Working at a startup is worlds different from a corporate job. As your team navigates the uncharted waters of industry disruption in a bootstrapped-vessel, with big dreams and a small bank account, the expectations of your supervisor has may seem unrealistic at times. Structures of support might not yet be in place, and resources scarce. And yet, you face higher scrutiny because the stakes are higher.
Most of these pressures aren’t solved by possessing a single technical skill. In fact, much of what separates a good startup employee and a great one comes down to emotional intelligence. Here are seven ways to impress your boss at a startup:
Make them irrelevant
As the company grows, even the broadest role will become more specialized in time. Your manager wants to see you own responsibilities and run with them. This frees up their time to think about the bigger picture while advancing you professionally. What are you doing to take on more and see your skills point upward?
Your boss might not be the most experienced manager, or their management cycles may be diluted by having to execute themselves. Be allies in your growth. Share in the responsibility of managing you by communicating what you need. Do you want to discuss your performance, or future with the company? Initiate the conversation yourself.
No one likes it when someone drops a problem in their lap, expecting them to do the work. The counterexample to this is the person who won’t address challenges until they become catastrophes. Make sure you are neither of these people.
Grow yourself and others
Working at a startup, your learning curve is bound to be formidable, and the needs of the company constantly in flux. At Startup Institute, this one is a must—commit to your own growth and catalyze this in others.
Adapt easily to change
The concept of wearing multiple hats doesn’t always mean doing so concurrently. Over time, changes in team, product roadmap, or external circumstances will change your role. Your ability to adapt and remain high-impact through different organizational structures and industry landscapes will have a direct correlation with how long you last at a startup.
Be optimistic and audacious
On the roller coaster ride of startups, do you clench your eyes shut and beg it to end safely, or do you throw your hands up in the air, channelling the fear into courage? Startup work is challenging and risky, and often an uphill climb. Maintaining your positivity and can-do attitude is key to culture and success.
Growth only occurs under stress, and the interpersonal version of stress is conflict. It’s unavoidable in startups, but how well you embrace and harness conflict to resolution and greater outcomes make all the difference.
Startup work is not for the faint-of-heart. It takes true dedication, initiative, and passion to meet the expectations that your company leadership has of you. But then again, if you really are cut-out for it, these are probably not far-off from the expectations you have of yourself.
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