When you think of a startup company, you immediately think of passion. You envision a founder who may be penniless but who is consumed by a passion to follow his or her dreams. The entrepreneur enthusiastically communicates her vision and creates the energy to sustain it. Others jump on the bandwagon and work tirelessly to help the dream become a reality. A company in the infant stages has a naturally high energy level with an engaged workforce who believe in the vision. But as the company matures and becomes more established, that early sense of passion can decrease as the grind of just staying ahead becomes the focus.
How do you continue to energize employees and maintain a startup mentality?
Clarify the purpose – Passion without purpose is wasted energy. A startup organization has a clear sense of purpose imbedded with passion. Make sure that as the company matures, the mission and purpose still serves as the guiding light. Communicate successes, failures, and where the organization is headed as well as how employees can contribute to the plan.
Lead with passion – Passion must start from the top for it to flow to all employees. Who wants to work for someone who is just going through the motions? Leaders need to provide a purpose and instill a sense of passion in their team.
Weed out toxic employees – Do you have a whiner on your team, someone who relentlessly complains but is not willing to be part of a solution? One toxic employee can compromise a culture of passion. Identify these people and replace them.
Create Collaborative Space – Innovative ideas are bred from diverse groups working together towards a common mission. If possible, your work space should reflect this intentional collaboration. If you can’t physically have your marketing department next to your operations team, then create events or virtual spaces to encourage collaborative thinking.
Celebrate Accomplishments – Employees need to feel that their contributions make a difference. Take the time to recognize and celebrate exemplary service and innovation. Passionate people have strong work ethics and aren’t afraid to burn the midnight oil for a purpose they believe in. Celebrate hard work and reward employees for the sacrifices they make.
No matter where your company is on the life cycle of a business, you can still foster the energy that is typically associated with a startup. If you stick to your mission, clearly communicate the objectives, hire engaged individuals, and encourage innovative collaboration, then you will be able to harness the power of the startup and take your business to the next level.
Lee Yarborough and her father, Braxton Cutchin, founded the company in 1996. She has served on the Board of Directors of NAPEO and currently serves as the Chair for the NAPEO Carolinas Leadership Council. In 2015, she was named a Fellow of the eleventh class of the Liberty Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Lee also serves on the Executive Board of Public Education Partners and is the founder and director of Read Up Greenville, a young adult and middle grades book festival in downtown Greenville, SC.