How to manage and retain your best talent

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This article is a crosspost from Nuwait.

The debate over the best practices to retain and motivate employees is a never-ending one.

Each and every startup founder has their own set of values, tools and approaches that help them retain their best talents. To better understand how startups in Kuwait are able to hold on to their human capital, given their small size and income, we spoke to three entrepreneurs and here’s what they said about the subject.

“Most of the team's motivation comes from the fact that the founder is visibly working twice as hard as they are.” - Khalid Al-Mutawa, founder of Plugn, Studenthub, cofounder of The White Book.

Al-Mutawa believes that team leaders should be on the forefront of war battles. “I design, develop, and strategize with them. I read every single line of code written, do the tests, manage servers and deployment, handle the accounting and team recruitment, then manage payroll,” he said.

Khalid Al-Mutawa.


“I constantly make them feel that Menafile’s success depends on them. I make them feel accountable, and responsible for our overall success.” - Fahad Al-Falah, founder of archiving solutions Menafile.

To ensure his team is not just in it for the money, Al-Falah believes the real motivation should come from something more genuine and durable than the fear of being fired. This is why he involves them in all the company’s activities and makes them feel part of the founding team.

“The team is motivated by the bigger vision the leader sets for the business. For us, I have to be a visionary and a good salesman and pitch my vision and long term view weekly, and sometimes daily.” Nizar Wannous, founder of gifting app Dizly.

It’s not the tools, it’s you

Even if a number of softwares and tools can help entrepreneurs assign tasks to their employees and manage them efficiently, if the team doesn’t share the same company values and culture, the tools become useless.

Al-Mutawa, Al-Falah and Wannous shared with us the tools they use to smoothen the communication with their teams. The first two were really keen on Slack while Wannous preferred Trolley and Pipedrive.

“[Slack] has completely de-cluttered my email which we only use for external communications now and it has made our internal communications a lot more seamless,” said Al-Falah.

“I personally use Trello to keep track and update my tasks internally with the team,” said Wannous. “For my meetings and business tracking, I like Pipedrive. It helps me organize [the] funnel of the workflow.”

Al-Mutawa’s work, which involves a lot of following up with developers abroad, requires different sets of tools:

Pivotal Tracker, a project management tool that updates the manager on pending tasks and attributes, how fast the team is on average and team areas that could be improved.

Github, which he uses to track all versions of code and automatically deploy apps after testing.

Zeplin and Invision, a design collaboration tool that communicates the designs to developers and integrates with Slack to update the team on design feedback.

Sentry, which keeps track of all errors committed on the production website. It also syncs with Slack to notify the customer service team that an error has occurred.

Zendesk, Intercom, and Plugn, for customer support and community management on social media.

Postman, to enable backend developer to document the application programming interface (API) and communicate it with the frontend developers.

Google Calendar and Google Drive, to work collectively and schedule meetings.  

Al-Mutawa also thinks that the flexibility of work, the workspace, and the training greatly contribute to employees' well being. He allows his team to work outside of the office, as long as they get the job done. He also doesn’t recommend working for more than eight hours a day or overtime.

“Motivation comes differently as a cross-functional team working from different locations around the world,” he concluded.

How do you motivate your team? What tools do you use to stay in sync?

Feature image via Stockvault.

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