#Aryxe Talks: Startup leadership and team management in 2022
5 min read
5 min read
by Teodora Atanasova & Aleksandra Stamatovic
Startups are different in many ways from any other business, and their success is heavily rooted in the level of motivation and dedication of the employees. It is hard to stay afloat if everyone isn’t on the same page. Managing talent in a startup can quickly become a nightmare unless you have experienced managers who will keep the balance between satisfying the client, the team members, and the higher-ups. Highly experienced managers are essential to make things work in the complex environment that a startup usually is. This is an excellent leeway to introduce you to one of our very own, Manuela Georgiew, who’s been with Aryxe for many years now and can share her two cents on how to keep the machine running. I had a chance to interview Manuela on this topic and would like to share her insights and advice on leadership and team management in startup environments – check out our conversation below!
Manuela, you’ve been a Manager for quite a while now, so could you share your thoughts on the critical features of a good leader?
In my opinion, a good leader is someone who continuously learns and grows from experience. There are 3 key features here I believe; being receptive to the feedback from the team, being passionate about the job itself and being equally as passionate about spending time with the people you work with.
In a startup, for instance, you have this great opportunity to get to know many different areas in a short time, which helps you understand the business of your company inside out. The ability to share that knowledge is essential.
At the same time, you usually work with various age groups, people with different cultural backgrounds who speak different languages and have their own ways of doing things. So you need to find a way to bridge the gaps. And, ideally, figure out how to make all these differences work in your favor. The ability to do this is a vital feature for a Manager in charge of talent in a startup.
What about helping the team progress and grow? Do you have any tips there?
Well, I am a firm believer in learning from mistakes. Mistakes are bound to happen, and when they do, we should see it as a learning opportunity, a chance to do things differently the next time.
In my opinion, when something goes wrong, it is essential to find a reason why it happened and what could have been done to steer the situation in another direction instead. Once we get to the bottom line of what caused the problem, we will know how to handle the situation differently in the future.
Transparency in decision-making is another important thing you ought to keep in mind as a Manager. I try to communicate openly with the team and make them understand that we will achieve better results if we work together. Having open communication will allow everyone to know exactly what is being asked of them, how they can improve, and what they are expected to bring to the table – which will essentially help them perform better, gain confidence, and build on working independently and self-sufficiently.
What’s your idea of a Managers’ role in a team?
A Manager is someone who understands the dynamic of a team. Someone who knows when to push and when to let go. Being close by and giving someone room to breathe is equally important. Picking up on cues like that will make your job easier and more efficient. I believe the manager’s responsibility is to ensure team growth. To get there, one must understand every individual who makes this team, their strengths and weaknesses, and the best management style they need to perform consistently.
Do you have any thoughts on servant leadership?
I think it is a valuable working concept, most of all for senior team members. However, as I mentioned earlier, none of the team members can be the same, so you need to tailor your leadership style to get the best out of them. A junior team member will always need more hand-holding than someone who’s been on the job for many years.
For instance, working with a senior team will mean that you don’t necessarily need to explain to them what needs to be done. Instead, your role with seniors comes down to offering help and asking them how you could improve their daily workflow.
If you are dealing with trainees, on the other hand, or resources with limited or no work experience, the situation naturally changes. Giving them responsibilities and walking away is out of the question. Instead, they will need attention, hand-holding, and close supervision. And then what I normally do with young talent is carefully and steadily increase the responsibility I give to them. Then I assess how they are handling the situation and fine-tune my behavior based on this interaction to allow for progress to slowly but surely take place.
Where do you see the biggest challenges in Client Service Management nowadays?
It’s an old challenge – keeping the client satisfied with the service and happy with the results. We mainly spoke about team growth today, but it is also imperative to simultaneously ensure client and partner growth. Businesses change quickly, and marketing strategies need to keep up. Thus the biggest challenge is to stay on top of the shifts and know exactly how to keep the client satisfied.