Psychology is a very interesting subject for people who like to dwell into the unknown, but if you read the Wikipedia definition it would sound just the opposite.
“Psychology is the study of behaviour and mind, embracing all aspects of conscious and unconscious experience as well as thought.”
To be very simple, it is the study of how people behave in various situations that happen to them or people around them. Startups are something similar, they are very live, and their behaviour and thinking make up to a lot of their efforts either worthwhile or unnecessary. Startups are made up of people only like any other organisations, so the individual psychology should match with the group psychology to attain the success they desire or deserve.
Let us take a look at the people who are a part of a startup ad let us choose a top-down approach. Of course in a startup it is known to not have a sculpted hierarchy, so the people could just be made into groups just for the sake of my laziness.
They are the supermos of a startup; they found and formed the company with their own vision and aspirations. These days it is very common to see the founders to be very down to earth by taking part in every small operation that is undertaken by their “friends” (P.S. they don’t like to use employees).
Most of the present founders of startups are mostly young people who have had enough of the hierarchy taking over their efforts and work and decide to start something somewhere where their own work is seen clearly and can help people who think like them to achieve the same.
Taking risks should become synonymous with their job profile once you enter the startup hemisphere, a need for achievement must become their blood flow so that it can be donated to others around them to make their company a success.
Sam Altman founder of Y combinatory, the company that seeds many such startups said something very simple yet powerful which goes something like this,
“The most impressive people I know spent their time with their head down getting shit done for a long, long time.”
Founders of startups should have such qualities in them, they must not think that they are the boss and act like everyone below them must do the work. As the company grows and you start to get more people around you, where you may not be able to keep up with everything and taking a back seat would be more effective but initially it is always better to poke your nose at everything that goes around to make sure that everything is going on in the way you want it to happen.
But that does not mean that only what you want is right, it is always good to ask around and have as much discussions necessary to make their suggestions help to achieve the aspirations of the whole company.
In most of the startups, these experienced engineers take up most of the responsibilities, and that is not something wrong. After a couple of projects they understand the work, culture to work with and visions of the founders easier than the beginners under them. That is why they have the experience; they work in very close quarters with both the founders and the engineers to make sure none of the work is lost in translation.
The best words that would describe the methodology of working of a senior engineer is given by Pony Ma, the man behind Tencent,
“Think of yourself as an insensitive, nitpicking, irritable fool to use the product.”
Though this would sound insane and even a little hurtful to the normal engineers, the world out there is all of that. So by taking care of the product in an insensitive and nitpicking manner must be the most important job for a senior engineer so that the product is perfect in the first go and becomes a runaway success.
One of the very many necessary qualities in a senior engineer is determination, persistence, high energy but the most important of all is patience, they must be patient with the insubordinate engineers under them and the result expecting bosses above them.
They must have the smartness to handle both of them, get the work done by their team in a satisfactorily manner the bosses expect them to be.
In the words of a senior engineer (who unfortunately decided to go anonymous) himself
“In complex projects, there are usually a number of stakeholders. In any project, the designers, product managers, operations engineers, developers, and business development folks all have goals and perspectives, and mature engineers realize that those goals and views may be different. They understand this so that they can navigate effectively in the work that they do. Being empathetic in this sense means having the ability to view the project from another person’s perspective and to take that into consideration into your own work.
Goal conflicts are inherent in all engineering work, and complaining about them (instead of embracing them as requirements for success) is a sign of a less mature engineer.”
The same gentleman also came up with the ten commandments that he called must be in the heart of every senior engineer,
Understand and accept that you will make mistakes.
You are not the work you do.
No matter how much “karate” you know, someone else will always know more.
Don’t redo someone else’s work without their consultation.
Treat people who know less than you with respect, deference, and patience.
The only constant in the world is change. Be open to it and accept it with a smile.
The only true authority stems from knowledge, not from position.
Fight for what you believe, but gracefully accept defeat.
Don’t be “the person in the corner.”
Critique the work instead of people – be kind to the person, not to the work he/she does.[/box]
These guys make the whole operation possible by being the hands and legs of the system. But remember, you are not the brains of the organisation you will have to agree to some of the changes that are being made even if it makes no sense to you.
Accept the changes and carry on, but you will be given a chance to speak your mind, just remember to make your voice heard during then. Even if your words go unheeded at least you will have the satisfaction of speaking your heart out.
Some effective qualities that would make your startup life much fruitful would be as follows:
Do not be afraid to take up more responsibility: You will be given as much responsibility as you can handle. Do it to the best as you can to just make a point to yourself. You may have to spend some more time in the office than using the money you make for parties or just a movie but you will have the satisfaction of doing something better than just being a mushroom in a forest like your friends.
Be a little different: You will be given a different job every time, embrace it and be the person who can adapt to any situation. That would not just cement your place here but also help you in the long run.
Listen to your boss carefully: They are not the derivatives of the demons of hell; they are the just people with bigger responsibilities than you. Listen to them, every word they say will have a meaning try to understand that. If you cannot ask them, a good boss would never discourage that and if you are in a startup he/she would like to know that you are eager to be a part of the mission.
Take up successes and failures equally: Well, to be honest take your failures more important than your successes, they teach you more. But successes tell you what you did right and failures tell you what you did wrong. Being in a startup has a bigger advantage of everyone seeing your success and failure with more clarity than in a corporate where it can be easily hid in a door and between two people. But use it to your full advantage; motivate yourself to work towards success than making a mistake. *wink*
Try to be stingy: Working at startup probably means that money is tight. Whether you’ve been showered with investor love or not; the company will always think of ways to do more with less. You may not be working with 100% technical content many times and might just be thinking to find a way to fit nine people around an eight person table (hint: extra chair). This stinginess will slowly move towards your personal life and will be thinking of making more out of what you have rather than fighting to your boss about a raise. You’ll find happiness in being part of a team that is trying to make other people’s lives easier, more fun, and more manageable. In the startup world, it’s all about creating more and consuming less.
Try to understand terms like hardship, responsibility and self sustainability: Working in a startup means you are responsible solely for your own success and failures so be responsible and work with the mentality to win everything you work on. You may be a purely technical person but it would not hurt to look into a bit of business development. Who knows you could bring a client to your business and help grow it. Why to lose such a chance? Be always ready to diversify in a startup, you will never know what may come when.
Travis Kalanick the visionary behind Uber said it the best possible way for any startup – “Fear is the disease. Hustle is the antidote.”
Of course as a star trek fan my personal favourite for any startup to become a success is of course – “To boldly go where no man has gone before”