Culture will make or break your startup.
You can’t just create a company culture, but you can direct it in the way you develop leaders, review, and give feedback to every person in your organization. A structure of fair and frequent feedback will lead to a strong culture your employees love.
Here are three things you can do to build it:
1. Help Your People Develop as Leaders.
Helping employees become leaders will empower your startup to scale and allow you personally to focus on what matters most. One way to start is to have high-performing employees partner with a “buddy” for each of their major responsibilities.
The buddy system creates opportunities for employees to act as coaches and mentors and ensures support when employees go on vacation or in case anyone leaves. Over time, this also allows for faster promotions and growth because you don’t have to delay a promotion until after you find a replacement. It also helps employees develop as leaders because they have to teach and consult with their buddies about their responsibilities. When members of the team become leaders, others usually become more engaged and start to notice how they, too, can become leaders.
2. Make Your Reviews Fair and Timely to Increase Engagement.
Businesses are questioning the value of annual reviews. Accenture has shifted to a “more fluid system, in which employees receive timely feedback from their managers on an ongoing basis following assignments.” Rather than once-a-year evaluations, they hold more frequent reviews to keep engagement high.
McKinsey & Company also applies a recurring approach. In its whitepaper, the company writes that its meetings “take place frequently enough to catch issues before they become big problems, but not so frequently that participants have no new information to share.”
Above all, the process has to be fair because people measure themselves against others. Create a system that fits your organization, and make sure you communicate to all your employees what it is and how it works.
3. Make Your Feedback a Productivity Tool.
Feedback can help employees develop faster and increase productivity if the companies install structures that make quick, reactive evaluation part of their cultures.
Our venture, Lifion, which is a relatively flat organization with teams no bigger than 12 people, has found success in encouraging employees to give frequent feedback to one another rather than waiting for it to come from a manager. We also encourage skip-level feedback so team members can see how their performance is viewed from above them, from below them, and from their peers. These check-ins have minimized unwanted surprises and wasted time.
One of our emerging credos is, “No secrets. Make everything known, and celebrate it all.” We encourage everyone to ask for help if needed, but we stress that it’s important to do so promptly. Problems are inevitable. However, big failures and delays are avoidable with transparency and accountability. Those are the keys to our future and freedom to innovate. Openly sharing allows us to get everyone pitching in to solve problems and continue learning.
It has become more important than ever to stay ahead of the game in people management. The price of falling behind is exorbitant, so rethink the conventional methods of reviews, feedback, and engagement, and apply new solutions to the modern problems that demand them.