Keeping your team on the same page through quick growth is the most important thing you can do for your business.
Building a startup is inherently challenging and constantly changing. I have found that the two most significant challenges are creating a vision that everyone buys into, and aligning the team to work in sync to achieve that vision — especially as the team grows. When the light at the end of the tunnel begins to blur or appears out of reach, my company immediately begins to suffer. The question I’m posing is: How can you keep your team on the same page?
Share the Vision
In working with your team, it is critical to make the bigger picture crystal clear: What is your company’s mission and what is the plan to get the company there? Once you have clearly delineated those critical things, you are then able to focus on how each division will work, and what each is contributing to the end result. Pley sees it as critical that everyone is aware of what the other teams are producing and how all the work being done is connected. Reiterate that you are a team made up of individuals, not individuals trying to make up a team!
Hold Quarterly “Town Hall” Meetings
Every quarter, my company has a town-hall-style meeting. The purpose of these meetings is to keep everyone in sync and be fully transparent regarding our progress. It is an open mic policy and there are no secrets during these meetings. I open the discussion for anyone to ask the most daring questions: How much money do we have in the bank? How much have we made this quarter? Why do we make certain decisions that were made?
It is not often that this opportunity is available for employees, so they are always eager to ask questions concerning the company’s direction, get any explanations for why we are not doing certain things, branding in a certain way, etc. These meetings create trust, further buy-in and undoubtedly provide the team with the feeling that they are an integral part of something sustainable and that there are plans A, B and sometimes C for the challenges we are facing.
Have Weekly “Go Team!” Sessions
Every Monday, we start with what we call a PleyStorm meeting. It boosts team morale and gets everyone on the same track for the week’s objectives. In addition, it helps clear up budding issues and mental blockers. It’s a way to start every week on a high note. I use this time to lift our team’s spirits and help them understand the priorities for the coming week. I also talk about last week’s successes and acknowledge the past week’s failures (or points of learning). This is an “all hands on deck” approach.
Allow each department to discuss what they’re currently doing and the goals they achieved over the previous week. This is a great time for team problem solving. People from other departments – who normally would not be a part of the process of another department – have fresh eyes and are usually able to provide valuable suggestions that the other team had not considered. These meetings also provide great opportunities to clear up any miscommunications between departments and streamline priorities.
Use HipChat, Slack, or Something Like It
A company chat platform, especially in a startup, helps for a multitude of reasons. For starters, you are always able to be in communication with each other, regardless of the circumstances. Don’t want to yell across the room? Perfect! Jump on the chat platform and ask the question directly. A huge perk is that you can have a variety of different types of chats all going at the same time. You may have a company-wide chat going, a department chat, and various individual chats all going simultaneously, all solving problems and moving the company forward.
Include Everyone in New Product and Feature Testing
We envisioned it, we built it, now let’s make it work. Everyone in the company should feel pride and a real sense of ownership with our product. If a new feature is launching, for example, have the team sit in a room together and test every pixel relating to the new feature — on every browser and using various devices (phones, tablets, etc.). By bringing different people from different disciplines, you get fresh eyes and see the product and features from multiple angles. Make sure the atmosphere is fun and open (pizza and beers works just fine) so everyone feels comfortable enough to raise issues.
Ultimately, you all own the product together, so get everyone involved. Because at the end of the day, you are not just building a product; you are building the team that builds the product. Be sure to invest valuable time in both.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image credit: CC by Christian Bourdeau