One of the greatest challenges while running a start-up is how you get new people on board and how you manage them efficiently, without having a predefined structure or any business predictability. Many times, as the Co-founder @ cv30, I asked myself over and over again “How do I make employees work and deliver the best results in a fast-changing environment, challenged by the scarcity of resources?”
By definition, working in a start-up implies uncertainty and hard work, no matter if you are the founder, CFO or the social media executive. However, it is the founders’ job to make sure that although highly hectic and dynamic, the work environment is prone to ensure the best deliverables for clients and users. Let’s see how is the management style at cv30 and how involved are our employees in every decision.
First of all, since I’ve started the business, there was not a single moment when I’ve thought about cv30’s employees as anything other than my colleagues and in many days, my friends :) Actually, we all make fun when either me or my partner are called “the Boss”, because no one feels like that and we did not promote a culture where people should be afraid of the big boss or live in fear that the boss comes to their office. Moreover, we all work together in the same office space, not behind closed doors and we joke together, make fun of each other or have lunch together.
We value transparency and authenticity which manifest into every area of the business.
Actually, even though in the beginning I’ve said that startups are prone to chaos, more or less, I should mention that we are full of structures, systems and guidelines, mostly thanks to my partner, Radu, who invents new systems on a weekly basis (he’s a bit of a systems' freak). I honestly think that we’ve managed to stay in business for so long (we’ve opened our marketing agency 6 years ago and we’ve launched cv30 startup 3 years ago), especially because we were structured and organized from day 1. We pretty much have a system for everything: from how much coffee or water we drink per day / month to complex income - expense 5-year projections. Our systems are built to take things out of our minds and to keep us free of the energy expenditure while we are doing business which requires creativity & strategic skills.
Getting back to our management style, we value transparency and authenticity which manifest into every area of the business.
We keep our P&L and cashflow visible to the entire company - in fact, we developed our own cashflow app to make sure everyone has 24/7 access to financial information and it’s easily reachable by anyone who needs an invoice or a payment’s due date.
I know this is not a common practice inside companies, but me and my partner consider that transparency at this sensitive level:
1. builds trust among the team (people are not wondering where the money goes, because they can easily see) and
2. makes our colleagues much more responsible and careful when closing a deal with a client or negotiating with a supplier.
Also, every new project comes with an elaborate project sheet which contains every aspect involved in delivering the best results (people involved, overhead costs, direct costs, commissions and so on). Before we start implementing the project, every stakeholder (the persons who play a part in the project - seller, project manager etc) reviews and agrees with the terms of the project sheet. This way, everyone involved is aware of each detail of the project and is held responsible for the end result.
What is more, the entire management style is focused on people, to empower them from early stages to be in charge of their own success or failure, without blaming others or the boss (commonly used to evacuate responsibility). From day 1, we guide new joiners to understand our mission, values, products and services and be able to easily state them whenever asked.
Each week, Radu is in charge of people management and development, meaning that each employee has a 1-1 coaching session to address possible blockages or to discover how to explore new limits and get out of the comfort zone. The result is constant improvement, at a personal level, but also at a team level by boosting confidence and overcoming obstacles.
For the past few years, we’ve cultivated a collaborative mindset and we value teamwork, so brainstormings, fast forward meetings and strategy coffee talks are held on a daily basis. We consult with each other because we truly think that more brains are far better than a single one and a different perspective may lead to a better result. Each one of us speaks her/his mind and contrary opinions are highly encouraged.
Because we share the good and the bad, we’ve come up with a gamification system by scoring each other at the end of the week based on our results and the values we’ve acted upon that specific week. This way, everyone learns what his/her colleagues delivered and if there are questions, suggestions or any kind of feedback, they are openly expressed and debated to make sure that the following week brings out the best in us. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows and we end up arguing sometimes, but in the end it’s all about transparency and constructive feedback.
Personalized employee work experience
While working in a startup is never easy, it also has its perks, like being able to work from actually everywhere, since you’ll probably need only your laptop and phone. This allows us to create a personalized work experience for us and our colleagues, by creating a flexible work schedule and a personal touch approach to all business areas. We can either work from home, cafes or the office (which is actually more enjoyable than you’d think, because it pretty much resembles a stylish guest house, with a big, sunny terrace). Although we have guidelines for each and every email sent or business proposal, we encourage people to think outside the box, speak their mind and create their own personal brand, while making sure to stick to the company’s standards.
We have a diverse culture, with different upbringings, hence distinct life perceptions, however we like to think about ourselves as a bunch of crazy people brought together by the same guiding principles: eat, sleep, repeat - just kidding (although there are some crazy days when we crave a 24-hours sleep and a mountain of sweets) - our official guiding principles are: evolution, trust, teamwork and results driven and, believe or not, we deliver results based on them every single day.
To sum up, if it’s a thing I’ve learned from all the employers’ visits while creating their story through photography and videography, is that the management team leads the way a business is conducted and, where the managers are questionable leaders, the employees are not so great, let’s say :)
That’s why, at cv30, we constantly strive to improve the management style in a way that empowers people and makes them be a better version of themselves while creating value for each party involved in business.