Keeping team focus: easier said than done

As leaders of an early-stage startup it is our obligation to do everything we can to accomplish these 4 things:

  • Inspire everyone in the team towards a vision
  • Ensure everybody is actually working towards that vision
  • Unleash the creativity of every single member of the team
  • Keep team focus.

This is the second in a new series of monthly blog posts from Addapp’s co-founders. Each month we’ll discuss our challenges, successes and lessons learned as we grow Addapp. Check the first one here.

That last one ‘keeping team focus’ has been surprisingly easier said than done. We don’t claim we have mastered the other 3, but they’re certainly easier to track.

So, how do we, at Addapp, define team focus? We see it as “the seamless synchronization of tasks where each and every team member’s work is a timely contribution for the rest of the team”.

For example:

  • Is our product designer finding the right balance between improving the current product and working on new features?
  • Is the software engineer finding the sweet spot between optimising for scalability and refining our current integrations?
  • Is the head of growth finding enough time to focus on the daily sign ups and acquisition as well as working on larger scale growth initiatives?

I hope you get the message. Organizing and keeping focus is tough, really tough.

How do we deal with it at the moment?

There are three key ways we’re currently trying to keep focus within the team.

1. We talk all the time.

Despite being completely remote (Kouris is based in San Francisco, Andreas is based in Belgium), we ensure we have constant and direct communication on everything.

We do have 2 times a week where we talk extensively with a pre-defined & dynamic agenda but the most important communication for keeping the team focus is happening out of these predefined times.

2. What am I busy with today?

This is a question everybody in the team answers every single day and posts it on our main Slack channel.

In this way everybody in the team, and importantly us as co-founders, know what each team member is busy with on each day. This also allows us to ensure that everyone is focused on the most important tasks at that particular time.

Example Slack chat

This update is only short; one or two lines is usually enough. We don’t want the team to think about it too much and ask them to simply write what they’re going to do on that single day. That goes for us as well, of course.

3. Take action now

The moment we see that somebody from the team is not focusing on the right priorities we tackle it immediately. One of us will talk with the team member and usually the miss-focus is due to a small communication error somewhere along the lines — you’d be surprised how much miscommunication might be taking place.

What we’ve found is that, actually the moment you think you’ve nailed down team communication is probably the moment your team is completely lost is. And I’m not sure there is such a thing ‘perfect communication’.

We would love to hear your opinion on how your startup or company keeps team focus. Tweet us @Addappio and let us know.

Addapp updates this month:

  • We’ve released two updates to our app in the app store
  • 2 people joined the team
  • Tested 3 new insight concepts with users. Check them here, here, and here. You can give us feedback by joining our closed Facebook group.

Thanks for reading,
Kouris & Andreas

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