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An EMPLOYEE's advice to start-up employers

Last updated on: August 31, 2012 18:25 IST

An EMPLOYEE's advice to start-up employers

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Jubin Mehta, YourStory.in
For a growing start-up, it is important to provide freedom to one's employees and have the heart to understand their priorities objectively.

They say you should learn from everyone and keep your ears open.

I'm no founder and have no clue as to how to run a company, but I'll cross the line and pretend to be omniscient here. I'd like to believe that I've had a unique experience.

I've seen the corporate life, have worked for a start-up and have interacted with and written about more than 400 start-ups till date. I've been talking to founders, VCs and employees and one thing that is pretty clear is that culture and employee morale is of paramount importance for a growing start-up.

An aspect that is an advantage as well as a predicament for a start-up is that every member can be/is involved in decision making.

And a huge problem a founder faces and pulls his hair out about is understanding employee psychology. And here is where I think I can make a point (or more than just a point).

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

Courtesy: YourStory.in

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If you find a person, who likes what s/he does, s/he's the one

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Whenever you're making a decision about an employee, the 'sense of belonging' is very important from the employee's point of view.

This vibe which an employee gives out is palpable for a founder, you'd know if s/he belongs.

You'd know when an employee puts the company as first priority. The employee shouldn't feel that s/he is a 'part of' the company but that it is his/her company.

This might be difficult to gauge and some might even consider this to be impossible.

How can one expect an employee to feel this way? And here is where the 'freedom of working for a start-up' comes into picture.

I've talked to dozens of 'awesome start-up employees' and the one thing I find in common is that they're all doing whatever they want to do.

There are doctors writing codes, writers designing architectures, dropouts doing marketing! More and more, it's not the degree or background that is playing a role, it's the will. If you find a person, who likes what s/he does, s/he's the one.

There's a caveat here though: s/he's not doing this for the company. Primarily, s/he's doing what s/he wants to and the alignment is such that s/he puts the company before anything else. If that 'joy' is taken away, the regard for the company goes away.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh




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Frequent communication with your employees is important

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Another factor is the proximity.

It hardly matters where the person is.

Sitting thousands of kilometres away, an employee can be more loyal and productive as compared to one who is always there in front of your eyes.

For a founder, seeing the bigger picture, the takeaway would be not to fret upon frivolities. Some things just work out.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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Learn and let go

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After a lot of back and forth and some scale, there comes a point when this freedom for an employee isn't be possible.

One needs to learn and let go. As you grow, you need to be more subjective.

You cannot expect as much now as you'd expect from that early employee. Why?

Because she looks at it as a 'company' and there's very little you can do for him/her not to feel so. S/he's working for someone now.

This bifurcation is very important to understand and sometimes only very perspicacious founders are able to do this.

Some founders do it well, others don't. And then there are the very few where this bar doesn't exist at all, but till you achieve that, keep an eye open for those free flying souls.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier




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