Movemeon, CharlieHR and Techspace came together for the joint event ‘Building a High-Performance Culture in Start-ups’.
It was an honest and engaging evening, refreshingly addressing tricky topics of employee performance and retention away from the corporate lingo through the genuine and transparent experience of Ben Gately, Co-founder and COO of Charlie HR.
Co-founding his first business at the age of 16, Ben’s experience in the start-up game has been shaped by the familiar challenge: How should we think about our people, our retention, our business?
After receiving a biting assessment from an investor, he found the answer to this question, and for wider company growth also, to be inextricably linked to building a High-Performance culture.
This, Ben stressed, is far from being a culture where hard work is equated with long hours or with “doing more”. In fact, if anything, he argued, that would be the fastest and most effective way to kill all motivation, disenfranchise employees and, ultimately, lose them (all while greatly hurting the business in the process).
Instead, the key is ‘performance’, the delivery of quality results and impact. Something that is driven by focus and effectiveness, in other words, behaviour – not hours.
To a build and embed a company-wide high-performance culture, Ben shared the following tips:
- Start by defining the driving behaviours for high performance – look beyond your values and instead really set out the principles that people should make integral to their work to deliver to their highest ability. Crucially, don’t be tempted to set them out from the top-down, but involve your people in the process of definition to make sure the principles reached actually speak to employees – they will be the ones following them!
- Get everyone in the organisation to rate and give feedback to each other against the behaviours and how they are currently met (or not) by each person
- As the founder, take the time to meet with your employees one-to-one and review not only how they meet the behaviours identified, but also how they interpret each behaviour and how this applies to them. In fact, for this exercise to work, it is paramount never to forget that everyone is unique and so everyone will do things in their own way. Ben spent three months doing this, working out the authentic representation of a behaviour held by each individual in the company and reaching a mutual understanding.
- Repeat the behaviours ad nauseam, during team meetings, lunches and briefs – behavioural science demonstrates that the key for a message to stick is repetition (sure, it might be boring, but it is effective!)
- As the founder, hold yourself to the bar and the highest standard of behaviour that you set for others. If the company policy is to never be in the office later than 10 am, always be in the office at 10 am – if it’s 25 days annual leave, take
- 25 days of annual leave – not more. Otherwise, your employees will be a lot less likely to feel receptive to your instructions or follow through with them in their work.
Doing the above, CharlieHR saw motivation in the team and company performance sky-rocket.
Certainly, as Q&A questions investigated, it was not always a simple and straightforward process.
But, as Ben emphasised, nothing in a start-up is free from risk and challenge, but the pay-off was worth it.
Read more about CharlieHR and building a high-performance culture on their blog here.
Sign up for future Movemeon events here.
Movemeon.com was founded by McKinsey colleagues, Nick Patterson & Rich Rosser.
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