So, you’re a startup, and you have this great idea for a product or a service that will leave this world a little bit better than you found it. How do you turn this idea into reality? Of course, by teaming up with the kind of people that can share your vision. And as your company grows, it is very important not to fall into the outdated trap of carrots & sticks management — because if it's a great product you are aiming for, this concept will bring more harm than good.
Works on the wrong kind of employees
Pavlov tricks are effective — that's for sure. People might be rational, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get to the ‘animal’ part in each of us. Still, appealing to people's reflexes might be the wrong kind of strategy if you are working for the result. Let’s be completely honest — if you treat people like dogs, rewarding certain actions and punishing the other ones, what kind of performance do you expect? Which logically leads us to the next point.
Fear/reward does not leave room for creativity
A real-life business environment is way more complex than an experiment lab, and in real life, you cannot always expect an 'immediate' treat for the right action/decision. This is highly discouraging for the carrots/stick addicts, who are looking for on-the-spot compensation.
Then again, fear is not the kind of feeling that motivates people to take action. The best it can do is lead to inaction. So, if you are looking for colleagues who can and will take responsibility (and you should, because you cannot be the only one doing the thinking), fear is not how you push them. The whole concept of fear is about staying still, not moving forward.
Requires constant monitoring
Finally, constantly monitoring who gets a carrot and who a stick is a time-consuming task. And an exhausting one, on top of that. Sure, you may not be the one holding the stick and giving out the carrots. But whoever does that should understand it’s a full-time job. The question is — are you ready to dedicate some of your funds to pay the stick-holder’s salary?
Remember product adoption cycle — appeal to innovators and early adopters
What does this marketing concept have to do with management? Simple — your first customers are no different from your first employees. The first people to pay for your product/service will be the people who see genuine value in it; and the first people to develop your product/service should be the people who see genuine value in it. They are the creative muscle behind all of your achievements. They have to CARE. Otherwise, you have zero chances of getting into the main market.
Motivate, don't manage
Fear keeps us still; motivation pushes us forward — as simple as that. If you are working on a product that is somehow changing this world, you have to think like a visionary, not like a manager. For a startup, vision is the most important thing ever. It’s way more important than the product itself — because it outlines your direction and, more importantly, helps you get there. Provided you can communicate this vision clearly to all of your peers.
Focus on the result
Always remember what you are trying to achieve. Before doing anything, ask yourself this one question — will it help you get what you are aiming at? If yes, how? When it comes to management, the question should be: will hiring this person help me create the product I am trying to create? Convey the same idea to the people working with you — and make sure everyone continues to do the same as your staff grows.
Encourage flexibility and creativity
You should understand by now that standard office hours are only useful when it comes to mechanical operations. Whenever you're looking for creative thinking and high performance, it's illogical to impose any hourly limits. Sure, this may sound tricky at first. But in practice, motivated employees do not always work outside the office — even when given the opportunity to do so. The same goes for total weekly hours worked. You'd be surprised to see that sometimes flexible schedule magically makes business week longer (and way more productive) than usual.
Finally, do not expect blind obedience. Nothing good ever comes out from a one-man project. You’ve teamed up with other people so you could achieve something great together — so go for it!