There’s a lot of pressure in Startup Company Culture to increase your output — but when input is already high, how can you up your game without depleting your energy?
Contrary to what you might believe, being high performing is not necessarily about working harder, it truly is about working smarter. So here are four ways you can work smarter to improve your performance in a startup environment.
Understand Your Professional Brand
You might think your professional brand is only worth working on when you’re looking for a job. How do you describe yourself to hiring managers, how do you explain what you do? But your brand extends far past the hiring process. It’s who you are on the job too.
A strong brand is your guide to action. Which projects complement that brand? What sort of contributions should you make based on that brand? What sort of questions and items should you consider based on your brand?
Get Organized — All Over
I’m not telling you to set up your workspace comfortably (but also I am). Organization goes beyond your desk, though. Is your computer organized? Your cloud drive? Your email inbox? Most importantly, how organized is your mind?
I keep a steady routine in the morning (we all have routines, even if you’re not the 5am yoga person). I keep a work journal because some things just need to be written down. I utilize programs like Trello, Asana and Hootsuite to organize projects and manage my time. Each task and challenge I face calls for it’s own solution and soon that set of solutions becomes my strategy. You will be surprised how many things hold you back and suck up your time. Once you get organized you reclaim hours in a day — and you can use those hours to do more stuff.
Perhaps the most nerve-wracking part of increasing performance is doing it in front of other people. But what good are your accomplishments if no one knows about them? Visibility not only puts the spotlight on you, it challenges you and holds you accountable. If you miss a deadline on a project that was all your own — you might not be as affected as you would if you shared the project with 3 other people who were relying on you.
Likewise, teamwork, collaboration and public facing projects help you learn. You’ll be asked questions and thrown ideas you never would have thought about on your own, thus making you a better professional.
For those of us with startup tenure — we know how hard this can be. Startup culture demands you’re able to multi-task and have your hand in many plates. But when it comes to building your brand and your portfolio, keep your focus narrowed in on things that elevate and serve you. Do your job fully and do it well — but don’t lose sight of your personal goals while joining the good fight for the company.
Assume no one is going to walk up to you and ask “What do you want?” You have to keep your eye on your own prize while maintaining an investment in the larger goal.
Though startup companies can be hard to navigate — especially in their early stages, you can still reach your goals and carve out professional development for yourself. The true test of a self-starter is making waves in the storm that is Startup environments.