Tips For Startup Founders: Keeping Your Team’s Morale & Productivity High During Difficult Times

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Going through a difficult time as a startup is not really unexpected, the current situation, however, is most likely not something you anticipated. Here's how to keep your team's productivity up during these difficult times!

Without any doubt, the situation we now find ourselves in is anything but ordinary.

The level of unprecedented global uncertainty, varying degrees of panic and fear, and a general drop in morale, optimism, and productivity are hitting businesses all over the world.

As a startup, you’ve most likely already been ready for a certain level of stress – after all, that’s just the startup life. But add to that the drama that has engulfed us this year, and you may find that the processes and routines you’ve had in place are no longer enough.

Let’s explore what you, as a founder, can do to help your team’s morale and productivity during challenging times:

Accept That It Can’t Be Business As Usual

We see many businesses approaching the situation from the wrong standpoint. As traffic, conversions, sales, and budgets are dropping, they expect their employees to somehow, magically, restore these numbers back to what they used to be back when all was well.

Instead of struggling to return to normal, make a conscious choice and effort to accept that this is not normal and that you can’t expect anyone to behave and deliver as they normally would.

For instance, you may be facing the new-found challenge of working remotely, which may not be something you’ve ever attempted before. There are plenty of apps that can help you through this: starting with Slack, which is great for team communication and collaboration, to Zoom for your video calls, if you don’t want to stick to Skype. You will also need to find a calendar app that will help you keep track of everyone’s obligations, now that you’re no longer able to brief them in person.

Whatever tools and regimes you choose to adopt in the new scenario, make sure you give everyone plenty of time to adapt and adjust.

Find Ways To Work Around The Difficulties

If you normally operate offline but are now faced with the challenge of having to move all of your operations to the world of digital, or you have to shut down completely, try to think of outside-the-box ideas to keep you going.

For example, if you don’t have an online shop set up, you can turn to Amazon for the time being. There are all kinds of useful tools that will help you manage this transition more easily. Don’t expect things to work smoothly and off the bat – after all, you’re most likely extensively deviating from your original business plan.

If you usually run a delivery service but are now unable to utilize it, try to repurpose it. David Fallarme of Hubspot has suggested some very interesting ways to redirect the resources you do have at your disposal, in order to help another company or individual stay afloat during these times.

Just because you can’t do what you usually do (which might cause your staff a lot of worry and anxiety), doesn’t mean you can’t do something else. Get them interested in your new way of operating, and help them understand how you can all give back and lend a helping hand.

Time For Self-Care

Being stuck in the house is just one of the many challenges we’re facing at the moment. But, we don’t have to be facing a global pandemic to feel the stress and anxiety that comes with our business going through a tough time.

Whenever that happens, your team will naturally be going through some personal challenges: their sleep might suffer, they might up their caffeine intake, they might exercise less and turn to sugar as a source of fuel. And while all of these solutions work in the short term, they are very bad for their overall productivity and overall health in the long run.

Try to reinforce a new self-care routine in your startup. While you can’t actually get anyone to do what’s best for them, you can try to teach them the benefits of a good night’s sleep and how to achieve it, or set up a recipe swap where you all talk about the healthy food you’re making, or even have a counselor available for them to talk to if they feel the need.

Remember that how you treat your team in a time of distress speaks more loudly about who you are as a startup than what you do when everything is plain sailing. Strive to do the humane, rather than the profitable.

Final Thoughts

Going through a difficult time as a startup is not really unexpected, although the scale of it may vary. Try to stick to these basic pieces of advice when the hard times do roll around (as they tend to), and focus on getting to the light at the end of the tunnel, as opposed to focusing on how bad you have it at the moment.



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