I’m a firm believer in telling people in the organization “The Whole Story”. Truth begets trust. The more honest you are with the people you work with on how the company’s doing, how they’re doing, what the future looks like, the better everyone feels. And feeling good, roughly translated, means higher morale and a better life. That’s why I like telling “The Whole Story”
From what I’ve seen in companies I worked with previously, and how other start-ups work, talking about anything which could admit weakness or misjudgment, or allow criticism just isn’t in vogue.
“yo, Entrepreneurs totally value honesty!”
Check this out:
Honesty. An entrepreneur must be honest in financing the company and managing the assets of the firm. Honesty, which emanates from decisiveness in taking risks and making choices, lets the entrepreneur avoid false security and stay calm amid confusing situations.
Honesty IS valued by entrepreneurs….with their partners or investors. The thought of treating employees as peers isn’t a consideration. This jack-ass mentality permeates the startup community.
Here’s stuff that entreprenuers/managers shy away from discussing:
1.) How employees at startups are screwed
The people who work at a startup have it raw – it’s highly stressful, disorganized, lower pay and benefits, and there’s NO job security. Equity, if it’s worth anything, is miserly horded between management and investors. So employees are taking a lot of risk, low pay, and hopefully will see some sort of upside. If the company doesn’t bomb (and most do.) they might. Or they might get fired before that all happens. Don’t talk to me about the upside – we know them already. It’s a pittance in comparison to the risks and stresses of the gig.
What’s the excuse of entrepreneurs/managers not doing better? Honestly, I think it’s just expected custom that management gets the horde of upside since they’re taking the “bulk” of the risk. And there is a lot of risk for those people. I’m not downplaying them. But c’mon – your people are probably not doing lunchbreaks or charging overtime…
2.) How’s the company not doing well
There are up’s and down’s with all companies, but nothing like the first few years of startups. Most mortal wounds are self-inflicted by the founders. If you’re an employee and you’re getting fired, its 90% of the time because there wasn’t a job for you in the first place, or the business isn’t viable to sustain your job. Clue in – the company’s not going to rocket off to success for the first few years. It’s going to blow, and even if you, your bosses, everyone did EVERYTHING right, you still likely to fail as a company.
So…..why not just be upfront about it? You’ll build an underdog mentality and that actually fosters the will to win.
3.) How you, the employee, are doing
Entrepreneurs and a lot of management shy from confrontation. I’ve seen first-hand startups where employees go for weeks thinking they’re doing a-okay and wind up fired because, untold to them, they were blowing it. Feedback to employees should be frank and frequent. There should be discussion on how they’re doing great and where they’re failing, and what’s the plan for them tomorrow. Also, they want to know you as management HAVE a plan for employees. Most entrepreneurs have a plan for their company (you know, a 6-month, 12-month, 3 year forecast….) but they don’t have one for their employees. Way to be a jackass, jackass. You don’t need to have it all mapped out, but it’s a good idea to have a series of goals that the employee and you can work out.
There’s a lot more honest things to say, but in the end here’s what I mean: if you’re honest you’re going to engender goodwill from your employees. You’re going to need that: you will fuck up a lot and you’re going to need a lot of goodwill for you to succeed. That’s The Whole Story.