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Why Do Founders Think That Only They Work Hard?


by Roza Szafranek, author of “Culturivy: The Power of Changing a Workplace

When founders start building a team, scale is usually the main goal. They know that they are not able to do everything themselves, and at the same time, they want the standards that define their organization to be maintained or even elevated. This results in a number of problems, including taking the influence of people away, decreasing empowerment, and creating a dependence on the founder for even the smallest decision. The ability to let go of micromanagement where necessary is an absolute key skill in the development stage of the company.

Of course, not everything will be done the way the founder would have imagined it. It is no different with relationships with people. It is also no different from establishing relationships with strategic people in the organization, keeping the rhythm of the company, and nurturing the culture of internal and external communication.

How difficult is it for a founder to recognize that not everyone has to be like them?

There are many beliefs about how difficult it is for a founder to get the first people in the company onboarded, aligned, and dedicated, including new employees who are experts in the tasks the founder has been doing alone. The main problem is knowing the context and accessing information. The second most important problem is the ability to see from a distance. Many founders often face the problem: “What are they working on? I come to a meeting and ask three questions, and my super experienced team does not know the answer for two of them!” This is because the founder has the context of the entire organization, including the product, technology, marketing, sales, HR, and other industry-specific heads and managers of the teams. This should not arouse anger, confusion, or objection in the founder. It should strengthen the division of tasks and responsibilities appropriate for roles: the area manager deals with the performance of a given task, requiring specialized competencies and focus on a specific area, and the founder adds the necessary context to the rest of the organization.

Founders often think that only they work a lot, work hard, and respond adequately to the situation. At the initial stage of the organization’s development, they are certainly involved in most of the company’s development. However, over time, they should be able to delegate as much as possible to their employees. When suggested, often the answer of the founder is: “I don’t have the right people to do this.” Of course, if the founder expects all employees to behave like them, with the same approach, commitment, and dedication to the development of the company, it is understandable that the employees will fail. The essence of the problem, however, lies in good management – that is, managing the talent, work, and time of your employees in such a way that they are adequately involved but not in a high number of work hours. Expecting others to be in the founders’ shoes should absolutely be changed as soon as possible.

Another mistake that founders often make is checking and controlling their employees’ working time. In the era of shortening the working week, managing completed tasks and not the time spent at the desk, it does not make sense to settle accounts for the longest stay in the office or at home in front of the computer. It is exactly like accounting for how long public transport takes and not whether it will take us to the right destination. It’s not about time; it’s about results.

Why employees shouldn’t work as much as the founder does

Founders often confuse the time devoted to work with a commitment to work, thinking that the more someone is able to spend for the company, the more they care. But what if, while working with weak concentration and fatigue, the employee is not able to properly perform their duties? What if the employee prioritizes incorrectly? What if the employee is unable to make the right decisions because they do not have the ability to zoom out to see from a distance and understand the wider context?


*Excerpted with permission from “Culturivy: The Power of Changing a Workplace” by Roza Szafranek


Roza Szafranek, author of “Culturivy: The Power of Changing a Workplace“, is Founder & CEO of HR Hints and Owner & CEO of Culturivy. Roza is an HR expert with psychological and managerial experience, that has led tech companies from early startup through exit. She is a mentor at 1871 Chicago, P33, TechRise, mHUB Chicago, Founder Institute and InCredibles, Sebastian Kulczyk’s mentoring program.