Tag Archives: team

The main assets we have and operate

Hello everybody,

I was rarely posting during the last week. As you don`t want to hear about my daily routine. And as I had no time for anything else except work and football.. I wasn`t posting here. How ever the content returns! And it is related not only with startups, but with other business and daily life too. So:

As any project manager I always like to list for myself assets I currently have to achieve one or another task. The flow I was working on before was quite simple:

  1. Identify people and their availability (hours)
  2. Identify the budget
  3. Identify how you can use your stakeholders
  4. Identify and prioritize tasks (in a time constraint)

Simply I used to think what do I have to dedicate for a specific project and how much time is available.

Currently I have a bit changed mindset. I do not forget all those things above. How ever the main asset for me is trust/credibility. The idea is simple:

In a decision making process (to do something or not to do) I identify how much credibility “points” the action/project might earn or loose. Sometimes it is better not to make a risky action if you have a credible name. If you have no name – why to be afraid of risking? How ever do not take actions of which you will regret in the future. Eg. If you plan to invite few sluts to your opening party for media attention and you plan to become a biggest child crowd-sourced charity organization in future… Well you are fucked up right from this party. Or a marketing genius.

I do not take trust or credibility for granted. You can not expect that people will trust you for nothing. Or plan that they will be extremely suspicious about your actions (while actually they will love you). I try to get along with the stakeholders and find out what do they think about my project, organization and people (most important!).

Reinvest of trust is an action where the person/organization gets a second chance. If you do not valuate your trust – you keep reinvesting to the same burning “asset person/organization”. And you are/might be loosing again and again. I tend to give a second chance of a relative small amount. It means that the responsibility and potential affect to result is so small that fixing a second failure will not cost much for me. It is a second shot (a trust and nice action), but it is not as critical as returning a full trust (and responsibility) to somebody for a second time. Hope that he will not fail is really dangerous while you have a nice person (which is great. But I want to have a trustful professional!) in your team.

trust-politiciansI like (who doesn`t?) to find out as much as I can about my partners. And there I draw a line between their credibility and trust. A person can look trustful, how ever if I have doubts the credibility part is a decision making factor. It is a catastrophe (for me) trying to find out how much do I trust the person and to make a logical decision. How ever when it comes to credibility you have something to check, evaluate and rely on.

And don`t ever dream about the great results if there is no trust in your team. On a few harsh moments I lost faith in some team members. And in the end either I was wrong/overreacting or the person did not meet the team needs (was a nice person, but nothing more^^). In one case or another either affect was small or trust and credibility management was not implemented to decrease the risks.

So yeah, IMHO it is better to understand sooner then later that your startup business has a limited amount of trust and only by growing its credibility you can manage your activities best and attract other measurable resources “cheap”.

P.S. Sorry for the long post. It could be even longer!

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Working with Employed Team Members – CoFounders

Always have a time for beer with your team members!:)

As I wrote (or not) before, I have a great team for the JobRely. As for CraftsWorld I have a great cofounder and we are a team of two. In both cases my colleagues are also employees for some other companies and their main income is generated not from our activities (yet). As of this situation a lot of issues were/are raising. And these issues can kill the best idea you are working on if you are not careful with your team.

The main problem you are facing is dedication or priorities. Next thing that disturbs you is the availability of your team members (or some would call them resources) .  You want to have some rest or time for yourself at the evenings. And finally you start thinking – I dedicate more time so I deserve more. And if I would have a full time dedicated team – I would rule the world.

These thoughts were pooping popping up in my minds too. Sometimes I believed them, took them serious. And I was wrong. The problem lies in a team management, not where people work.

If a person works for a full time job and gets salary there – his main priority will be to stay safe, to earn a living, to pay the rent. The more professional team member you get, the less chances you have that he will quite his job to join your startup (till you are not able to pay a base salary). Who would risk on his family life? I wouldn`t. The bright side is that his experience lets him to do his work 2-3, sometimes 4 times faster then for an amateur. And he will do it professionally on his first attempt. Do you see? Your responsibility is to set the right priorities for him. And have realistic expectations.

