Stress is unavoidable in working at startup industry. Lots of fast phase changes is happening almost everyday. Everyone has been pushed and forced to adapt with the unpredictable changes and workload.
Having a positive work environment is necessary to build a positive teamwork and vibes in the organization. There are ways to cope with stress that you are facing on working in startups.
1. Acknowledge the fear-tension-pain cycle
The midwife shared details about how fear, tension and pain are not only interrelated but a virtuous cycle. This simple principle, where greater fear leads to more tension and increased pain, was coined in the mid-1900s and usually affects first-time expectant mothers.
And although stress in startups and childbirth is very different, knowledge is the circuit-breaker in both cases.
The more a mother (and partner) know about pregnancy and childbirth, the more they are able to manage their fear, tension and pain.
Startup teams see the fear-tension-pain cycle play out most days. Acknowledge it and starting conversations that show a willingness to introduce the right circuit-breaking knowledge goes a long way to removing fear and breaking the cycle.
2. Share problems across the business
The ‘it’s my venture and my issue so I’ll work it out’ mindset is a waste of time.
If you’re thinking this or worried about not having all the answers, you’re thinking about this the wrong way.
The answer to problem-solving in most cases is not to reduce the number of brains working on the problem.
If you look to military special forces around the world you’ll find a surprising fact that escapes most people due to their perception that the military is all about command and control.
Regardless of the size of a team, the leader always knows they are leading other leaders. For this reason, and after establishing the situation and context, they ask their team members for input before making a decision on how to proceed.
This team effort almost always yields a better solution.
And the more prepared you can make your team to engage in a ‘problem-led’ discussion, especially if you ask for their input at short notice, the better it can be for the situation.
I use an approach adapted from a process designed by my friend Adam Mather to give people the best chance of helping me solve issues.
Before bringing people into a conversation, I make sure that:
Context is clear – what the situation is, how it evolved and the fact that I’m not sure how to approach it.
I can articulate the problem – be specific about the nub of the issue
Homework is done – come to the conversation with well-researched options in the mind but do not offer them so as to avoid biasing your team’s input. Instead, have them up your sleeve to respond to probing questions or suggestions from team members
This doesn’t mean sending more slack messages or email. Over-communicate in this context means finding ways to better express intent.
Think about the emails you write and the slack messages you send. Although emojis might help, email and slack messages can’t express the stress, angst or happiness that sits behind what’s written. In fact, they do a good job of removing intent from communications altogether.
The best way to reinstall intent, particularly if your team is not co-located is to communicate, as often as possible, using video. Do not underestimate the importance of seeing the face and the cues of your teammates.