How To Get Your Startup Team Back On Track in 5 Steps


2020 has been an exhausting year in so many ways. Those of you who run startups know this all too well. Dealing with the challenges of the current pandemic, along with keeping a business afloat, is tremendously hard.
Trust us, we understand.

However, at, we’ve been able to stay positive and push forward by keeping our team energized, despite the uncertainty in the world. We thought it would be helpful to share tips on how you can re-invigorate your team and end the year strong. By finishing 2020 well, you will build positive momentum to carry you into the first part of 2021. 
On top of that, you will be able to offload some of the burden you carry and empower others to step up. You can’t afford to burn out now, which is why we recommend implementing some of the strategies below ASAP. Let’s dig in.

Recognize Your Team’s Hard Work
One of the best ways to boost your team’s spirit is to recognize their hard work. Fortunately, you can do this in many ways. What’s important is that you are open and transparent. Acknowledge that it’s been a difficult year and that you appreciate every person for sticking with you through the thick and thin. Don’t dismiss or minimize what your startup has had to go through to survive. 

Send out company-wide emails that highlight specific achievements and recognize individual employees who have been especially engaged. Host a meeting in which the only agenda item is to celebrate what you have accomplished. You could even schedule one-on-ones with every person to make sure they know you see their hard work. 

For workers who haven’t been as motivated, have honest conversations about what you are seeing. Allow them to articulate their concerns and work with them to set short-term goals to re-energize their spirits. Doing so will go a long way towards letting others know you are there for them, which is especially important at a time like this.

Gamify Mission-Critical or Boring Tasks
If performance across a few crucial areas is waning, think about how you can “gamify” your team’s efforts. In other words, incorporate elements of game design into your workplace that encourage people to reach higher in enjoyable, low-pressure ways.

For example, you can create a point-tracking system that encourages consistency by monitoring “streaks'' for certain behaviors completed within designated periods. Or, you could give out “badges” when people hit specific milestones and dole out surprise rewards for exceptional results. When your whole team crosses some performance threshold, cater a nice lunch, or take everyone out to dinner. 

If you go this route, you need to design a way to monitor progress and see how others are performing without explicitly encouraging competition (more on this in the next section). Through gamification, you can convert the mundane into the exciting and change how people approach their least favorite responsibilities. 

Promote Friendly Competition
Instead of or in addition to gamification, you could promote friendly competition. However, be careful about how you approach such schemes, as you may inadvertently create tension within your team. Experiment on a small scale, at least initially, until you know how to foster healthy competition. 

For example, design day-long competitive sprints where winners receive relatively inexpensive items (e.g., a single free coffee), and set up goals so that different people have the potential to win. If you want to expand the scope of your competitions, don’t let too much time lapse between rewards, as employees may lose interest. 

Closely monitor how your team responds to such competition. If you have a group of highly competitive individuals, this approach may work wonders for your startup.

Invest in Fun Swag
People love swag. Come up with a gift idea that creates visual cohesion across your team. For example, you could invest in matching pullovers or jackets that people would actually wear (don’t be afraid to share mock-ups before ordering!). You could also design t-shirts that feature a company-wide inside joke or buy everyone a unique coffee mug. Even the smallest of gestures can send a positive message that livens your team and lets them know you care about them. 

Furthermore, you could go above and beyond by investing in gifts with real monetary value. Consider getting your team members high-quality headphones, smart watches, or gift cards to a favorite local restaurant where they can take their families out for dinner. When finances are tight, this route can make a huge impact on morale. 

Take a Step Back to Re-energize
These are just a few examples of how you can re-engage your team amid an unprecedented year. To choose the best path for your startup, you need to pick your head up from the grind and take a second to breathe. Then, you can conduct a pulse check on your team. If morale and energy are low, try implementing a few of the strategies above. 

Best of luck!

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