When you’re a team leader, it’s not always easy to get your team motivated. Contrary to popular belief, startup employees can get tired and burned out. After all, it’s not always easy to work in a fast-paced environment. While workaholics may love more work, don’t expect to motivate burned out workers with more work.
When you can sense your team is burned out, how do you create a fun and collaborative environment? How do you create a positive work culture? How do you get people to love their 40-hour job?
Here are four ways successful startups motivate their employees:
1. Team Bonding Sessions
Just imagine if your team doesn’t know each other. Some members might keep their ideas to themselves. Or worse, they might negatively interpret feedback and criticism from other members. As a team leader, your goal is to create an environment where every member can effectively communicate their ideas and suggestions. A good way to do that is to create avenues where your team members can get to know each other.
When it comes to being a part of a great team, Dropbox employees are definitely living the life. Employees don’t just enjoy meals, video games and gaming tournaments, they also have Whiskey Fridays! In short, employees don’t just play for free, they also drink for free. With tons of opportunities for team bonding, it’s no wonder that Dropbox is one of the best startups to work for.
Of course, your startup can’t always afford to have team bonding sessions. However, the point is that you should set aside time for your team to play and have fun.
“In union there is strength.” – Aesop
2. Pitch and Demo Sessions
It’s great when startups give their employees the freedom to pitch and execute their own ideas. After all, there’s a huge difference between assigning tasks and actually doing them. Sometimes your employees have ideas that could make their tasks easier. Other times, they are frustrated and lazy because they’re tired of the authoritative work culture. However, you can easily solve these issues and learn their ideas with a fun and competitive pitch + demo event.
CB Insights, a New York startup that’s famous for their tech market intelligence platform, makes use of pitch + demo events to increase their team’s motivation and involvement. Participants are divided into teams and given three days off to think about their pitch and to recruit professionals for their suggested executions.
What’s even more amazing is that each team is composed of individuals from different departments. Not only does it force employees to consider how their ideas will play out in different departments, but it also makes them feel that their ideas matter.
3. Responsibility and Freedom
What makes companies a total turn-off, is the traditional hierarchy and strict rules that plague an employee’s’ daily life. Sometimes workers have to focus more on impressing their boss than doing their job. In a startup, it’s completely different. The focus is building the product and making an impact. Your team can expect to learn something new every week. There’s also lesser hierarchy, so pitches have a better chance of becoming reality. And there’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing your team’s ideas turn into action.
When it comes to responsibility and impact, SpaceX definitely tops the list. Employees work for more than 80 hours a week. It’s not surprising given that they have to accomplish a long list since they’re building rockets that can be launched into space. However, despite the hectic culture, employees are motivated to keep going. After all, nothing can beat the company’s mission of transporting the human civilization to Mars.
Don’t worry if your startup’s mission is not as unconventional. Just focus on giving your employees different tasks or asking them the tasks that they would like to do. For instance, your marketer is pitching a video idea that he believes would be a hit. If you approve of the pitch, then be sure to give him the creative freedom to finish the task.
“The more responsibility the Scoutmaster gives his patrol leaders, the more they will respond.” – Robert Baden Powell
4. Rewards and Recognition
It’s true that recognition can boost your team’s motivation. After all, positive feedback can go a long way. Just imagine if you worked for 24 hours on your design pitch, but in the end you don’t feel like you got the praise that you deserve. Just to clarify. Praise is not about inflating your team member’s ego, but recognizing good work once you see it. Simple statements like “Good work!” and “Great Pitch!” backed up by a good evaluation and suggestions shows that you appreciate your team’s work and you respect their ideas.
In Uber, a rewards system is one of the ways they boost employee morale. The ride-share app gives a $1000 American Express gift card and public recognition to drivers who have the highest rating or number of trips. With a rewards system like that, the best drivers can definitely feel that their hard work is appreciated.
The startup life is pretty hectic. There’s a lot of events and tasks that could happen in a span of a week. Are your employees motivated? Or are they burned out? Hopefully, these tips can help you motivate your team.