Mentors Monday with: Wolfgang von Geramb

#team #startup #accelerator #work

Every milestone reached by a company is the result of a solid teamwork.

Keeping a good flow and creating synergy, however, it’s not an easy task (and that’s true for big, established companies as well as for early-stage startups). We’ve spoken with our mentor, Wolfgang von Geramb, about how great teams create great results through rhythm, clarity, and trust. Here are five pieces of advice:

1 — Trust seems to be the key to ensure a good dynamic among team members. What is the best approach to address trust issues, whenever they come up?

Clarity creates trust. If I’m clear about what my tasks are, then I know what my role is and I know how I can make decisions.

Frustration comes from the fact that people are driven by different values: some are more detailed, some are more conceptual. Conflict arrives when they talk about the same topic, but they don’t mean the same thing.

You need to think of an organization as a prototype. You set up rules, rhythm, strategies and need to give time to see how it goes. The problem is that most companies don’t want to talk about themselves, about their principles. They think is unnecessary. A startup that doesn’t take user feedback valuable has a problem with the market. A company that doesn’t take employees or members seriously will have a problem of organization. It’s the same principle.

In this sense, startups have a great advantage towards other companies, because startups are trained to listen to users and to the market. That is why startups will learn to listen to themselves much easier because it’s the same principle.

“A startup that doesn’t take user feedback valuable has a problem with the market. A company that doesn’t take employees or members seriously will have a problem of organization. It’s the same principle.”

2 — Every member of a team has a unique set of skills. How can company and startup founders stimulate these different talents and use them to get great results?

You need to make these skills visible. How? By asking people what do they need in order to be able to give their best at work. Each one defines his/her own needs. So you need to give them a safe space to say it.

And then you need to define what are the company’s needs and what each one in the team can do to make it work in the best way. You create rituals within the team. And if the company grows, you can set up small teams, with their own rituals.

3 — Having clearly defined roles within a company sounds like the right way to go. However, this can be tricky for early stage startups, as founders often have to carry multiple roles. How to find the balance between being able to multitask and making sure to have a set position?

For early stage startups, it’s too early to talk about roles. Everybody does everything. So you need to establish a rhythm. They need to set up decision-making rules and rituals, set up a strategy and stick to it. Once they are more mature then you can define roles.

4 — Talking about rhythm, you’ve stated that rhythm is ”the biggest game changer” to make things in the company move on. How do companies find this rhythm?

Rhythm means that you should have fixed meetings. Every week, every month and quarterly strategy meetings. You need to create a space for the team to share and talk about ongoing issues.

5 — Nowadays we have seen companies adopting a less hierarchical structure within the team. How can leadership roles be set up in this horizontal structure?

In non-hierarchical teams, I often use the “creative authorship” approach.

In every team, there is always someone who are authors on a topic. They are the experts on a topic, they have the vision of where something is headed. It’s not about hierarchy, but about roles.

For small teams, one strategy can be to define who are the “authors” in each topic (e.g. technology, relations, partnership…) and designate roles. The author role can be even a temporary one, that can be discussed at the end of a certain period.

BIG thank you, Wolfgang, for the valuable insights!

⚠️ ️Interesting in digging deeper into the topic?

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