Startups have a plethora of benefits, ranging from flexibility to early investment opportunities. However, one occasional downside can be inexperience with employee-related situations, like personnel disputes, harassment reports and breaches of contract. Ideally a business wants honest and abiding employees, but as a startup grows and employs more people, so grows the risk of difficult employee situations.
Long hours and tight budgets, both typical of a startup, can also contribute to somewhat disgruntled employees that may step beyond their boundaries. For dealing with issues like these, there are a variety tips to consider:
Few bosses have a problem with declaring what needs to be done and when it needs to be delivered by, but inefficiency often occurs when employees have no clue who’s supposed to do what. While some employees may be great at delegating responsibility, it’s up to a leader in particular to do so. Conflict can arise when two employees do the same task but claim efforts as their own. Situations like this, however, can be avoided with thorough task delegation.
Task delegation is especially important at startups, where employees typically wear more than one hat. The lack of highly specialized departments makes task delegation even more vital, as employees accustomed to a variety of tasks may mistakenly overlap with others in a similar scenario, resulting in inefficient work and potential inter-employee disruption.
Fairly Flexible Decision-Making
Bosses have the final say, but to avoid sapping the morale out of employees, it doesn’t hurt to provide some leeway in final decisions. A good rule of thumb is to seriously consider a proposal if it’s 80-90% of your initial request, as it shows that the proposer is listening to your requests and keeping them in mind. This is referred to as the 80:20 rule.
For a boss who never budges, employees will simply ask themselves “why am I here?” and are likelier to be unhappy in the workplace. However, not being overly rigid in decision-making will make employees feel like they have more of a purpose on the job, which helps push toward a non-toxic work atmosphere.
Precise Time Management
All employees should of course be aware of how many hours they are expected to work, though a great leader goes above and beyond that by also recognizing and catering to different work schedules and preferences. Startups often have employees who are capable of telecommuting or working odd hours, so it’s best to speak with all employees to determine their preferred work times for a specific project. Additionally, the process of creating teams for certain projects can be more efficient since you can match people based on their work hours.
Teams with members who work different shifts or hours have the potential for haphazard results, so creating groups based on time availability and schedules will create less opportunities for friction.
Especially if a work conflict veers into legal territory, then it’s well worth considering professional help. Even if the price is sore for a startup especially, expert consultation can save an entire business in the long-term if the threat is real. Employment discrimination and litigation attorneys are well aware of state laws wherever your business is located, and they are capable of tackling disputes ranging from wage-and-hour claims to discrimination claims. Deal with things in-house if possible, but if not, there’s no fault in seeking help.
Meetings With Q&A and Task Clarification
A business plan and set of goals are one thing, but actually fulfilling those goals is another. It’s vital that meetings not only revolve around reaching a certain goal, but also specifically around how you can work as a team to accomplish it. At the start of a project, these types of meetings are great for task delegation and Q&A, which is highly recommended to clarify any confusion whatsoever — allow questions until there are none remaining.
These meetings are also a great way to identify potential issues in the process, whether it’s due to a work approach or personality conflict. Some employees prefer to approach these issues in private, while others feel safer around other co-workers who may be able to corroborate their story. Bosses should provide an outlet for both of these preferences, so there’s less likelihood of an employee holding their emotions in and becoming disgruntled as a result.
Various priorities should also be emphasized for each project individually. One suggestion is to color-code various tasks based on priority, with red being urgent, yellow being medium priority and green being low priority. Task management software can aid with this, or you can simply use Google Drive as a collaborative tool and create a spreadsheet with running tasks.
These tips can help a business become more transparent and clearer in dealing with employees, which can be hugely effective methods of curbing difficult startup situations and better handling them if they do occur.