By: Jeff Lugerner
How to Stay Resilient When Working for a Start-Up
For many, working at a start-up is a dream come true because they have the chance to help build a company from the ground up while being part of something special. Many start-ups also offer a relaxed workplace and flexible hours, which employees see as positives. The Bay Area where Leadership Development Institute is located and Silicon Valley are some of the most popular areas for high tech startups.
At the same time, start-ups come with a lot of uncertainty and increased workloads, which can bring about stress.
Whether you’re an employee or a manager at a start-up, you’ll want to explore the following ways to stay resilient during the organization’s first few years.
What to Expect While Working for a Start-up
There are positives to working for a newer company, but there are also some drawbacks of which you’ll have to be aware. For starters, you can expect to have a heavier workload than usual because there is so much work to get done. In addition, since the company won’t have a bunch of managers overseeing your every move, you’ll be on your own for a lot of it. That type of work environment is a perk for many, but it also means that you’ll have to keep yourself motivated, often while working long hours.
Another thing to keep in mind is the lack of job security. About 90% of start-ups fail within their first three years. Therefore, the numbers aren’t on your side and you could find yourself without a job sooner, rather than later. The lack of security combined with a lower salary than you’d earn when working for a more established company can lead to anxiety for some, making it hard to keep a positive mindset.
How You Can Help Yourself
Of course, you should do everything in your power to stay resilient and keep yourself on track in your new work environment. Start by building and maintaining friendships and relationships by spending plenty of time with family and friends and developing friendships with your new work colleagues. Having relationships with other people who are in the same position allows you to lean on each other when times get tough.
Try to stay positive. While you’ll surely come across some issues when working with a start-up, treat these issues as a learning experience, rather than a significant problem. Even if you make a mistake, it provides you with a golden opportunity to learn from your actions, giving you a better idea of how to react the next time you encounter a similar situation.
Keeping a positive attitude will also help you to avoid turning small obstacles into a crisis. Maintaining the proper perspective and realizing that not every mistake is a life-changing issue will help you to keep an even keel. Your initial reaction to a dilemma can quickly blow the problem out of proportion, so try to stay calm.
Part of staying calm involves not getting too down on yourself when you make a mistake. Errors happen on every job, so try to focus on all of the things you’ve done right, rather than the one thing you’ve done wrong. Once again, it’s all a learning experience, and you’re sure to make fewer mistakes as time passes.
Take the time to manage your stress. You’re going to get tired, overworked, or run down if you don’t give yourself some space to recharge. Allow yourself regular breaks, and try to avoid staying late every evening. It’s always tempting to stick around the office to catch up on some work after everyone has gone home, but you’re likely to burn yourself out if you do this regularly. Also, if you take a holiday, be sure to leave work behind and enjoy your vacation. This time away allows you to recharge and come back with more energy and resiliency.
How the Company Can Help Employees
It shouldn’t be entirely up to employees of a start-up to manage their mental health, as high-ups within the organization should take an active role in the process. If you’re a manager, start by encouraging physical well-being within your workers. Provide healthy snacks, promote bike-to-work weeks, change the workplace culture regarding smoking and drinking, and create an altogether pleasant and psychologically healthy environment.
Managers can also implement an open management style that will breed trust from employees. Being completely transparent about the state of the company and its future can help workers avoid the anxiety that goes along with blindly plugging away at a start-up without knowing where it is heading.
Try varying the workloads of employees, so they don’t get overwhelmed. Seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel of work can provide peace of mind for workers, especially those who see the files continue to pile up on their desks without any break in sight. Training team members in different skills and allowing them to use these skills can also help because it enables them to break away from the monotony.
Finally, make sure you treat your employees fairly, provide them with the space to do their jobs, offer a flexible work environment, and reward them for their hard work, as these small things can encourage loyalty and make the company a better place to work.
If you’re struggling to implement a positive workplace culture that will provide resiliency at your start-up, the Leadership Development Institute can help. LDI’s executive coaching services can teach you how to reduce stress and anxiety in your employees while promoting an attractive office environment.