If you are a founder of a startup who is new to leading this post is for you.
First off, congratulations on being a part of driving one of the most exciting economic booms we may ever see in our lifetime. No region in the world comes close to what we’re experiencing in the Bay Area. Need affordable office space or an all-star Engineer? Good luck!
There are hundreds, if not thousands of incredible companies being built right now. Startups are solving exciting problems, and tackling large challenges in an effort to make people’s lives better. Many of these passionate startups are being founded by young leadership teams. These founders are some of the most brilliant minds in the world building amazing products. It’s common to see many of them in a leadership role for the first time.
Pop Quiz! Why Do Employees Leave Companies (Even Startups)?
Answer: 88% leave for reasons not related to to money or stock. (source: Saratoga Institute)
I was thrown off by that number too.
So what makes up the 88% of why employees leave for greener pastures? Small percentages include things like lack of insurance or a long commute, but the biggest reason why employees leave is related to the relationship they have with his/her immediate manager.
We already know that startups get funded because they have a great team and an awesome product. Once funded, finding talent to execute the next phase of the product tends to prove tough. The situation is compounded if one of your rockstar Engineers leaves for another company. This is a scary, but very realistic outcome, as most mid-to-large sized companies now employ an army of recruiters to poach passive talent.
Determining Your Strengths And Weaknesses As A Leadership Team
There is a huge gap right now in teaching new startup founders the basics of leadership and management. To be clear, I’m not advocating adult supervision. It’s about providing good coaching and framework to create a great environment that challenges and motivates top staff. The ultimate goal is to ship amazing products. This can be done by simply having better leadership which will decrease turnover. Why give your employees a reason to take the 30+ overtures they are receiving each week from recruiters? Sometimes it just takes a bad day as a manager to have your key Engineer in a state of mind to respond back to that recruiter email.
Every new manager is going to make mistakes because they are figuring out their style. Just make sure that your startup is investing in building great management and leadership practices, especially if your C-Suite is in leadership roles for the first time.
What Should Founders Do To Take Action?
Can advisors help teach leadership skills? Perhaps, but I recommend selecting advisors who have a deep understanding of the product you are building, or can help with fundraising and key introductions. Founders aren’t always the best people managers, so it’s important to not neglect this missing gap. Making an investment of time and resources in leadership coaching and training for the founding team can pay off. As the team and business grows, so too must the leadership capabilities of those running the company. Get out of your comfort zone, find the right guidance, and push yourself beyond your own expectations!
Brian Samson, SPHR is Founder of HR for Startups, a San Francisco based HR and Recruiting firm that works with startups on issues related to talent acquisition of UX designers and engineers, leadership coaching, and HR compliance. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or https://hr-startups.com