• The ManageUp Team

Startups: Getting Organized Is Mission Critical and 5 Tips to Help You Get There

Updated: Jun 14, 2018

#StartUps #Gamification #EmployeeEngagement #Workflows

The beauty of working in a startup environment is the tremendous flexibility and creativity it allows for its employees. The startup employee increasingly works from home, gets insight into all aspects of a business, and often has more input into how the product or service is developed than an employee working for a traditional company.


While working for a startup or a young company may be extremely exciting, like any workplace, poor management of the workforce often has disastrous consequences.

A study highlighted in Forbes finds that some of the top reasons that startups fail include a loss of focus, disharmony on the team and investors, burnout, and failure to pivot.


Let us dig into more details on why this may be the case:

  1. Who handles human resources in a startup?

  2. Who is responsible for minuscule, yet critical, tasks?

  3. How do you reward or recognize the people who take out the trash, or bring in coffee that they paid for out of their own pocket?

  4. What’s more, how do you motivate people to take ownership of these smaller and less glamorous tasks?

Doing Employee Recognition the Right Way



While startups may be at the forefront of innovation, you cannot overlook thoughtful leadership and comprehensive management. An example of failed leadership and management leading to a multitude of problems is Uber. The scandals that plagued its leaders and the way they handled the organization resulted in loss of market share to the company’s leading competitor, Lyft.


Uber’s striking moral lesson is this: Many of the seemingly-small factors that led to major crises could have easily been avoided if only they have better leadership and quality task management.


Another important aspect for startups to consider is employee recognition. It is never too early to start thanking and recognizing employees for their hard work.

Don Weinstein, the Chief Strategy Officer of ADP, a global provider of cloud-based Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions recently noted how important it is to recognize and compensate people. In a recent Forbes article, he states, “The latest revolution sweeping the workforce is how we recognize and pay people. The winners will be the organizations that keep pace…and adapt to meet changing needs.”


If you are a startup company and want to win in the workplace even at its earliest phase, keep these 5 helpful tips in mind:


1. Gamify the workplace.


Startups are especially well-suited to meet the new needs of the workforce, and even set the tone for the rest of industry. One method for meeting these needs is implementing an internal points system where employees are rewarded for their contributions.Learn more: Gamification: The Smartest Way to Drive Employee Engagement


This kind of system may be particularly successful in a startup environment as it can tap into the competitive nature of a small company seeking to make a dent in the market.

Gamifying the workplace has shown to have tremendous benefits on workplace culture, including an 86% increase in goal awareness among staff (remember how startups fail due to lack of focus?). Learn more about gamification and its benefits here.


At ManageUp, we call this SQUEEZE (Safety, Quality, Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Zest), which systematically encompasses five characteristics that drive results in an organization. They are translated to scores based on individuals’ and teams’ timely completion of assigned tasks and workflows, thus gamifying and incentivizing the completion of all tasks. Learn more, click here


2. Get organized.


Being highly organized is important for the success of an emerging and growing company. For startups, everyone involved in the business want an effective process wherein they can manage and organize their tasks. A recent survey of a small startup found that 66% of employees would prefer some sort of an external organizational help or tool rather than doing their own organizing from scratch.


And this is not surprising: people who work in startups often wear many hats and manage a range of tasks, from designing marketing content to sourcing raw materials to sending invoices to clients. How can one be expected to manage administrative tasks while thinking outside of the box, making important connections, or learning about the needs of a niche consumer?


Among startup leaders, it’s also not uncommon to hear, "I'm catching up on my email.” While emails started out as a productivity tool, now it can be more distracting when mailboxes are cluttered and so much time is wasted looking for a particular attachment or a specific thread of emails.


“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world

are the ones who do.”

- Steve Jobs


Let's face it, entrepreneurs and their teams are the crazy ones, the innovative ones, the brave ones who are working to change the world. If you are one of us, then you know that only so much can be done in one day – better to take the time to streamline your workflows and organizational processes now in order to avoid a headache later. It’s time to minimize the distractions so you and your team can stay focused on your innovation.


So while you focus on your innovations, organize your business in a way that your 'i's are dotted and your t's are crossed'. We live in a world where it's important to be simultaneously private (consumer and client protections, encryption, etc.) and transparent (human resources concerns, diversity in the workplace, etc.). Old organizational software just won’t do the trick anymore, and you can’t always rely on admins to teach an entire team about changing policies. As Don Weinstein notes, the winners will be the companies that quickly adapt to changing policies and the ever-evolving workplace.

