Who needs rules? That’s typically the M.O. for startups – we’re too cool, too innovative for rules. Rules hold us back.
Every startup wants to believe this, but in truth, the “no rules” mentality sinks far more startups than it helps. That’s why there are a few ground rules that every office needs.
They’re not restrictions meant to limit thought and creativity, but rather policies that will help your company conduct business in a professional and effective way, all while continuing to push the limits.
Here are 5 rules every startup needs to implement immediately:
1. Be like a boy scout and always be prepared
Because startups are all about new ideas, employees are sometimes tempted to skip meeting prep and just show up. Isn’t the most innovative approach to anything simply winging it and hoping for the best? The answer is a firm “no.” Winging it leads to presentations given with no material, supporting data, or even clear direction. Basically, it wastes everyone’s time.
Begin by insisting that employees always come to meetings prepared to discuss the matters at hand. You can help by preparing an agenda to circulate in advance – you can make a few adjustments based on team recommendations when you get there. Being prepared for meetings shows respect for your colleagues and attention to your work. Being prepared is mandatory.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
2. Play It Safe
When imagining your startup, you probably envisioned a lot of collaboration. Whether that meant an open plan office or shared spaces for networking, you imagined a space where people worked together. This is a great overall office ethos, but it isn’t a one size fits all model. Some things will have to be private.
3. Stick to the schedule
As a startup, you may not feel like a standard nine to five workday suits your company. Especially if many of your employees are night owls or simply Millennials who haven’t kicked the habit of sleeping in. You may choose to keep later hours or allow employees to set their own, within reason of course.
So long as employees are productive and put in the necessary time, including fitting their schedule to collaborate with others, there’s no reason to worry about exactly when folks clock in or out.
4. Work from home
You may have noticed a trend in which more people are working from home as we shift to cloud-based office systems. Unfortunately, employees often take advantage of work from home policies. Keep work from home as a restricted option, more of a privilege that can be revoked at any time.
Grant your employees the trust to try working away from the office, as well as the tools to stay in touch with the office, such as office-targeted chat software.
Working from home is a valid option, but in some ways it raises the bar in terms of what you should expect from your employees – if they aren’t more productive at home than at work, then they should expect to come to the office.
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Tom Robbins
5. Don’t forget to say thank you
Did any of your employees send you a thank you card or email after their interview? Writing thank you notes is good etiquette when you’re interviewing for a job, but the courtesy doesn’t end there. Teach your employees to regularly thank outside collaborators, guests, and backers. When timeliness is less important, handwritten notes are especially appreciated. They help build relationships, making it more likely the same individuals will work with you in the future.
These five rules aren’t the kind that will hold your startup back, but rather the kind that will serve as a launchpad for success. And what’s more, by getting everyone on the same page regarding these expectations from the start, you build a cohesive team that knows you think highly of them and expect them to perform to those standards.