7 Strategies to Deal with Difficult Personalities During Start-Up
There are 3 types of personalities you have to face during the beginning stage of all start-ups – the investor, the employees, and the yet-to-be/existing customers.
Considering that most of the start-ups are being conceived by youngsters in their final years of college or early years of career, they will find it very difficult handling difficult personalities belonging to these 3 categories.
The more experienced ones will know how to tackle them better which makes competition in all these fronts very difficult.
So here’s an account of 7 strategies to deal with difficult investors, employees, and customers:
1) Dealing with Difficult Investors
Start-ups cannot do without investors. They bring in the ‘moolah’ or the funding for the capital and infrastructure which forms the very base of the firm. So when you are approaching any investor, be prepared with these:
- Go prepared with the project plan and a brief about what you plan to do within the first year of starting up. Be prepared to answer in detail about the plan. The deeper your insight is the better chances you have. Do not get overboard with the forecasts. They have done this much before you.
- Discuss to the point about the proposal. You can keep your operational details undisclosed.
- A tough investor who asks a lot of questions is a good sign since they are probably interested in the deal and want to test your potential with the debate. So be polite and listen to them. Try to answer the queries without getting irritated. In case, you are unable to answer some queries, ask for a day’s time and get back with the answer. You will stand a better chance if you manage to impress with your answers.
- One question an interested investor will ask is how it will benefit the investor. So before you meet the investor, study well about his requirements or industry and try to map it with your start-up.
- If the investor in instead pointing at the various faults you have in the project, instead of denying it blankly, you must check on their point of view. They are more experienced than you are and hence, you can definitely check out the facts and get back to them with the clarifications. If you prove to be right, you stand a better chance to impress them. If you are wrong, you learn something which you can correct and continue.
- Be ready to answer the questions on the financials. Go with the printed version and understand whatever is printed on it.
- Do not provide false information. They can and will cross-check the information you provide.
2) Dealing with Difficult Employees
With start-ups, getting the right employees can be another issue. You can’t afford an experienced employee who will be too costly for you. At the same time, you cannot compromise on the quality of work which an inexperienced employee may not be able to commit.
It is hence important to manage your employees tactfully since you will be in big trouble if a resourceful employee quits just as you are striking a deal with an investor. Here are some tips on how to manage difficult employees at work:
- If you are planning to employ experienced employees, make sure that the terms and conditions are well-discussed with them. Draw the lines clearly but create an amiable working ambiance to make sure they stay inspired and productive.
- Use technology to keep track of work schedules and progress.
- Conduct at least weekly performance audits since in a start-up a lot of things may be happening, and the weekly wrap-ups make sure you, as the founder or co-founder, have a good idea about the developments.
- If the experienced one is in charge of a team, set milestones and review them periodically. If the progress is good, show your appreciation by way of a party or incentives or both. This will keep the entire team motivated.
- Keep all the works well-documented. Make sure you receive daily updates on mails on the work done. This will make sure that even if one employee leaves or is on leave, you have everything documented from where the next person can take over.
- Intervene whenever you expect or incur a problem. Do not wait for it to escalate to the next level making things worse to handle or that it affects the other employees too.
- When you find personal issues intervening professional progress, take it with the employees directly and immediately. A simple pep-talk may be enough to get things back to work if, in the initial stages.
3) Dealing with difficult Customers
You cannot afford to miff with a customer, however, difficult he or she may get on your nerves for no reason of yours. So the only way to handle a customer is to manage things amicably. Listen, apologize, offer a solution and negotiate – these are the very first steps any manager should adopt with any customer. These are some other ways you can adopt for managing a difficult customer:
- Have a lot of patience dealing with any customer. Even if the customer is wrong, deal with him patiently. If you feel that you cannot handle it in any other way, apologize and ask him politely to take it up with your seniors.
- If you accept what the customer says initially, it will calm down the rage quite a lot. Once your customer seems to be settling down, apologize for whatever has happened and try to explain calmly your situation. It is more likely that the customer agrees to listen to your version in this case.
- Never disrespect the customer. You are because of your customers. Especially in this era of social media networks, one wrong spark from your side can jeopardize the reputation of your start-up. The issue will become viral easily and your brand reputation goes for a toss even while you are only trying to build it up.
- Negotiate with the customer once you have listened, apologized and accepted. Most of the customers will be happy if you offer them a considerable discount or some value additions in return for the issue.
- It is very important to handle any customer professionally and if you cannot do that, ask your manager to take it up and step out of the situation. This will make sure that things never go out of your way.
- In case, your customer tries to abuse you, your staff or others in the office, physically or verbally, you can get your manager or the police to handle the situation rather than trying to handle it yourself.
- Never take things personally. Always remember that it is better to negotiate for the sake of the business rather than risking the customer starting off a negative publicity campaign. If you need some clarification, convince your customer for a callback and do call back with all the details required and any possible solutions you can offer. Make sure you document these steps so that even if the customer decides to take legal action, you have your side covered.
Levin George is a Search Engine Optimizer at OfficeRock.com. He actively pursues interests related to latest internet marketing trends. He spends his leisure time reading, meditating and enjoying the joys of technology.