Unless your startup has had some major investment or is already breaking through that cash-strapped early stage, as its leader, you find yourself having to cover many different roles.
Of course, any staff you have managed to take on will also be pulling double- and triple-time as you all use your passion to get this thing off the ground without enough dosh to pay enough people to do it all.
But all doubling up is not created equal.
Dividing up the work is not just about cutting the to-do lists into equal parts.
All work is not created equal in the eyes of the worker.
This is where your role as a self-aware, savvy leader comes in. If you aren’t one of these already, you risk creating miserable team members who become a risk to your startup.
But there are a few simple things you can do to avoid being that leader and make sure that all team members can do their best work.
This is what that misery, and your role as its “fixer” might look like:
I’ve been talking to a friend recently who is having trouble at work. Essentially, her boss has her doing two jobs- one of which she loves and his good at, and the other is one dumped on her that she is totally unsuited to.
The one she hates is all about tasks and admin and lists. The other is about being creative and making new processes and products work and finding solutions. This is the job she signed up for and that she thrives in.
In addition to all the misery she is feeling at work because of this dual role and the fact that half of it is totally contrary to her personality and aptitudes, she has cut out all the things she likes most in her personal life to try and eliminate some of the noise and anxiety she feels from trying to keep up at work.
Not only does this make her even more miserable, it’s a loss for the community. She runs code clubs and tech events for women, teaches, and is developing a tech entrepreneur curriculum to put to video. And she is fantastic at all those things.
The anxiety this work mis-match is causing is leaching into and wrecking her life outside of work.
And she’s not clueless herself- she realises the types of tasks that she struggles with. She ends up jumping between them all and never finishing. She describes it as “drowning in tasks” and as “a kind of hell”.
It crowds out the creative and idea-generating aspects of her job that she thrives on and that makes her enjoy going to work each day.
If this situation doesn’t change for her, this company will lose a great employee who has been around since the beginning and knows her stuff. The community has already lost her extra-curricular contributions.
Of course each of us has parts of our jobs that we like less than others, or that we are less good at. And we each have the responsibility in our jobs to speak up for ourselves, communicate with our boss, negotiate in our roles, and be honest when we’re aren’t coping.
But a leader must be willing to listen, understand, and accommodate those things that their team members tell them, or more powerfully, show them, that isn’t right in the workplace.
I have heard many accounts of my friend’s attempt to communicate with her boss about the things she is struggling with most at work. And things don’t change. This has been going on for a while now, and now my friend is planning her exit strategy.
That leader will then have to go out and recruit and train up her replacement.
This would be a waste, when it doesn’t have to be this way.
A miserable team member is a costly team member. As the leader, yes it’s your fault if that misery festers. But these are a few simple strategies you can use to nip that misery in the bud, and get the best out of everyone.
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Originally published on Medium.com.