This article was translated from our English edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process. The opinions expressed by the collaborators of Entrepreneur they are personal.
One of the biggest advantages of working at a startup is the opportunity for all employees, from interns to senior executives, to access and understand the context behind what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Keeping this sense of purpose (what I like to call our “why”) front and center creates the kind of alignment that motivates people to do their best work and be their best selves. But how can this be achieved on a practical level?
At Lumanu, we are taking a unique approach to ensuring that all of our employees are informed about our priorities and decision-making. Every week our employees spend 15 minutes completing a check-in. On a scale of 1 to 5, they rate how they feel about their week, including their biggest accomplishments and challenges. Then each manager spends five minutes reviewing weekly feedback from their employees. In just 20 minutes, we can get an honest and accurate pulse on the mindset of each of our employees.
I participate in the same exercise and answer additional questions tailored to my perspective as a founder, including my feelings on everything from the creation of the company to product quality, growth, and brand value. But since I don’t have a manager to review my records, I proactively share my thoughts with the entire company, and employees can comment and respond. And unlike a traditional CEO newsletter, this approach gives my team an unfiltered view of my thoughts, just as they would receive if they were my manager.
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In just over a month, this approach has had a significant impact on our work and our culture. We use a wonderful platform called 15Five, but a simple email template with preset questions can achieve a similar result, providing a number of benefits.
Greater opportunities to collaborate and take action
Many employees may be intimidated by the idea of contacting a CEO directly to offer their opinions or ideas. By creating a welcoming environment and an easy way for employees to engage with you as a leader, you can better foster a sense of ownership and responsibility. Instead of waiting for employees to ask how they can help you solve a problem, this approach encourages them to proactively offer you their own thoughts and ideas or collaborate with others to find alternative solutions.
The idea that problem solving and direction must come from the top down is no longer applicable. Today’s leaders must flip the script and empower employees to take a more active role in meeting key challenges head-on. By making these collaboration opportunities an intrinsic part of your workplace culture, employees will feel more comfortable initiating contact with you to help grow your company.
Experienced founders know that making mistakes is a necessary part of accelerated growth. Instead of sweeping them under the proverbial rug, I believe in reporting my mistakes openly and honestly. Having a forum to own up to my mistakes allows me to show my vulnerability, which is an important part of being a transparent leader, and sends a signal to my team that I don’t expect perfection. I always say that 99.99% of mistakes won’t actually kill the company, so don’t be afraid to make them. Maintaining a high level of transparency as a leader fosters a culture where employees feel empowered to make decisions autonomously to drive the business forward.
It can be especially helpful to frame mistakes as “learning opportunities.” Whether it’s my mistake or an employee’s, it’s important to take a moment to understand what happened and reflect on how to avoid repeating that mistake. Remember that you can’t change what happened, but you can change what happens next.
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Promotes autonomy and connection with the why
Giving employees a direct window into your thinking allows them to feel like a founder, which is one of our core values. If your employees can understand why a low rating was given for meeting a particular challenge one week, they can be better informed when discussing priorities for the following week. Likewise, if your employees can understand why was especially excited about achieving a key milestone, they will better appreciate the effort that went into it and the greater impact on the business. Giving employees a greater sense of autonomy and permission to connect the dots helps them make more insightful decisions and take strategic action. This is a fundamental part of the professional development of any employee.
Creating these kinds of asynchronous conversations is key to keeping employees engaged, informed, and grounded in what your company is striving to accomplish. When employees know that they have a forum to share their thoughts, and that their thoughts really do matter, they will be much more willing to keep sharing. When you, as a leader, reveal your authentic self, you are giving your team permission to be vulnerable and make mistakes. And when leaders and employees are on the same page, it’s easy to see how much value can be unlocked in just 20 minutes a week.
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