When start-ups embark on their journey to enter the business ecosystem, there are usually very few words to describe the gentle yet robust high permeating the workplace. More often than not, these high spirits are a result of an almost familial bond between employees and their leaders. Everyone seems to share a common sense of purpose, informed by the powerful values of trust, transparency and honesty. As a rule of thumb, however, the “honeymoon” does not outlast growth. As new businesses evolve, these strong bonds start to loosen; junior leaders need to be brought in to manage operations. Direct interactions become scarcer and with that, walls are erected; leaders are perceived more as part of “them” rather than “us”. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the bond strong even while growing:
1. Be accountable for failure.
It might seem self-defeating but acknowledging one’s mistakes and making the necessary amends –especially if that someone is a leader- is of vital importance if transparency and trust are the goal. Saying sorry and owning up to one’s shortcomings can also set the right tone and help build a strong culture.
2. Pass on duties.
Unless the leader is willing to have their people think they are not considered worthy of assuming additional responsibilities, they should learn the art of delegating tasks. It might be quite challenging at first as it can resemble relinquishing control, but the company will run much more smoothly when the right tasks are delegated to the right person.
3. Never overlook feedback.
Regardless of how hectic things get –and they most certainly will- leaders should never delay or altogether forgo offering feedback to their people. Should this happen –God forbid- employees will start developing feelings of uncertainty and disengagement. Therefore, a system should be set in place to remind even the most forgetful and busy of bosses to provide appropriate feedback.
4. Trust should be the focal point.
Nothing can widen the divide between employees and leaders like the lack of honesty and ongoing communication. Employees will feel lost if they do not interact with the boss and with each other, if their boss breaks their promises, if they do not lead by example. Most employees will jump at the chance to trust their leader, as long as their leader ensures that they can connect in honest and meaningful ways.