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Crash and Burn: 3 Lessons Startups can Learn from Uber’s Downfall

You are world’s one of the fastest growing startups. You were coined as the Silicon Valley Unicorn. Then one day you find your CEO, President, VP, CFO, COO, Head of Engineering, Head of Production and other key members……all gone.

Yes, we are talking about Uber. A $70 billion market cap and countless happy riders and drivers, what’s not to like there?  Well, of late, there’s been a lot and the fire may be burning out of control.

From fostering a culture of misogyny and being accused of stealing the self-driving system from Google to the looming fear of a collapsable business model, if more court case (Oh! there are many) comes its way — the taxi hailing app’s lifeline will shrink drastically.

So taking a leaf out of the ‘Uber’s Book of Blunders’, here are 3 mistakes every business should avoid, at all costs!

#1. SHORTCUTS lead you nowhere

The first thing Uber wants to fix is its culture. They’ve brought in an external source (which is THEMSELVES!) to anchor its sinking ship….or we can say, car.

But here’s the thing with culture. It is a composition of the attitudes, values, behaviors and beliefs of everybody gelled together to produce work. That’s why company culture isn’t something you can change.

Startup Lessons from Uber

However, what you can change are the actions that make up the culture. Know how your people think, what they value and prioritize accordingly.

Where do you begin?

Glad you asked. Start by re-evaluating the ecosystem of the company as a whole. The old motivation theory of offering hefty salaries so you can get the car you always wanted no longer work — thanks to Uber (pun intended).

Along with paychecks, the magnet of purpose, play and potential is what drives the employees today. Even when you are on the uphill climb of your culture fix, don’t forget to focus on the peaks and valleys that guaranteed the climb in the first place.

#2. LISTEN to your Employees

Company culture crises are often the product of many small cracks. The first fracture in Uber’s perfect exterior appeared when a blistering blog post written by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler highlighted rampant sexual harassment and equally ambivalent response from HR.

What failed Uber here is its deficient Human Resource.

Startup Lessons from Uber

When the department that is important to keep things in order flunks, chaos are bound to happen. If an ineffective human resource persistently plagues a company, it not only affects organizational functioning but also impact recruitment, management policies and profitability.

#3. Own Your PROBLEMS

Perhaps one of the biggest factors that are exacerbating Uber’s toxic work culture is its lack of transparency. Uber appears to have so far refused to investigate where the toxicity is coming from. Instead, it’s painted over its issues and focused on scaling. What Uber is facing now is the culmination of its inability to listen and not owning up to its problems.

While issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion might seem like petty problems to you, failing to incorporate these issues into your culture is the key to failure. Which is exactly what happened with Uber!

It’s Time to Take the Back Seat to Move Forward

Travis Kalanick resigning as the CEO of Uber has not shocked anyone. Perhaps the only surprise was that it took him this long to step down from his high horse.

Similarly, if your ‘Win-At-All-Costs Ethos’ is harming your people — your employees and customers — it is time to take the back seat. Be brutally honest with yourself on your progress. Don’t try to curtain your shortcomings or failures.

Last but not the least, try and be honest with yourself and those around you. We promise things will be ten-times easier if you do so.

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