How humans kill companies

Think it’s bad products or the wrong marketing that kills companies?

Think again.

In my experience, human problems are the biggest threat to a company’s well-being, and it usually happens when there’s office politics, you’re too distant from your team, or you’re way too involved (two extremes).

Of course, there are lots of other ways human problems can take down a company, but these are the ones that spring to mind first… and I’ve dealt with all of them.

You let office politics rage

One of the most effective ways to erode the strength of your company is to allow office politics to go unchecked.

Whether it’s rumors about a company’s viability or petty interpersonal problems, the only way to remove politics from the situation is to address it head-on.

Talk to the person or people who are having issues until you come to an agreement; don’t let it go unaddressed… it will only get worse.

If the people talking turns out to be everyone in your company, bring them all into a meeting and tell them what’s going on, address their concerns and be open to their criticism.

The best people want to be heard, they have strong opinions and a desire to understand what’s going on.

They can help you get through anything as long as you engage them.

If the problem is persistent and involves several people’s bad behavior, get rid of the people starting trouble, even if they’re top performers.

High performance isn’t an excuse for destroying a company.

You’re too far removed from the people who work for you

As a company scales there’s a tendency among startup founders to stay out of their team’s lives completely, but I’ve found that getting more involved can actually be good.


Well, you’ll learn what kinds of things motivate your team and also what frustrates them.

When you listen, people will tell you important things about how they like to work.

You’ll even learn how to help them do better by learning about their obstacles and removing them.

You’re way too involved in your team’s day-to-day

One more meeting in person to check-in; constant emails about a project; incessant reminders that you’re the one in control. These are just a few of the ways you can get in someone’s way.

You have to remember why you hired someone and let them do their job.

Let them figure it out on their own; if they fail, then take action if necessary, but not before that.

Startups don’t always fail because of a bad product or no market. Most of the time it’s due to human factors.

The awesome part about realizing this is that it’ll help you avoid making these mistakes with your own team.

Being attentive to the needs of the people on your team always pays off for your company in the long run.