One of the top 3 reasons why startups fail is forming the wrong team. But even if you succeed in getting good people to work for you, things could still go amiss. All you have to do, is creating the wrong mindset for your team and you’re in for failure. So, here’s how to get it right and prevent that.
In it ‘for the money’
Why do we allow the majority of people on the planet to do work that is monotonous, meaningless and soul-deadening? According to psychologist Barry Schwarz they’re in it for the pay and technology is to blame. The technology of ideas, that is.
In his TedTalk “The way we think about work is broken” Schwarz explains how human nature is formed after the ideas we have on how people should behave. He points out that “human nature is much more created than it is discovered”. And he’s right. Think about it: our behavior is influenced in a major way by how society thinks we should act and the values held true by that society. Same thing applies to work: how you behave at the office (even the home office) is determined by the values of the company you work for.
Creating an ‘always on’ mindset
One of the great things about startups is that anything seems possible. The company is still small, rules are flexible. Everybody is motivated, enjoying working on something new and exciting. Contrary to what Schwarz describes people working at startups are usually not in it for the money, what we do is intrinsically rewarding.
And, as we explained in our first blogpost ever, that might pose a problem. What seems to be the ideal productive organization might also be the ideal environment for people to burnout. Think about it: if everybody in your company is putting in the extra mile then no one will have the courage to go home early. And if the standard is that you eat lunch at your desk (preferably while having a Zoom-meeting or doing something else ‘productive’) then no one will have the guts to go out for a walk. The few people who have a different mindset and actually get up from their desks, are risking being stared down by their colleagues.
… and turning it off
Thankfully Schwarz is offering a way out when he finishes his TED Talks with this: “(…) you people should be asking yourself a question, as you go back home to run your organizations. Just what kind of human nature do you want to help design?”
The question is one that you might not consider to be of great importance yet, as your startup might perhaps be still small. But no matter the size of your company, this creating the right mindset for your team should be constantly on your mind. If you truly want your team to be productive, if you want to keep them enthusiastic, motivated, focused, if you want them to create something truly valuable, you better create a mindset and work environment that helps them to do so.
A new kind of human nature
In the words of Barry Schwarz this means you will create the kind of human nature that balances work and play or rest. The kind of mindset that makes people take breaks because they know it will keep them focused and perform better. Where they consider staying at the office untill 10 PM every day is a bad practice and they encourage their colleagues to go home early.
Well, actually, that last thing might not be true. If you really want to stimulate a good work/life balance, working hours shouldn’t be too rigid. So, as a lot of people probably found out during the corona lockdown, sometimes getting back to work at 8 PM might just be a great idea. As long as you make sure there’s enough time to recharge.
Lead by example
As we pointed out, it doesn’t matter how big or small your organization is. Even if you’re the only employee in your startup, you should still put this to practice. Because it applies to everyone, including you.
And if your startup is growing, make sure you do everything you can to cultivate a healthy work environment. The best way to lead is by example.
Make a habit out of optimizing your work and life routines, one little step at a time, whether your company has 100 employees or just 1. It will help you solve problems a lot faster, while staying healthy and staying able to help others others as well. Let that become the human nature for you and the people around you.