How Startups Can Forge the Right Relationships

by 

Josh Lowy

Blog Post Stock Image to support story

How can startups ensure their success? What's the secret to stand out from the crowd? Forge the right relationships. Startups that cultivate transparency and trust among their team members and clients not only survive — they thrive.

The 'Need to Know' Status Quo Is Hurting How You Grow

The need-to-know basis is a time-honored tradition. But it only creates barriers that impede progress and stunt relationships. Like most traditions, the only way to improve this is to break it.

Transparency can vastly improve your team's relationships and performance. Per a recent McKinsey study, almost 80% of executives agreed that open communication is crucial for growth. Over 80% of employees wanted information to be more accessible. 50% of employees even said that doing this had a profound positive impact on their productivity.

Open communication is necessary to stay in sync; it's often the difference between success and failure. Transparency breaks down your information silos and makes your team ready to handle any challenges. You drastically increase your chances of succeeding when everyone's on the same page.

Better Transparency = Better Relationships = Better Results

It really is as simple as the above equation. Regardless of the ever-evolving landscape of your startup's industry, information-sharing is always objectively rewarded with an array of benefits.

Improved Engagement and Alignment

Sharing what you're working on, who you're talking to, and what challenges you're confronting are all key to tapping into transparency. It causes the following cascade effect:

Better trust -> Better relationships -> Better engagement -> Better alignment -> Better results

Establishing common ground results in common understanding. Be transparent by sharing information and asking for input. This promotes trust and loyalty in your relationships. It also helps each member know how their piece of the puzzle contributes to the greater plan. In turn, they'll care more about the outcome.

Enhanced Customer Empathy

The majority of your company probably doesn't interact with your customers. But you depend on this same majority to deliver stellar products to them.

Sharing your clients' pain points and feedback give your team an unparalleled viewpoint. It lets them make better decisions and do the work that helps your consumers the most.

Expanded Perspectives Create New Solutions

A 2015 McKinsey study found diverse workforces make companies perform better financially. Another survey discovered 81% of founders believe diversity enhanced innovation, while 67% said it immensely improved problem-solving. Simply put, pigeonholing based on specialization doesn't do your startup any good.

Transparency causes cross-pollination which spurs creative problem-solving. At Hugo, it's one of our most valuable strategies. It's why we emphasize transparency in our meeting note platform — it results in better outcomes. Diversify your investment in your team. Take their different perspectives into account. You'll be surprised at the insight they have to offer.

Extending Your External Network

Maybe you can't find a great copywriter to get your message across properly. Luckily, one of your developers knows just the right person from a previous company.

Being transparent in your internal and external relationships often yields unforeseen benefits through your extended network. By opening up about current events and challenges, you greatly increase the possibility of finding a solution.

Principles to Tap Into Transparency's Potential

Here are some surefire ways to strengthen your relationships and instill transparency in your culture.

Be an Open Book

Strive to be transparent with your team, investors, and customers. Being closed off keeps your relationships constrained.

It all starts with you. You set the tone for your team to follow. Keep the dialogue open to build mutual trust and respect.

Emphasize What Matters

Your values and objectives tell your employees what your startup is all about and what's expected of them. This goes back to the need-to-know principle; companies often only reveal what steps they see as relevant to that worker. There's no faster way to kill motivation.

Don't just tape your goals to the fridge. Be vocal about your company's core values and main focus areas. It goes a long way towards aligning, engaging, and inspiring your team.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

How do you face challenges? Don't just turn to your team members and yell "fix it." That's being a boss, not a leader. And nobody wants to work for or follow a boss.

If your business is facing a problem, pull up your sleeves and tackle it with your team. Hold a discussion to hear all perspectives on the issue. Talk about how to solve each roadblock. Get in the thick of it with your team. That's when they'll actually feel like a team.

Hopefully, you've found some key takeaways here to help you recalibrate your relationships and take your startup one step closer to success. Remember, forging the right relationships takes time and the right tools. Check out how we implement team transparency ‘off the shelf’ with Hugo and use meeting notes to connect teams.