In 2016, The Guardian posted an opinion piece on how working in a startup is like being a firefighter led by an arsonist. The article concentrated on the startup founders’ personality problems and the general mess that’s going on in the management. Successful management is and always will be a challenge for startups. Why? Just think about the context where the average growth rate for successful startups is 120% and more. For maintaining this growth, good management is essential but by no means an easy task.
Ganttic was first covered in Arctic Startup as a startup in 2011. As many other startups, we have grown exponentially and thus we are very familiar with the planning problems a startup can face. Funnily enough, we are a company that offers resource planning software that can solve a number of the resource management related issues for any company. We’d like to share four of the biggest resource management mistakes that we have learned on the way. The things that we have had to learn the hard way and the things we have learned from our clients.
1. Yes, it’s important for team members to know what others are doing
It can be surprising that even in a team of five, team members don’t know what others are doing. It seems silly but it’s the reality. Knowing what others are doing is necessary since this is how everybody can see the big picture. To solve the problem, we recommend weekly planning meetings where everyone can get up to date with what’s going on, how different tasks interconnect, and what’s the goal for the week. However, remember that this isn’t an invitation to start having meetings that easily be an email. Even the weekly planning meetings should have an agenda, an end time, and a result.
2. Don’t overload your resources
As a manager, it’s easy to lose yourself in all that’s going on and take on 60+ hour work weeks. However, overloading passionate employees will drain them. Expectations will not be met and you’ll create a situation where nobody is happy. Project milestones will not be reached and your team members will feel like they are not enough. Thus, it’s essential to keep the utilization of each employee on an optimal level. Not too much or too little. Make sure their tasks fit their skill sets and are challenging enough to motivate them. And try to keep in mind that multitasking is a myth.
3. Don’t keep secrets
The way we do business is becoming more open and connected. Tesla made their patents open source, Buffer made their salaries a public information in Zappos you have the Q&A sessions etc. Interestingly enough, trust is still an issue in the startup world. Our clients often ask us how to hide certain project details from their employees. Yes, it can be done. But why? Lack of trust deteriorates organization. Even with financial details, our experience shows that it’s good when people understand the value of the project, all the expenses, average cost per hour etc. The more your employees understand the underlying logic behind your business, the more they can work smarter and contribute to your success.
4. Employees need do understand what is the end goal
Being an inspiring speaker like Steve Jobs is not enough when your employees do not understand the vision of your company. They just don’t know where they are heading and being inspired isn’t enough when you don’t know where you are going. People need to understand the context. Otherwise focus gets lost. Thus, you mustn’t forget how indispensable communication is. Invest in it. Train yourself to be more open. Don’t just click forward on emails. Make sure your team really understands why you are doing what you are doing. That way they’ll understand their own tasks better as well.
Startup world can be demanding. That’s why you need to be demanding on yourself to make yourself a better leader. Good communication and resource planning are essential to making your company the 10% that doesn’t fail while 90% of startups do.
Ganttic is an online platform for resource planning, scheduling, and project portfolio management. Find more: http://www.ganttic.com/