ManageUp is a comprehensive task, project, workflow management platform

that scales to your needs.


ManageUp CORE package is FREE for the first 5 users. Ask about our Early Stage Program or set up a 30 - minute consultation.



3. Be hands-on.


According to Harvard Business School, startups with a hands-on management approach are more likely to fare well in the market and to retain employees than those without. The authors of the study found that it's essential to ensure that employees are working on the right tasks, getting constant and productive feedback, and are happy in their environments. It is therefore crucial to have a comprehensive system that encourages interaction, engagement, and feedback if you are a startup company.


4. Stay lean, even with human resources.


When it comes to hiring the best talents for your startup, you may be tempted to think, "let me just hire a human resources expert to get the ball rolling and then call it a day." Don Weinstein, in all his experiences with startup businesses, advises against having a ‘come what may attitude’ when it comes to HR processes. He says,

“The organizations that will win are the ones that will adjust to changing needs. Look ahead and around at the changing workplace… it’s important to adopt a comprehensive system that helps you pivot whenever and wherever necessary – both cumulative and efficient.”

Employees across all sectors are increasingly vocalizing their discontent with traditional organizational inefficiencies. As a startup, it’s crucial to have operational effectiveness as it will help distinguish your company and differentiate you from your less organized competitors.


By using new technologies that help streamline your processes, you will get more out of your inputs as these technologies will eliminate waste, motivate employees better, and give you and your managers greater insight into managing activities or sets of activities. As a result, your company will become more efficient and effective on a day-to-day basis.


Let’s take face-to-face meetings as an example of how workflow processes could be streamlined.


If you are currently with a company, you must have noticed that meetings can easily become unproductive. In fact, executives consider more than 67% of meetings as failures with more than $37 million wasted on unproductive meetings each year in the United States .



Using ManageUp, you can create a task template that can serve as an agenda and help keep the discussion on track.

Share the template with your team, assign tasks to specific employees, and ask for comments and feedback on notes made throughout the meeting.

This way, you can reduce the time spent reviewing next steps and action items by quickly and comprehensively aggregating information in one place.


5. Start the right way - Streamline your workflows and processes.


Let’s refer to our example on face-to-face meeting example once again. Starting a company entails countless meetings and seemingly endless discussions. They are crucial to get things going, but they could easily use valuable time which could have been spent on implementation.


Researchers find that meetings are unproductive because there is a lack of planning and structure, remote participants aren’t engaged, and employees multitask during the meetings. Sixty-nine percent of the survey's participants admitted to checking their emails during meetings while 49% admitted to doing other unrelated work.

A comprehensive operational management software will help your startup company succeed. Know how such tool can help reduce burdens on employees’ time so that they don’t feel the need to constantly work through important meetings. Learn more here.

Another common workflow inefficiency is the constant need for data. Much of an employees’ time is spent researching the background information needed to understand a task, project, or goal.


This is especially true in the case of startups where the sky is the limit when acting on new ideas, and where traditional rules or workflows do not apply. The employee has to figure out how to successfully deliver by itemizing the project down to specific tasks, which often involves holding several meetings, spending many hours in research and coordination, and refining the end goal to adjust to new findings.


While this process is part of the fun and flexibility of working for a startup, this process also presents a great opportunity for you to use your tools to streamline workflows and then make efficiency and excellence a culture by enhancing the people part of the business Encourage employees to teach each other, to talk about their unique backgrounds and experiences, and to engage with the team

in new and exciting ways.


In summary, it’s important to be innovative right from the start, with the ability to quickly pivot and change, but it’s also crucial to stick to some organizational basics and actively consider how to manage your team.


Be ahead of the game by integrating a comprehensive management platform that helps you digitalize your workflows and streamline your processes. But don’t forget to do this while maintaining flexibility, encouraging employee engagement and knowledge sharing, and gamifying tasks.


Making the right decision to manage your workflows will bring your organization one step closer to reaching your primary objective, which is accomplishing growth and maintaining relevance in the industry.


ManageUp is a comprehensive SaaS platform that can help startups to get the boost they need when it comes to managing work and teams. It incorporates team thread/channel communication, task and project management, knowledge sharing, and employee engagement in one platform, giving you a powerful management tool at hand.