world” mentality that can be a potent unifying factor among team members. A shared sense of purpose and a common goal motivate team members to produce for the team and go above and beyond in order to achieve the shared objectives. A tangible and vibrant team identity is what fuels the dedication to the excellence of their product and services which often grace successful startups. Ultimately, it is the team spirit that carries teams through the hard times and helps them overcome their challenges.

While we may instinctively believe that teamwork develops spontaneously and organically, simply by bringing people together and letting them interact, that is often not the case. In fact, it is the startup leadership (both formal and informal) that sets the tone for the team identity.

How to nurture teamwork?

The ultimate identity of the team will greatly be determined by the combination of individuals that make up the unit. Therefore, you will most likely wish to tweak your approach to fostering teamwork to suit the personalities of the team members. However, there is a number of tried and tested and universally applicable best practices that build a strong team spirit and form a strong collegiate bond between colleagues. We will dedicate the following lines we will focus on some of the key principles and practical actions startup founders and team leaders can utilize to create a solid foundation for a teamwork-driven environment.

1. Be the change you wish to see

At every startup – particularly those in their initial, formative stage – team members will look to leadership for cues on how to act. This includes everything from operational procedures to the overall vision and all the way to the general attitudes towards others and the work itself. Whether directly or indirectly, leaders and other influential team members set an example for everyone else. It is highly relevant to actively demonstrate the behavior and attitudes you wish to see in others to stand behind the values and the vision on which the startup is built.

In the context of teamwork, it means being a good player – treating others with respect and honesty, communicating openly, and allowing for other voices to be heard.

2. Allocate work clearly and fairly

Teamwork can only work if everyone understands what they are supposed to do. A clear and well-structured division of roles and responsibilities should be one of the managerial priorities from the start. While startups are largely defined by innovation and improvisation, they also need a high degree of procedural and operational clarity in order for work to get done. Balancing between these two opposites is a delicate art, but it has to start with a clear definition of individual roles. Remember – ambiguity is the enemy of productivity.

Additionally, leaders need to pay mind to a fair and even distribution of duties. Teamwork works best when team members feel that everyone is contributing to the achievement of the common goal, and having team members with noticeably different workloads can only lead to friction.

3. Be transparent and encourage open communication

Startups are not bound by the constraints of traditional organizational hierarchy – which is great news for teamwork. Leaders should use this greater degree of informality to their advantage by avoiding some of the downsides of organizational hierarchy such as information tiers and one-way communication only going from top-down.

Be open and transparent in sharing all relevant information about the company’s plans and activities, and encourage two-way communication. By including team members in planning and decision-making processes you make them feel valued and respected, as well as more invested in the outcomes of the joined work. Employees who are engaged in company activities will also possess a higher degree of motivation to contribute to the success of the team.

In practical terms, it also means providing the team with all the necessary communication tools that enable different channels of communication while also encouraging transparency and inclusiveness. While collaboration tools/solutions like Slack and Microsoft Teams are ubiquitous, you can also find free alternatives like Pumble that will cover the team’s needs without eating away at the budget.

4. Be quick to resolve conflict

Good teams are not distinguished by avoiding conflict, but by how they respond to it. Differences in opinion and clashes of personality are unavoidable in any collective environment. Rather than letting things simmer or pushing them under the carpet, it is important to resolve them in a timely, respectful, and constructive manner. While many disagreements can be resolved in a direct and spontaneous fashion, it is important to install clear procedures for conflict resolution in case the tensions escalate.

5. Celebrate the team and its achievements

If you have a good thing going – value it! Whether we are talking about individual contributions, team efforts and achievements, or the bonds built from shared experiences, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the things that matter.

We all wish to feel valuable and valued, particularly if we are deeply invested in our work. Recognition can come in many shapes and forms, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be a financial reward (although it is rarely unwelcome). The key here is to be invested enough into the team’s activities in order to be able to identify any significant individual and collective contributions. This degree of investment will also enable you to know your team well enough to figure out the best way to recognize and reward the efforts.

Finally, the strongest motivators for teamwork come from the bonds formed between team members. These bonds will grow from day-to-day interactions, but you can further encourage it by devising team-building events and allowing team members to interact outside of the immediate professional context. In other words, it’s never a bad idea to party!

To conclude, team spirit and team identity are greatly influenced by the actions and attitudes of leaders and influencers. If we wish to foster a strong and vibrant spirit of teamwork, it must start by embedding those values into all aspects of the operations and demonstrating them through concrete actions.

Image Courtesy- Pixabay

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