The DOs & DON'Ts that Every Startup Work Culture Must Include

Date:   Friday , June 03, 2016

Headquartered in Singapore, JunoTele is a mobile payments platform that specializes in monetizing links through Mobile Browsers or Apps, Billing over WiFi, Standard carrier billing over data and many other payment related services

The distinguishing factor between one of the best startups as against another, is the working culture. Culture put down in the simplest of words is the feeling, the vibe, or the confidence that one experiences as he/she walks into the organization. How much your employees are cared for? How happy they are at work? Do they take pride in inviting a new person to their workplace? These simple questions help us understand whether our team is smiling to be at work and satisfied with what they deliver.

During my Wipro days, Mr. Azim Premji always use to say that a company\'s real assets are its employees. And I haven\'t forgotten that. I try to implement the same feeling in all my teams. I often try to practice 5 Point strategy - CCARV in an organization. Let me elaborate;

Comfort : Make your team comfortable; they should love coming to office. Let them design their work place, they should take ownership for it. Encourage them to put their family pictures, famous sayings, getting their own cushions for chairs or anything similar. Try and eliminate the cabin culture, there shouldn\'t be any differentiation basis on ranks. You can have conference rooms which can be used by anyone in case they want to talk or do some confidential work.

Concern : Show them genuine concern. Small things make a difference; like provide cab facilities for employees going post 8:00 PM. Ensure they receive a call from office once they have reached home. Ensure team managers drink one cup of coffee with every team member individually at least once a month. With little things like options for food and beverages at work, gaming or recreational room with simple board games like Caram board, Chess, or Monoply, I personally used to play chess with my team members whenever possible. Encourage them to build an Office Employee library where any employee can bring any book (Tech, Management, General or anything else).

Appreciation & Recognition : Every individual likes to be appreciated and awarded. Try and keep awards in every quarterly town hall. Apart from that, programs like cross functional team recognition makes a lot of impact. Like a sales team member can send a \'Feather in the Cap\' award to a colleague from tech team who helped deliver the product to his client. AR strategies also create a sense of healthy internal competitive spirit which is required for a start-up.

Vision : In startups, employees are generally worried about how the organization is doing in terms of market share, financial strength, roadmap ahead and other major aspects. Share whatever information one can with employees in terms of how was previous quarter, what are plans for future, and what is the competition doing. Show them clear vision on where is the organization headed. Don\'t shy in sharing faults & learnings. They will feel more respectful of you and will be motivated and charged up.

During employee assessment discussions, show them their career path; where are they as an individual headed; are they on right track. While one highlights mistakes and areas of improvements in an individual; also showcase them good things that they delivered.

Not to say that every team member isn\'t different and sometimes needs to be managed differently. But the very fact that one needs that special attention or that different bit of counseling is what a senior can explore only if he/she is able to break the ice. Culture here, is undoubtedly such a channel that opens doors to new ideas and achievements. Making work more fun doesn\'t really call for too many hassles.

Some of the leading and well-ranked start-ups today follow certain very interesting policies that allow one to relieve that work pressure and actually aim towards job satisfaction and focus on the role that they are hired to fulfill. Having flexible work options like work from home or freedom to report to work on different timings, wearing what one likes, going out for trips, movies or casual evenings as a team, are some such ways that make organizations cooler and more attractive for both existing and prospective employees. These little efforts and thinking out of the box with the aim for employee engagement and a happy culture are the need of the hour. Most entrepreneurs who fail to make such efforts due to lack of time or hectic schedules are more likely to have concerns like hiring, retention and quick exits. In fact interviewing new candidates and retaining them becomes so much easier if you have a culture in place that would help you decide the fitment of a new team member.

Policies and cultures are hence, as vital to employees as they are to start-ups. Of course, a culture too liberal with no balance for the discipline and fair practices can also pose a huge challenge. What we need is to communicate to our team members that the idea is for them to take ownership and responsibility for their work, where behaving like sensible adults is truly indispensible. It is only then that they can enjoy a work atmosphere that allows them to grow and prosper with no burdens or stress.