To Avoid Common Startup Ailments, Try These Preventative Measures

Having a good company culture can keep your company and employees healthy.

learn more about David Hassell

By David Hassell

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The resolutions have been made, and now it's that time of year again. Stairwells are being used for the first time since last January and everyone is buzzing about the latest health food.

But what happens to our health concerns after the days turn into weeks, then months, that we seemingly have to start all over again, year after year. There must be something proactive we can do to take care of ourselves so we're not running ragged on this proverbial hamster wheel.

Those same thoughts often wander to my business. Have I created enough preventative systems that will keep the health of 15Five consistently optimal? Putting out fires can make us feel useful as leaders, but it's a great way to burn out fast and destroy the morale of a company.

So before those fires can even start, try these preventative measures for three common startup stressors and keep your company happy and healthy.

Creative blockage. When it comes to working creatively, we all know what it's like to hit a wall. One minute our mental juices are flowing, we're firing on all cylinders and we can actually see the box we've managed to innovate out of. It's a good feeling -- until that wall shows up. With time pressures mounting, mediocre work is pushed out, and in the end, no one wins.

Related: 10 Tips to Turn Your Startup Dream Into a Reality

Why not implement a rule that is holistically adopted by your company: If you hit a wall, stop, drop and stroll.

Of course, stroll doesn't have to be literal (although a nice walk always helps me recuperate from a brain freeze), but instead, an opportunity for your team members to go on a creative break that is unrelated to work.

From ping pong, a few strums on a guitar to mindless doodling, encourage whatever helps rejuvenate creativity. Our brains need rest in order to perform at continuous high levels. It may seem counter productive, but it is better than pushing too hard and coming up with sub par work.

Communication breakdown. The sharing of thoughts and ideas, expressing expectations and offering feedback is usually the crux to any business. Conversation breeds innovation and an open dialogue can keep everyone on the same page. If at any time people start to feel discouraged or intimidated to say what's on their minds, or unsure of who to talk to and when, this can really stunt your company's success and growth.

Mitigate this risk by implementing a weekly reporting system. One on ones might be too time consuming and annual performance reviews too detached from the day to day. At 15Five, it's no secret we value open communication and systems that allow for regular check-ins.

Communication breakdown can create a domino effect in any size business and we believe wholeheartedly in the power of encouraging feedback and even acting on some of those ideas. Keep your company healthy by reinforcing those open lines of communication.

Related: Big Ideas Come to Those Who Ask

Straying from business vision. Adrenaline can be a funny thing. When momentum is behind you, the thrill of building your business can lead to great things (sales!) just as fast as it can lead you astray (why did I start this company again?). The health of your business correlates with your own well-being. From my experience, nothing can knock the wind out of your sails faster than losing sight of your goals in the flurry of exciting milestones.

That's why I believe in implementing a system where every decision is connected to a thematic goal and the overarching business vision. Can't connect the dots? Then that decision does not have legs and is not ready to be actualized. Everyone must be ready to defend their ideas with this criteria in mind, and because of this system, really amazing concepts surface and push our entire company closer to our vision.

Just as lifestyle choices affect our physical and mental health, your company's culture will determine the overall health of your business. The choices you make to create and reinforce an environment that nurtures creativity, encourages open dialogue and generates bigger and better ideas will ensure your company will only grow stronger year after year.

Related: Richard Branson on the Key to Success

David Hassell

CEO and Founder of 15Five

David Hassell is the founder and CEO of 15Five, a leading employee engagement solution that helps create high performing teams by combining pulse surveys, weekly check-ins, peer recognition, and people analytics all in one platform. 

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