How to maintain employee engagement from a startup to a mature business

When a new business is in startup phase the atmosphere can be electric – the buzz of starting something new, the first customers, changing the world one line of code and one customer at a time. I have been there, and am now there again with this project and several others and loving it!  But this time I’ll have a way of knowing who is really connected with the project, and what to do if they aren’t quite there so I can maintain their engagement from start to finish.

When I co-founded PROJECTminder we had 4 staff who were all totally engaged, loved the project, worked their socks off and we moved at such a pace it was amazing. This team was not particularly well paid, there was no certainty that we were ‘going to make it’ – we were living in very turbulent times. But these guys were super committed and it was an amazing buzz.

We grew quickly from that core to a 30 man team and throughout the journey it felt like that initial buzz and found it hard to maintain employee engagement and it started to dwindle. I have a few thoughts on why this might have happened and what could have been done about it;

Our initial core employees (and some of the later recruits – you know who you are) knew what they were signing up for and were up for it. As we grew we recruited good people – but who were not from the same stable.

I don’t think they truly connected with our passion and vision. These guys did the job but were a bit 9-5 – they turned up, did what was expected and took the pay check at the end of the month. Fair enough, that is what they were contractually obliged to do. But as an entrepreneur you want to be surrounded by people who are engaged with you, your idea and your vision.

I am sure some of these people would have got on board properly and become engaged and motivated if I had been able to identify clearly where they were at and their level of engagement was. However I had no way of pinning a tail on that particular donkey.

Ever since I have been keeping an eye out for an answer, as I think this is a perennial problem for startups and mature businesses.

The new methodology we have developed allows people to attach a score to the level of engagement of the individuals in their team. For their managers we can then identify the specific actions they need to execute to improve that score – delivering an increase in output and performance.

We are planning to launch a beta product in a few months time.

It is early days with this project and I am keen to connect with anyone who has a view on this so drop me a line.

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