What there is in for me:

  • Why communication is a key attribute for entrepreneurs
  • Good news and bad news, which one to share with my team
  • How to build trust and motivate your team using communication

Continuing my last Communicating with Investors, now let’s talk about:

Communicating with the Team
If you’re really aiming to create a great company, you and your team are onboarding in a very tough journey. The problems with communications usually start in setting the expectation. As working in a startup is cool nowadays, everyone wants to work in one, but few are willing to face the struggle and work the long hours necessary to create a great company.

Startups need a talented and dedicated team, so it’s important to set the expectation to the new employees upfront and make sure they are willing to commit together with the rest of the team in this endeavor.

The other problem that many entrepreneurs face related to communication with their team is the difficult to inspire the team toward the dream the entrepreneurs have. Sometimes the entrepreneurs can’t articulate in a proper manner his mission, and other times is just a lack of communicating it well to the team.

If a CEO wants their employees to give all their sweat and blood for the startup, he needs a clear Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) and communicate clear and constantly to all members of his team. Elon Musk uses SpaceX BHAG to motivate his team to achieve unthinkable results, here follows its statement:

“SpaceX was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.”

That is a quite powerful goal to motivate SpaceX team, even during the many arduous times they face!

Another common communication problem entrepreneurs have is not delivering bad news.

Is part of the human nature to not like it to deliver bad news; we don’t want to disappoint people or make them feel bad.

Therefore, founders tend to only communicate good news to their team. When a big account is won, they celebrate; when an investment round is closed, they celebrate even more! However, when they lose the most valuable client or when the startup has a month of cash…silence! During these situations is exactly when you can identify the great entrepreneurs. They inform, take responsibility, and work together with their team in a plan to turn the situation around!

If you worked hard to hire an amazing team, don’t expect them to be stupid and don’t discover what is happening in the company. Also, remember the equation from the post Part I:

CHANGE + UNCERTAINTY = CHAOS

Although there will always be change, good and bad, in a startup, entrepreneurs can reduce the uncertainty by communicating the situation, preventing gossips and speculations that can lead the team into chaos.

Google has a meeting called TGIF ( “Thank God is Friday”) where any employee can ask any question to the founders, that shows a culture of communication and transparency.
When times are hard, it isn’t the lack of information that will save a company. Rather, a great leadership and a motivated team are needed to overcome this situation. For your team to work hard for you, they need to trust you! And they won’t trust you if you’re hiding the situation from them.
Concluding, communication problems with team can have a huge impact on a startup performance, for better or worst! Start a culture of communication while your team it isn’t that big, changing it in the future is going to be a bigger challenge!

Key Takeaways:

  • Have a great Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) and communicate it
  • Sharing bad news is as important as sharing good news
  • Don’t hide bad news; your team isn’t dumb
  • If you hired the right team, trust them
  • Change + Uncertainty = CHAOS
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