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4 Tips To Have a Highly Productive and Successful Team at any Start-up An organisational culture based on a strong set of values helps attract and retain talent, foster a positive and productive work environment, and provide a clear sense of direction for the company

By Amit Bansal

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For start-up CEOs, building a high-performing team is one of the most critical components of success. This starts with creating a strong organisational culture underpinned by a shared set of values that can drive a sense of cohesion and purpose among employees, and improve morale and productivity.

When it comes to organisational culture, it is important to understand that culture is not just about perks or chic office décor or cool hangout zones. Very simply put, culture is the set of shared beliefs, values, customs and behaviours that define a company. An organisational culture based on a strong set of values helps attract and retain talent, foster a positive and productive work environment, and provide a clear sense of direction for the company. Employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work when they feel a sense of alignment with the company's shared vision.

So, what are some of the shared values and pillars of high performing teams? While these may vary by the type of organization and the industry it is in, my experience of being part of several successful organisations over the years, suggests that the following broad themes are critical components for highly productive and successful teams at any start-up.

Customer-first approach

The customer sits at the heart of every business, and there will be no company (start-up or otherwise) without them. Therefore, a start-up's most important duty is to listen carefully to customers, understand their requirements in-depth and try to address them in the best way possible. This is a continuous, iterative process and organisations must take the effort to inculcate an internal culture of customer orientation and sensitivity amongst all employees. This will create a virtuous loop of customer feedback and continuous improvement.

Productise to scale and succeed

A start-up coming up with a great product or service that fills a gap in the market is one thing. Successfully selling it to a few customers is perhaps a good validation of the idea. But for a start-up to scale, grow and succeed it is imperative to "productize" its offerings. This means converting a service, idea or process into a well-packaged and tangible product that can be sold and delivered at scale to hundreds or thousands of customers. This involves creating a standardized and scalable offering that can be easily replicated and distributed to customers with low incremental costs.

Productizing is a critical requirement to help start-ups to expand their customer base, generate more revenue, and improve their margins. For this, teams within a start-up ecosystem should be trained and encouraged to think and act like product managers, using first principles to transform a new product or service into a well-packaged and marketable solution, with a focus on standardization, scalability, and replicability.

Think big, move fast, start small

Eric Ries, the author of the book "The Lean Start-up," is sometimes credited with popularizing the phrase "Think big, move fast, start small" in the context of start-up methodology. Whatever the origins of this phrase, it is undeniably an important principle for start-ups. It emphasizes rapid experimentation, iterative development, and a customer-centric approach to building and scaling a business as compared to the time-consuming and cumbersome stages traditional companies go through between spotting a market opportunity and responding to it.

Speed of action, freedom to experiment, permission to fail and try again – these should be paramount at every start-up. There needs be an orientation of speed-to-market and Minimum Viable Product thinking, along with a decision-making process where teams speak quickly and directly to one another.

Candour & Open Communications

High-performing teams are built on transparency, collaboration and teamwork. Leaders must strive to create an open and transparent culture based on integrity which incorporates direct constructive feedback and one-on-one interactions, with all employees pulling together towards the same vision. Candour and open communications are paramount in the development of a high-performance team. In the fast-paced and dynamic environment of start-ups, every team member's insights, ideas, and feedback are invaluable assets. Transparent communication fosters trust among team members, encouraging them to share their thoughts and concerns without fear of judgment. This open dialogue leads to more creative problem-solving, efficient decision-making, and a stronger sense of unity.

Building a high-performing team takes time and effort, but the results are well worth it in the long run for the success of a start-up. Teams that are able to bond over shared values and a shared vision can execute faster, smarter and better and create enormous value for themselves and all stakeholders.

Amit Bansal

CEO, Solv

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