When they write the book on the history of 2020 what will it be called?
As I write this there are still two months left in the year and it’s hard to imagine things getting worse. But hey, why not?
Meanwhile, if you run a startup it’s your job to figure out how to get on with life and with business. A few months ago we may have thought the new normal would be life AFTER coronavirus, but as we brace for a second and third wave of infections this winter THIS is beginning to feel like the new normal. No one has a playbook for navigating the challenges we will face in 2021, but there are already some clear lessons for early stage businesses.
One of them is figuring out how to be comfortable navigating the unknown. Here are three things company leaders can do now to make sure they’re positioned not just for survival, but success.
As much as people will tell you remote working is the future, I don’t believe this is what employees want. Sure, there are people who will be happy working remotely forever. But when Twitter and Shopify declare they’re going all-remote, I’m sceptical.
We humans are social animals and work is a communal experience. That’s particularly true for young people. They join companies to launch their careers and their lives. They build their communities and social networks through work. They often meet their life partners. None of that is possible right now.
When a startup is competing against Amazon and Google to hire smart employees, there are two things small companies can offer that big companies can’t: the opportunity to really make a difference each week, and the opportunity to join a cohesive, happy community of co-workers. It’s amazing how powerful those two things are when you are recruiting top talent.
My company, Trint, has been growing fast since the pandemic began: fifty percent of our employees have joined us since we went remote in March. Our People team keeps track of company culture through a detailed eNPS survey each quarter. We noticed something unusual in our most recent survey. New starters gave us excellent scores, but the cohort that joined us in the six months before the pandemic saw a big drop in job satisfaction. When we dug a little deeper, we found that a major cause was the lack of contact with their teammates. In a remote world there’s no company kitchen, no water cooler and there are no team events. It’s hard to build truly close connections and close friendships.
We’ve put a lot of effort into creatively nurturing and sustaining company culture. Here’s what went well:
Internal communication has always been important, but in 2021 it’s going to be business critical. Not only does it help companies run better, it also helps to sustain positive culture. Companies need to find the balance between not bothering people and imposing too many meetings, between under-communicating and sending too many messages. It’s a really one hard to navigate and both extremes are equally perilous.
Here are some of the things that have worked for us:
You need to figure out what software will help you do the job. There are thousands of technologies offering magic solutions. Once you find the ones that do what you need them to do, you need to figure out if they work with the rest of your tech stack. It’s great if a piece of software solves a specific problem, but does it easily integrate with the rest of the technologies that you’ve already adopted?
This is a really simple solution that I’ve seen work really well:
2020 was a learning curve. The world is still learning. Whatever cliché you throw at it – the new normal, unprecedented times – 2021 is going to be really challenging. But there are a few things we know will be important to creating success in 2021. That’s why business leaders need to take action right now. What are you doing to prepare?
Originally published here.
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