I often wonder why people would choose to stay and work at a startup when they have a choice; when I talk about “people” I talk about the keepers who you definitely know are good and could go and find something to do somewhere else and in virtually all cases, for more money. So then why would people choose to stay and voluntarily step up to the wall, take their honored position side by side with each of their associates, and day in, day out, pound their head against the wall?
I had to give this some thought. I had to relate back to my direct experiences not only in my personal career but those at Traklight as well. I needed to understand. What follows are my personal observations on how the keepers in a startup are the necessary life blood of your company. Hopefully, this reflection is also helpful in defining the culture of your startup as well.
Recently we had one of our regular monthly all-staff meetings in which all Trakers were either present in person or via video conference. The meeting started out with Traklight’s Culture Share, where someone can share a feel-good story about anything they want or provide a great Traklight work story. We always enjoy this. We progressed for about an hour and a half, filling everyone’s precious Saturday morning with work. To my astonishment, everyone seemed to be having fun as we addressed each topic on the agenda, discussing all kinds of work-related issues. During the meeting, I could not help but compare this meeting with one I attended this past week at my other career: it was like night and day! At Traklight, we were building something exciting – everyone knew it, everyone was part of it, everyone wanted to be there and you could tell by the energy and the fun. At my other meeting, it was “time to make the donuts.” The only difference I could think of was that everyone present at the Traklight meeting felt they were a team and part of a family with a common thread.
Most people wish to work for a great boss and if you do the research, you will find that many leave their job because of their boss, for one reason or another. I will not go into what makes a good leader but will say that leadership is the key at all levels. Leadership must be sincere and real, and the style must be on the money and differing for each and every situation.
Team members want to be led, but they do not want to be led by the hand. The sense of one’s ability to make a call within their bounds without fear that they will be undermined or overruled is critical. People will make mistakes and the processes of dealing with these mistakes are opportunities for learning experiences. Without the given ability to “make the call,” people cannot develop professionally and won’t develop the self-confidence to take that next step or make that next bold winning decision.
Thrill & Excitement
It is very exciting, one would even say terrifying at times, to be part of a startup. People take a risk simply by taking a role at a startup. So much changes on a regular basis that most everything is new and little is set in stone; but this allows you the chance to make your mark as the opportunities to add value are endless.
Being on the ground floor – taking that risk – forgoing something now for what could be when you win big… The ones with “traktion” do not happen all the time and when you see this opportunity to be part of a great team/family and be on the ground floor, the future seems very bright and endless.
Of course, these are merely a few of the major reasons for staying with a startup that come to mind. I welcome any commentary or additional reasons so please feel free to share back.