Pandemic Edition: Tips on Keeping Your Start-up Team Motivated

DSIF_Pandemic Edition: Tips on Keeping Your Start-up Team Motivated
Anastasia Coviliac

Anastasia Coviliac

Anastasia is a BSc International Business Administration student at the University of Twente and 2020-2021 marketing ambassador of DSIF, who works on the project-based position.

COVID-19 forced start-ups to rapidly adapt to the online environment and navigate through financial and operational challenges. This sharp change influenced team motivation and engagement due to the lack of physical interaction. In this blog, we provide you with general tips on keeping your start-up team motivated in these uncertain times.

Why are the team's involvement and motivation so crucial?

Each teammate’s level of commitment, drive, and energy is essential for a startup’s success. Without these factors, teammates are largely unfocused which may undermine the quality of their work. As a result, the startup’s productivity would slowly decrease, leading to the unwillingness of reaching important goals.

But what is happening within the organization during a crisis?

Start-up members are uncertain, the effects of pandemic influence the enthusiasm that was present at the beginning of a project and which now is slowly volatilized. The moment when a team’s motivation drops, start-up accomplishments will follow soon, and the phase of crisis will become a final one. 

It’s not easy for students/employees to be forced to do their start-up work mainly at home, behind the computer during this challenging situation.  Therefore, we would like to present five insights into keeping your employees/colleagues/friends motivated and ambitious, encouraging them to be optimistic and driven in what they have already started. 

Tips to keep the team motivated

1. Keep your colleagues and clients updated about the situation

Always Inform your team what your short-term and long-term perspectives are due to the business changes resulting from the restrictions in place.

Make a ‘what-if’ analysis, including all possible steps and outcomes. Constant team interaction on the current situation will help to maintain the organizational spirit. The role of every person’s involvement in the start-up will affect the general decision and each individual will feel that there is an ongoing difference that they can make in the company.

If your start-up has already gained a primary customer group, inform them as well via email, or a telephone message that you are facing difficult times but with the customer’s patience and support you can go through it together.

2. Stay positive, track the well-being of your team

As a leader of a group, it’s important to be a catalyst for a positive attitude. Try to create an ambiance of the familiar and open-minded group during the pandemic time. It is essential to encourage teammates and discuss with them on all topics, even those as simple as  “How they are doing?”  and “What new hobbies they may have adopted during the corona?”. 

When you are showing interest not just from the perspective of work and tasks, but concern about colleague’s well-being, there is a big chance that employees will feel the necessity and appreciation of their position in the organization. It could increase self-esteem, enthusiasm and boost morale.

3. Focus on a digitalized version of your start-up

If your start-up is already digitalized, then try to find the weak  points in the sections as the marketing, strategy and business model. With your team, identify the steps that need to be taken for an overall upgrade of the start-up. In this way, a collective brainstorming will help to maintain a team’s spirit and motivation. 

If your start-up wasn’t based on an online perspective, then it’s time to accelerate digital transformation, while establishing variable cost structures, and implementing agile operations. Assemble your team and work all together on the 360-degree change of your business. Being highly focused on the product/service or start-up approach, motivated employees will see areas for improvement and will be driven to enhance them.

4. Organise team bonding sessions

To develop a relationship with your start-up team in a time with a lack of physical interaction, we propose you to have a board game competition. For something less physical, online games are a great option for team bonding. 

For maximum fun, organize a board game session including awards. You can play quizzes, trivias and etc. There are a bunch of online games and platforms for that based on strategy, psychology, and sociology that require just an internet connection and a camera in front. Alternatively, you could play the “Never have I ever” game, it is a great opportunity to find out something completely new about your teammates and have fun. 

Online games are good for some friendly competition that everyone can be a part of, no matter what age, gender, or job level. It can be an effective way to bond with your colleagues being at the distance with each other. 

5. Practice agile work rhythm

If your start-up needs to make quick adjustments to priorities, approaches, or the content of work, an agile way of working is essentially well-suited. The small deviation of tasks, also called the “deconstruction” method can help your team to break tasks into small units and to accomplish them one piece at a time. The advantage of this approach is that by completing tasks little by little, the team keeps more in-course corrections. When the situation changes due to new governmental restrictions – as it is done regularly through the coronavirus crisis – agile work allows for easy shifts because work has been planned in smaller portions and over shorter time horizons. In this way, the start-up workload is flexible and teammates are working remotely.

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