Question: “My co-founder likes to be on top of everything and struggles to hand over the reins to anyone else. It’s damaging our relationship, and creating discord within our small team. Help!
Answer (Jesse): “Start-ups are a wild, exciting ride and process can be seen as slowing things down to a boring, corporate level. I actually think getting really clear on roles, setting good ways of working, and establishing process helps give more autonomy in a start-up rather than being restrictive.
At Jubel, we had no idea what we were doing on day one of starting a business so my co-founder and I did everything. If we could both go back to the start we’d definitely spend more time being clear on what was my responsibility versus his. When anything pops up you know exactly who needs to pick it up, rather than having “job creep” and starting to feel like you’re stepping on someone else’s toes.
A healthy dose of process can keep you accountable to each other. A weekly check-in on functional progress can be really helpful to cover “what do I want to achieve this week, what do we need to make a collective decision on, and what challenges have I got that I need your help with”. A bigger monthly catch-up is a good idea to review progress made over the past month against the key performance indicators you set, and looking forward to the next month to set out what you want to achieve.
Answer (Ramona): Fear of letting go is the most detrimental emotion. But letting go is the only way to grow and develop your business, make a profit and become more sustainable. A company grows because it retains its people; they are happy, self-motivated and want to be part of a viable and profitable business.
Like Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of one the most successful football clubs, Manchester United, get your employees to work in a team. One person cannot score goals on their own - it’s the input and support from your team that is your good fortune.
They have to feel they belong and are respected by the brand, but also have the freedom to help you grow your business, creating a win-win situation. Business owners, you can either keep your people in the dark and fail, or work with them and win.
Question: “My tech business is growing rapidly but the gender split is quite uneven with only a few women on board. I don’t have a huge recruitment budget, but how can I attract more women?"
Answer (Hanna): First off, it’s good you’re thinking about this early! This is mission-critical for your organisation, and the best news is that the sooner you lay solid foundations the better. You don’t need a huge recruitment budget either. To start, you’ll need to reflect on your internal culture because there is a reason you have the current demographics you do.
Ask the tough questions. For example, is drinking a central part of how your team has “fun” together? Which groups might be excluded by this? Are sexist and racist comments masked by calling them banter? Do your senior leaders have the language and tools to emphasise why inclusion must be prioritised? Do you make excuses for why your building isn’t accessible, even when this means excluding disabled people from working with you? What do such excuses say about who you prioritise?
Think about how you communicate your change process externally. If you’re really serious about this, can you be honest on your website about your failings to date and outline your plans to make progress? Those looking for jobs will then see that while it may be a homogenous place now, serious effort is underway to change this - and the people who want to be part of that may feel more trust to apply.
Don’t rush recruitment - if you do, you’ll end up reverting to what’s easy for you and only targeting existing networks. Instead, take the time to build relationships rooted in integrity with the many companies building a community of under-represented folks in tech. Show up at their events, meet with the talented people there and listen. The real answer to your question then is really to enter a mindset of humility, challenge, commitment and action.
Answer (Ramona): Organisations should have a definite diversity policy. Most often, diversity is so that they can tick the boxes and be seen to have a diverse culture. Diversity is not about this – it is about equality and making sure that everyone in the organisation gets a chance to succeed.
Provide new starters with induction programmes, internal training, send them on external courses and provide coaching. This creates a culture of equality where everyone has the opportunity to succeed irrespective of their diversity. Business owners should also have a mentoring programme in place. Each employee should have a mentor who becomes their brand ambassadors within the organisation and gets their cause.
Do you have a workplace dilemma zapping your time and energy? A problem shared is a problem halved! Email us at HomeworkEditor@workspace.co.uk and let us help you find a fix.
For more work advice, check out the latest issue of Workspace's homeWORK magazine. You can also pick up a copy in the lobby area of any Workspace centre, so keep an eye out.