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Inspiring the Start-up team

A start-up’s success is mostly directly linked to the combined performance of its team. Hiring a good team is important, but how they collaborate and deliver is also crucial.

Managing the team

No entrepreneur should be managing the team. Management is an over-rated term that does not work in the start-up culture. Actually management does not even belong to the today’s corporate world either. No managers like to manage, no employees like to be managed. The carrots and sticks (incentives and punishments) are completely outdated in today’s professional environments. The team should work together in a flat structure with roles of each individual defined to some extent, and leaving room for everybody to step up along the way and take additional responsibilities. The best way is to engage the whole team in most discussions at product / business / problem solving level so they are more aware of high level picture, as well as their own specific tasks. It helps generate constructive debates and leads to more efficient solutions. It can help motivate the team members as they become more integral part of the team. The team should be certainly responsible, skilled and smart to be able to deliver the results.

Leading the team

The entrepreneur should lead by example, accept all challenges and work hard to nurture creativity in the team. Besides having a vision and good attention to detail, the entrepreneur should focus on inspiring the team to help achieving the desired goals.

– Financial incentives alone do not suffice. In fact, beyond a certain point, financial incentives can play a negative role in the team’s productivity. Financial services industry is a classic example of how more pay has led to poor judgement of its employees time and time again, including the classic Financial Services led Credit Crisis in the last decade (

– The other incentives like equity in the company can be a better motivator. The entrepreneur should demonstrate how every team member’s performance has a major impact on the growth of the start-up and hence the team member’s share value.This sense of owing the organization and having a meaningful impact on the company performance is quite a good motivational tool.

– Every team member should be given significant authority in the job. Authority generally creates more responsible leading to autonomous and productive engagement.

– Some time off work for fun team-building events, constructive off-work debates and tasks can be a good creativity enhancement tool. For example we have a regular ideas discussion meeting where everyone in the team can come up with a new idea (not related to our core business) and everyone else helps constructively debate and build upon the idea. It helps the team members in the presentation skills, group debates, as well as fosters innovative thinking.

– Transparency can also be a good motivator. If you keep more decisions and processes transparent, team members are likely to be more hooked in.

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