I work at one of the most vibrant innovation hubs in the world the iHub in Nairobi, Kenya.My role is setup in such a way that I am in constant communication with our community and I have picked up a number of issues that I would love you to avoid as a startup founder or people manager.
Top of my list is Listen to the entire team.
More often than not I have seen a startup replace one team member after another in a consistent unhealthy cycle. The odd thing is that usually the founder or a key member is problematic one and not the staff leaving of being asked to leave. In one startup i saw team frustration affect moral, productivity and some simply walking coming to me to vent about X person. This eventually lead to a high attrition rate and sadly it took almost 5 Months for the founders to realize where the issue was. You can rest assured he/she was fired. The happy ending here is the team is thriving now and even was considering bringing back some members who left. Happy endings are not always the norm and bringing back a healthy culture can be a challenge you do not want to face.
#2 Ignoring the Government
The government is watching you! If you overlook getting your paper work and ensuring that all the government regulations that come with being an employer are up to code, well, you are in hot soup if i can be archaic. In kenya the regulators literary walk in unannounced with a file on your company and its not full of pictures of unicorns. Never think your too small to get noticed and the penalties of non-compliance are steep. So don't cut corners and to comply. There's another side to this. Employees in some nations like Kenya have the regulations so that all employees can get access to basic health care. Skipping this also means your staff miss out on it affecting them and their productivity.
#3 Not hiring or firing right
It sounds pretty simple but the number of issues that come from not hiring and firing wrong are a legal stampede waiting to happen. Hiring your relatives for example. The challenges here can include, you making emotional decisions around them, the relative/ staff will also expect extra freedoms, They also may have communication challenges from fellow staff who feel the relative is part of management or cannot be trusted. This also opens and the struggles that come with poor communication that now have a front door into your business.
Every government has a requirement on the process of hiring staff. In my previous job as a HR account Manager I dealt with employers who felt they can simply walk into the office and send you packing. The company had 42 active cases against wrongful termination by Q2 of the financial year. No matter what the staff has done, always consult a HR professional before terminating any staff members employment.
People are the life of the organization and making the right choices with them will save you money, make you money and allow your startup to thrive. Don't wither in bad people decisions when you can thrive in great people decisions.