I forgot I was working in a startup

I’m lucky to work in a startup. I value transparent communication, flat corporate hierarchy and most of all, a sense of fulfilment that my work is recognised and of value to the organisation.

It’s only been a year since I first stepped through the doors of Tech in Asia and I already forgot I am working in a startup.

Recently, I have been out of sorts. I was not performing at my best creatively and I would struggle to communicate my thoughts. Now, I finally know what’s wrong.

For so long, I have been focusing on the wrong things. As the company grows, we naturally started to implement new management frameworks like OKRs and other peer review system. I had placed my focus on my monthly review score and my KPIs, and how I can reach them in the fastest way possible.

I focused on the corporate ladder and lost focus on the most important thing — my work, and how I can use whatever I have to help my company become better at what it does.

This is what it’s all about. When you work at a startup, you shouldn’t just be an employee — someone who sits on a pay check and does things within the job scope. When you work at a startup, you take on the vision of the startup and you become the mini-CEO in your area of expertise.

Scores, grades and KPIs measure quantitatively the value of every employee to the organisation and provides decent information for the management to hire or fire. But if the employee is lacking in the right motivation and mindset, these measures can distract the employee, gearing efforts and resources to be optimised for personal gains and not for the organisation.

The employee is not incentivised to explore, value-add and achieve more with any other skill sets that she might possess outside of her job scope.

That being said, it’s not the fault of the organisation. Every corporate organisation should have a certain system to measure and keep track of the growth of every employee.

It’s the mindset that every startup employee should have and remember that we are not here to climb the ladder and beat the high score; we are here to utilise all that is within us, take on the vision of the startup, and push the needle beyond our stated roles and responsibilities.


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