Start Up By Slowing Down: How to Enable Your Team to Get Things Done Efficiently

Episode 6 of What's Up Dock? Podcast with Allison Ullrich. The way she sees it, a lot of problems arise by going too quickly, and in the end, what you’ll usually find is that by slowing down, you’ve enabled your team to actually speed up.


Have you ever tried to tell a startup to slow down?

That’s what Allison Ullrich, Director of Supply Chain at Outer, tells ‘em. The way she sees it, a lot of problems arise by going too quickly. If your people are moving too fast, they’re not coming up for air. 

They may be making emotional decisions instead of rational ones. Communication gets muddied. Data gets lost. Unnecessary expenditures are made. A lot of negative consequences for something that sounded like a good idea, right?

In the end, what you’ll usually find is that by slowing down, you’ve enabled your team to actually speed up.

Join us as we discuss:

  • How to standardize the business for scalability 
  • What to spend your time on to make your time valuable
  • Who to hire for your team

How to standardize the business for scalability 

For much of the population, a startup is viewed as a great, interesting place to work — but always with the understanding that the workplace will be the polar opposite of an established organization, presenting a lot more risk. 

When you look closer at the individuals who make up the startup, however, you begin to see a clear picture of how every person can fill their role effectively — dispelling the idea that a startup really is so different from the companies we consider established. All you need to do is take the time to understand each unique perspective. 

Without that understanding, it can feel impossible to keep everyone moving in the right direction when it comes time to evolve the business. For Allison, who came from a fortune 500 background that measured 10 times and cut once, it was terrifying to move at the pace her startup expected. Still, supply and demand doesn’t wait. 

“As you navigate within a startup, and you evolve, you have to move fast in order to meet the needs of the business.” — Allison Ullrich

What to spend your time on to make your time valuable

No one can discount just how impactful the COVID-19 pandemic has been on business behavior. 

For Allison, she realized just how detrimental “full-speed” decision making at a startup can be — leading to mistakes and wasted resources.

Her solution: Feather in responsiveness to create a more balanced, better performing strategy. 

While it may feel counterintuitive to slow down, not taking the time to think through certain decisions will end up costing you time down the road. Without better decision making, crises like the pandemic will create too much risk — ultimately contributing to the reason your startup fails. 

“We need to still move fast to execute based off of seasonality,” she explains. “But we need to move a little bit slower in regards to cash flow.”

Who to hire for your team

Taking this more metered-approach can also mean better decision-making when it comes to hiring — choosing those that not only fill the role they're needed for right now, but the very different role they’ll potentially play 12 months into the future. 

“If you limit yourself to only hiring for what you need now, you sell yourself short. And you end up having to exhaust additional funds and resources.” — Allison Ullrich

But how could you possibly predict the future success of an employee when you’re unsure of what role the person will need to play in the future? 

Allison relies not only on the specific skills that make them valuable in the short term, but puts an equal emphasis on the experiences and talents that person brings to the table that will transfer later:

“I make it very clear what role that I need them for. But when I look at their resume, I see a whole lot more,” Allison explains. “And since I have the opportunity to help build the vision, I have some ownership over the path. It's about knowing where I need to plug people in when new roles and opportunities come up and are available, and how to shift people into challenges so they stay engaged, have interest, and there's opportunity for growth and promotion from within.”

Sure, this candidate might be an excellent hire for a current position, but will they be just as successful 12 months from now when you need them to go from individual contributor to team lead? If the answer is no, they’re not the best bet for your startup. 

Connect with Allison at https://www.linkedin.com/in/allisoncullrich/

Keep connected with us by subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you get podcasts. Find all the episodes here.

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