Please note that you need team members more then they need you. And vice versa. This leads to a symbiosis where you steal some time of his working day, he steals some time of your evening rest. You and your team must agree on this. In my case we combine it as following: meetings in the evenings on Mondays, Skype calls on Thursdays, lunches on concrete topic during the week. Meetings on concrete topics after 4PM. And one weekend day per month with those who doesn`t have family.

When it comes to the time dedication I have one saying – “the value is not created by the time spent”. Myself I was accusing my cofounder of not dedicating the needed amount of time. We had some fights, bad emotions. After the time has passed I must agree that I was wrong. I didn`t set clear priorities what must be done first. Also I didn`t have a time buffer for not urgent but needed tasks. This leads to the fact that no matter how much time your team can dedicate it is up to you to set the right direction so actions would bring results.

To summarize: set the right goals, realistic expectations. Adapt the management style to your team reality. Constantly look what works, what doesn`t. If you need additional resources – find them. There are a lot of people willing to help you for free:).

The hope that “we will work it out” might become real for once, twice, but at the end it will not work. So don`t kill it because at the end of day you will be the one to be blamed. Not your team.

Tips? Well in each case they are different, how ever:

  • Set the same meeting day for each week. Set the time so you would have some space to make it longer (f.e. start from 6PM, not 8).
  • Have virtual talks more often. Pick up your phone and call more often too.
  • Get beer with your team not once or twice per year (tho do not make it a habit).
  • Use some task planning and progress measurement tools. Don`t use too sophisticated ones.
  • Be more human friendly. How ever keep the rules. One missed deadline is ok. One each one day for a week – you need to have a serious talk.
  • Don`t write long status updates. Use bullet points in your mailings. Even separate emails according to he need of people.
  • Use some kind of messenger that lets the participants to ignore the chat (Skype f.e.)
  • In this case micro management is not an option (IRT to last commenter. I read your comments^^). Overmicromanage and you will loose a member. Also your productivity will not be directed towards growth.

P.S. Some people said that I write too long. Isn`t this post too short?:))

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Tuesday: Importance for the team being open

Hi there,

Well today I have nothing to write about the undone tasks. How ever I can dedicate more time and write my fresh and a bit drunk (we didn`t drink much during our team meeting) thoughts related with the team. As you may understand from the name, I am writing about the openness in the team.

Quite often when I am speaking with my friends I hear them in different words  saying, that they would like to say something to their bosses. Something specific and bad. How ever they don`t say it. Or say before quiting the job. In one hand it helps to decrease the tension among the team members. For a while, in another hand it delays the problem. And the further you delay the problem – the bigger it gets.

So for the startup it is a crucial need for cofounders to be open. To be able to tell if someone doesn`t have enough money for the needed marketing actions to take. To tell that he is not able during the next month to dedicate even one full day for the startup. To tell that the current plan sucks and that it needs to be reviewed.. You name it.

And if you are not comfortable with being open with your cofounders – you are with the wrong people. If people are not comfortable with you – you are doing something wrong. You are not close with them enough. And you will fail.

Why failure is so close? Well if the core team is not speaking to each other openly, the team is reacting to the treats slow. Slow reaction means that the other team will do better. And will overgrow over hypothetical startup.

How to overcome yourself and start being open? Dedicate a month or two for getting to know your cofounders if you have built a new team. Afterwards if you are not comfortable with being open – change team members. If you think it is you – try thinking in a way that “if I am not open, my team will not know about my weaknesses and will not be able to know how to back up me. No back up – I am the weakest part and I should leave. If I don`t want to leave – I must change.

I know how do you feel – I went through it myself back in some years. How ever I became open to my team. I am not sharing my passwords, but I am sharing:

  •  what matters to me,
  • why I am doing what I am doing,
  • what I dislike,
  • what I am working for.

And believe me, this works not only in startups, but in any business you do with a team.


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Day two Evening – Importance of a Professional Team (I)

Good evening, dear readers.

One more “public day” went I am sitting in front of two blue screens. In one I can see my reflection, another shows basketball (I am fan of football, but this madness have sucked me in). Because I`ve heard some complaints that it is more interesting to read my minds then my daily performance I`m changing the “template” of my posts.

The topic I wanted to touch is the team formation and how it might look. At the early stage you have no other resources then your and your colleagues time. How ever selecting right cofounders is a huge challenge. I`ll start with different kinds of team start and will elaborate more tomorrow on this topic.

Continue reading

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