After launching a new startup, you’ll be interested in growing the business as quickly as possible, thus generating more revenue, securing more stability, and improving your reputation as well. But one of the secrets to effective scaling is an efficient team; if your employees are working productively and consistently, they’ll be capable of making your vision a reality. But if they struggle to get their work done, for one reason or another, you might fall into a place of stagnation.
So what is it that makes employees productive in a new startup? And how can you improve these conditions?
Every business has potential productivity woes, but startups have some special issues unique to them, including:
When starting a business, you’re usually working with a limited budget. You don’t have much revenue being generated (if any at all), and you may have a strict or finite source of capital to fund the hiring of new employees.
This makes it difficult to find experienced, talented people, restricts the number of people you can hire, and makes the loss of an employee all the more devastating.
There’s also a lot of uncertainty within a startup. You may have a descriptive, thorough business plan to serve as the blueprint for the present and future of your organization – but there’s no guarantee it’s going to pan out the way you think.
To survive, startups must flexibly accommodate new changes and circumstances, and that means putting employees in a difficult position.
You can devise a streamlined, efficient workflow from scratch – but there’s no guarantee the “practice” is going to match the “theory.” For example, you might have an efficient workflow in which one employee is in charge of reporting, while another is responsible for updating that report and taking action.
But if the tech doesn’t work or the roles aren’t a good fit, even this simple process is going to fall apart quickly. You have no historical data and no direct experience to help you build more reliable workflows.
Oftentimes, startups require their employees to have malleable roles. Since you may not have the space or the budget to hire dozens of specialists, you’ll need generalists who can serve multiple roles and do the work of multiple positions simultaneously.
This makes it hard for any individual to achieve peak productivity, and can drag down your entire organization if you’re not careful.
Before we get any further, we should address a critical question – is productivity everything for a startup?
The short answer is no, but it is the gateway to getting everything else you want.
For example, you’ll need to think about company profitability. But with efficient employees, your costs decrease, customer loyalty increases, and your business model will have a much better chance of success.
You’ll need to think about employee retention. But many of the strategies that boost employee productivity will also boost retention by proxy. Almost everything in your business is connected to productivity in one way or another.
So what steps can you take to improve productivity in your organization?
Everything starts with the culture you create for your startup. Who you hire matters, and the dynamics of the environment you build will have a massive impact on individual performance.
You also need to make sure your employees have the right tools in place to help them do their jobs effectively. After all, you’d expect an employee with a spreadsheet to do better than one with an abacus.
Workflows, processes, and procedures have a drastic impact on productivity as well.
Finally, there’s personal motivation. What’s making your employees want to do their best work?
It’s almost impossible to be successful in boosting productivity unless you have some system of measurement and analysis in place.
It’s not enough to throw a few strategies into place and assume that your employees are working – you need data to verify your claims.
Pay attention to hours spent, tasks completed, and even subjective feedback from your employees. The more you learn about how your employees are working — the more confident you can be that your productivity strategies are working as intended.
You may learn that some of your tactics aren’t working — and you can abandon them before it’s too late. With this productivity approach and ongoing openness to experimentation — you’ll be in a much better position to make long-term improvements to your workforce’s productivity.
Originally appeared in ReadWrite