First-time managers: turn your team from overwhelmed into overwellmed
If you’re a manager (especially first-timer) at a startup, your team will feel constantly overwhelmed.
You can’t work in a startup and not expect to feel that way. There is 1/3 of the people to do what is required. Founders generally aim to achieve 5x what is likely possible. And targets feel like 10x that.
Theory says that is the only way to build new products and disrupt markets. Theory is probably right, but what it doesn’t say is the odds of success are still pretty low.
And by the way: a startup is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes real time.
So how do you keep it going through the long run? You foster a team environment that turns overwhelmed into overwellmed. That means:
1. Create learning moments. Likely your team is quite junior. Balance execution with pure “soak-&-learn”, and every day will be ROI positive.
2. Join them “in the trenches”. You were probably promoted because you were a/the top performer, so there is a likely gap. Fill it up just enough. Perfect moment to gain trust, boost excitement and show others how to do.
3. Celebrate the small execution wins. It’s pure dopamine when you’re “progressing through the shitstorm” and your manager tells everyone your own wins.
It seems pretty obvious but as most startups get their best “executioners” as managers, it’s easy to default into execution. Make every day overwellming, so that your team can go through the overwhelming marathon of building something new.