As CEO/founder, how do you make sure your employees feel supported? - SmartBrief

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As CEO/founder, how do you make sure your employees feel supported?

5 min read


The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and e-mail lessons. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

Q. Running a business is stressful — and it’s easy to lose sight of how your stress level impacts your team. As CEO/founder, how do you make sure your employees feel supported?

1. Have weekly Wednesday meetings

We have weekly meetings to wrap things up on our Friday, which is Wednesday. We get our ducks in a row over pizza and tater tots at a locally owned restaurant that we all enjoy. We go around the table and talk about our individual projects, how they relate to one another and how we can help one another to optimize our client experience. — Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

2. Order a team lunch

Every Thursday, we order lunch in from any of the many restaurants in San Francisco’s SoMa district. We each say what we’re working on, and we talk about team-wide initiatives that span weeks, not days.
It’s a great opportunity for everyone to catch up. In between those meetings my co-founder and I make it a point to take employees out for one-on-one coffees. — Ryan Buckley, Scripted Inc.

3. Lead by example

One of the most important things you do as a founder is lead by example. Nobody gets involved in a startup if they are allergic to work (or if they do, they don’t last long). The best thing you can do to support your employees is show them that, as hard as they are working, you are working even harder. That way, you push each other to make the best product possible. — Danny Boice, Speek

4. Have one-on-ones

All employees at our company have weekly one-on-ones with their managers. The managers ask: “Is there anything I can do to make your work easier and more enjoyable?” This question goes a long way towards making sure employees feel supported and making sure that managers have a good sense of employee engagement. — Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Test Prep

5. Set up a work-free happy hour

Founders often forget that the personal lives of their employees affect how they work, their mindset and their mood in the office. Every three months, my co-founder and I try to set up a work-free happy hour or lunch to hear more about how life outside of the office is going for our employees. Feeling supported is important, and taking the time to see the full picture is the fastest way to get there. — Kim Kaupe, ‘ZinePak

6. Be in the trenches with your team

I believe a strong leader should be in the trenches with his team. If my developer is going to be up all night working on code, then I feel as though it’s my duty to stay up with him and show support while doing my own work. When it comes to sales calls, I’m not too important to pick up the phone every now and then. Plus, it’s great to understand all the ins and outs of your organization. — Andy Karuza, brandbuddee

7. Check in with them daily

We have daily meetings in which we check in with everyone about their individual goals, and ask them to share good news or something they might be excited about. One of these things always has to be personal so that we can all share in their great news. When one of us lands the apartment they always wanted, or got a new puppy, we all bask in the good news. I think it brings us closer. — Rob Emrich, PaeDae

8. Jump in next to them

I sit right in the trenches of my sales team, fielding calls and taking my own. Being right next to my employees in the mix makes me accessible and human. Being available is often half the battle for being tapped into the culture, so my philosophy is to just jump into the middle of it. — Matt Ehrlichman, Porch

9. Be transparent

Digital technology has brought transparency to interactions between brands and consumers, so why can’t it be the same for founders and employees? We are all transparent and share team goals, priorities and schedules whether we are in the office or working remotely. This not only boosts productivity, but it gives our team confidence and security to know what’s happening behind the scenes. — Lauren Perkins, Perks Consulting

10. Take the team out

Take the team out for a beer every few weeks. Social events take the edge off, and it shows your team a different side of you than they would see in the office. It’s a great opportunity to have discussions about their hobbies, family or other issues they’re facing at home. Just showing them you care, and asking about their lives, goes a long way in creating a supportive workplace. — David Adelman, Reel Tributes and ReelGenie