By Alexandru Stan, serial entrepreneur and CEO of tekpona one-stop platform for all software needs.
Many people or CEOs only talk about the company, their product or how to generate more revenue. Yet few ask questions about the people who work for the product and who get the revenue. When you work with people, you have to understand that you are also working with something fragile – a human – that can break into many pieces if you don’t pay attention to their needs, especially when setting up a startup.
Because you have so many stages to the final product, your finances may be limited and the people you have on your team may eventually reach their mental limit.
Building a startup is not easy, especially if you have limited resources. And at some point, both you as the CEO and your team may undergo major changes and you may be in a position to completely change the company’s strategy.
Changes are not easy for some people and you will need to know how to deal with them. I know people around the world are talking about mental health, and many large companies offer alternatives and support for those in need. We are also confronted everywhere with a new term: burnout.
Your team’s mental health is the key to success or failure.
In our startup, my team works not only with their minds, but also with their emotions. And like many things, these are not unlimited resources. After many changes in our startup, I noticed that my team did not face changes in the same way as I did. Some business people will see them as an obligation, but I saw them as the key to success or an immediate failure if I did nothing for them.
With increasing work and changes, people may be reaching an end point in their ability to function and focus. What are the signs?
• Always tired. You may be able to see it in their faces.
• Self-doubt. They may have difficulty finding solutions and lack of confidence.
• Feeling overwhelmed. Any task you give them can feel like a burden.
• Always negative and anxious. You will notice that they have a defensive attitude towards new ideas.
And these are some of the signs that triggered me as CEO. So not only is there a dead valley for your startup, but you can also end up in a burnout phase with your team. For some people this is a serious problem and we as leaders need to treat it as seriously as possible.
How can you improve the mental health of your team?
If you pay attention to your team, the first step has been taken. Now you need to understand what causes them to burn out and meet their needs.
1. Give them a break.
If you are going to change your business, take a break and step back. Let them process all the changes without having to think about the solutions. I know we live in a capitalist world and you lose every minute or hour that you don’t work. But it’s better to lose some money than a group of great people.
2. Find the stressor.
Find out what causes them so much stress that they can no longer function and try to find a solution. Do they need a few days off without hearing the word “work”? Please give it to them. Maybe a vacation or just a few days at home doing nothing or resting. It’s up to them. Today, stress can lead to a host of other health problems. So help them improve their personal and work life.
3. Set some boundaries.
When you build a startup, all your time goes to work. You have to work constantly to build a final product from one idea. But sometimes you have to let it go and understand that your team will not work as much as you as CEO. So don’t talk to them about work all the time. Don’t let them work on weekends; encourage them to do other activities that can free their minds and help them relax.
These are just some workarounds. You will have to find something together that works in the long run. You could lose everything if you lose them in the most important moments of your startup or business. Don’t feel comfortable with the idea that you can easily replace people. Yes, that’s possible. You can always find greater professionals than the people on your team, but you will likely still encounter the same problem. You have to get to the root of the problem.
I know that many founders also deal with burnout, not just their teams, and I think it’s important to stop labeling people who are going through emotional changes. But more than that, we need to improve the mental health of our team as leaders of a company.
I think that burnout can no longer be avoided, whether you have a startup or a mature company. But I think we can make some temporary decisions and help our teams accept what they are going through and overcome that period.