Product Management Intern
People drive companies forward.
The best founders are on the side of their employees. They understand, from day one, that starting a high growth company is not a single player game. To hit scale, sooner or later, you will have to find ways to build a strong workplace culture where your employees are actually excited to go to work.
How you manage your employees directly affects their levels of productivity. Your leadership style — what you do, what you say, how you say it — can dramatically change the behavior of your team (for better OR worse).
There are no “perfect” workplace cultures, but there are some things you can do to ensure your employees are happy, productive, and honest with you.
The best managers recognize that they are imperfect leaders. There is always room to improve. This nuanced self awareness is extremely valuable; it demonstrates to your team that you are human, you are vulnerable, and you trust them.
Have a problem? A question? A random thought? Just ask your team for feedback.
“I have a recurring bi-weekly one-on-one with every person on my team. This is an important fixture not only for them to get feedback, but also for me. This open dialogue is crucial.” — Peter Zaborszky, Founder of BestVPN
Being a great manager is about relationships, not transactions. You cannot just pass down orders and expect everything to be done effectively — especially if your employees do not trust your word.
A great way to earn buy in among your team is to show them that you would never ask them to do anything you yourself would not do. Go out of your comfort zone, and dive into the weeds.
“All of our managers have some experience doing entry level work. They know the ins and outs of the system, and have been in the weeds grinding.” — Johnny Carpet, Spokesman from Dallas Flooring Warehouse
Your employees will perform more effectively when they feel ownership in whatever they are doing.
“No one likes to feel like a tiny cog in a gigantic machine. Everyone just wants to feel important.” — Daniel Jung, Professor of Law at Abraham Lincoln University
Rather than assign out tasks from a checklist, allow your team to rank which projects they are interested in working on. This gives you insight into understanding exactly how your employees function — not everyone wants to be a team lead. Some people actually work much more effectively behind the scenes. Understanding these small nuances about the people who work for you can make you a much more effective and likable leader.
On the same token of “everyone wants to feel important” is the idea that you should give credit where credit is due. Show your employees you truly care about them by recognizing excellent work.
“We used to highlight our top performing employee in a company-wide email every month. This was a great way to show our appreciation for above and beyond work.” — Dr. Jason Young Jang, Herbalist at Traditionally Extracted Herbs
Be careful that you are not over-recognizing certain people because you could inadvertently create political divides within the company. Also, be careful you are not saturating the workplace with celebration. You should definitely recognize great work — but doing it too often will take away the “special” feel.
9 hours a day. 5 days a week. Work makes up a ton of our, and our employees’, lives. Many of us spend more time at work then we do anywhere else!
“We realized that our team performed much more effectively when they were actually having fun at work. So we started doing random things — like having game nights or team outings — just to make work more fun. The results were really good.” — Ryan Hulland, President at Netfloor USA
You want to find a strong balance between “serious” and “fun” to build your culture around.
Happy employees = productive employees.
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