By Alexandru Stan, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Tekpon, a one-stop platform for all software needs.
Many people or CEOs only talk about the business, their product or how to get more revenue. Still, few are asking questions about the people working for the product and getting that revenue. When working with people, you must understand that you’re also working with something fragile—a human—that can break into many pieces if you’re not paying attention to their needs, especially when building a startup.
Because you have so many stages until the final product, your finances may be limited, and the people you have on your team may eventually reach their mental limit.
Building a startup is not easy, especially when you have limited resources. And at some point, both you as a CEO and your team may face some big changes, and you may find yourself in the position of completely changing the strategy of the business.
Changes are not easy for some people, and you’ll have to know how to deal with them. I know that people are talking worldwide about mental health, and many big companies offer alternatives and support for those in need. We are also facing a new term everywhere: burnout.
Your team’s mental health is the key to success or failure.
In our startup, my team is not only working with their minds but also with their emotions. And just like many other things, these are not unlimited resources. After many changes in our startup, I noticed that my team was not facing changes the same way I do. Some business people will see them as a liability, but I saw them as the key to success or a direct failure if I didn’t do something for them.
Due to the increasing work and changes, people may come to an endpoint in their ability to function and focus. What are the signs?
• Tired all the time. You may be able to see it on their faces.
• Self-doubt. They may have trouble finding solutions and lack confidence.
• Feeling overwhelmed. Every task you give them may feel like a burden.
• Always negative and anxious. You may find they have a defensive attitude toward any new ideas.
And these are some of the signs that triggered me as a CEO. Thus, there is not only a dead valley for your startup, but you may also face a burnout stage with your team. For some people, this is a serious problem, and we as leaders must treat it as seriously as we can.
How can you improve your team’s mental health?
If you pay attention to your team, the first step is done. Now, you must understand what causes them to reach burnout and meet their needs.
1. Give them a break.
If you’re going to change your business, take a break and a step back. Let them assimilate all the changes without having to think about the solutions. I know we live in a capitalist world, and you’re losing money every minute or hour of not working. But better to lose some money than a group of great people.
2. Find the stress factor.
Find what causes them so much stress that they cannot function anymore and try to find a solution. Do they need some days off without hearing the word “work”? Please give it to them. Maybe a vacation or just some days at home doing nothing or resting. It’s up to them. Nowadays, stress can lead to many other health problems. So help them improve their personal and work life.
3. Set some boundaries.
When you’re building a startup, all of your time is centered on work. You have to work constantly to build a final product from one idea. Yet, sometimes you must let it go and understand that your team will not work as much as you as a CEO. Thus, please don’t talk with them all the time about work. Don’t let them work during weekends; encourage them to do other activities that can free their mind and help them relax.
These are only some temporary solutions. You’ll have to find something together that will work for the long term. You could lose everything if you lose them in the most important moments of your startup or business. Don’t get comfortable in the idea that you can replace people easily. Yes, you can. You can always find greater professionals than the people on your team, but you would likely still encounter the same problem. You need to get to the root of the issue.
I know that many founders are also dealing with burnout, not only with their teams, and I think it’s important to stop putting a label on people who are going through some emotional changes. But, more than that, we need to improve our team’s mental health as leaders of a business.
I don’t think burnout can be avoided nowadays, whether you have a startup or a grown business. But I think we can make some temporary decisions and help our teams accept what they are going through and overcome that period.