HR Mistakes to Avoid in a Startup – Candid Feedback from Startup Employees

We all probably know a lot about HR management and the value of good team in a startup. To further help on the same issue we surveyed some startup employees and have compiled a list of most popular and significant mistakes committed by some well known Indian startups and their founders. For privacy issues we have not used any names.

1. Forgetting to appreciate: You have read enough about employee motivation but you must learn to appreciate daily procedural work as well. Things that look trivial actually make a lot of difference to your company in the long run. Like a good resume found by your HR department on Naukri or forwarded by your current employee. Appreciate that, even if it was their daily work. This requires consistency and may not be easy but certainly keeps the employee excited all the time. – HR executive, BPO

2. Not defining tasks: Learn to define the task in one simple line, being very specific about what is to be delivered. Most of the time a task is undone not because the employee is not making enough efforts but because employer never knew what exactly he wanted to be done. –Graphic designer, Ecommerce

An acclaimed Indian creative director puts it this way – “If i don’t get an idea after reading the brief for the 3rd  time then probably the brief is all bull shit and I will deliver bull shit.”

3. Not encouraging to ask questions: Remember, if he is interested in asking questions he will also do the job well. If he leaves with a question in his mind, he will come back to you without the work. Give me some time to clear my doubts before you say “I want it by EoD”. – Programmer, IT services

4. Forcing decisions in cases when you are not an expert: Say if it is about deciding the color of your website. Both you and your emlpoyee are not an expert, then you should let the employee decide. It won’t make any difference to the product but would encourage him and not make you a Hari Sadu. – Programmer, Ecommerce

5. Not crediting salary on time: In a startup there are chances that you are already underpaying him so even a single day delay matters. The paychecks should be handed out before the month ends. You are not giving him advance for the remaining number of days but it is he who worked for you without pay for these many days. Do you take up a project without advance payment? – Network Manager, Hosting Services

Their might be a risk of high churning rate at month end but that is again for the X type of employees, that too the low skilled workers.

6. Restricting certain websites: You might have done this for productivity issues but you do not realize that it makes the employee believe that you do not trust him. By doing so you have proven that he is not motivated enough. He is not a kid who has to be forced to study (work). If he does not want to do it, he will not deliver his best. This might increase procedural efficiency but not effectiveness of your team. – UI Designer, Web Marketing.

Platforms like Youtube etc. host a lot of informative videos as well. Also, if a quick game of 5 mins can refresh his mind, he would be more productive for the next 55 mins.

7. No or Limited free coffee – Programmer, Classifieds (and about 8 others)

Founders, try and conduct a regular session with your team where they can speak their heart out. If you already conduct such sessions do share your experience.

Also, i believe the last one should be made a punishable offense by the startup ecosystem. 😉  (Disclaimer: Nescafe did not pay me for this.)

Having a dull Monday? Let it out here. Will make you feel better.

[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]

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