How to maintain culture with growth

When growing a business, whether you’re in an aggressive scale-up phase or simply building out teams steadily, your culture will naturally be susceptible to change. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either! Too often we consider change to be something scary or unwanted, when in reality change allows for growth, learnings, and for new ideas to be born.

 

However, sudden changes or shifts in culture can be detrimental to a companies’ performance, as well as internal happiness and job satisfaction. Lattice produced an excellent piece on this, highlighting that “As you add more people to your team, the chances of new hires coming on board who don’t act in alignment with your company values and culture increases.”

 

“As a company grows, you have more stakeholders to manage and unify,” explained Abbi Wood, a consultant who specialises in helping companies define their business personality. “Even one person or conflict can disrupt the status quo or culture of the organisation.”

 

So, how can you maintain culture when growing rapidly?

 

Make sure your values and current culture is crystal clear, and in writing

 

This doesn’t need to be extensive or in a document that everybody must strictly adhere to, but having your values outlined from day #1 and having a physical copy of these available for employees acts as a gentle reminder without needing to police them. 

 

Think of your culture as something that will naturally mould and change slowly, but it shouldn’t steer away from the foundations on which it was built. 

 

Create traditions and embody community

 

Traditions like secret Santa at Christmas, or an annual party or lunch are all key fundamentals which you shouldn’t get rid of just because the company is growing or you “don’t have the time” to keep them up. 

 

It’s crucial to create traditions that reflect your values and ideal company culture, enabling you to ensure everything from behaviours through to company socials reflect this; additionally, embodying community can still be achieved even in a large organisation. Creating sub-cultures within teams that still embody company values are also fine, too, as long as they don’t divulge from your core values.

 

Consistently review your organisational structure for clear lines of communication

 

Communication is the most valuable thing in any business, let alone one that is growing. Ensuring that people aren’t overloaded with too many direct reports, and that there are proper processes in place to communicate needs, grievances, and company information is crucial. You should aim to do this on a quarterly basis. If you don’t have a dedicated talent or operations department to help with this, your recruitment partner can consult you on the best options available to you.

 

Hire sustainably, with a recruitment partner who echoes your values

 

There are thousands of agency partners out there, all of which could probably do an excellent job in finding you talent. But, are they aligned to you as a partner? Or, are they aligned to you purely for a transactional business relationship? 

 

If you work with multiple agencies, this can also be difficult not only from a vendor management perspective, but also due to their opinions and values seeping into your hiring process. 

 

Having 2-3 dedicated partners across your organisation (depending on its size) can help you to hire sustainably, but also partner with agencies who will echo your values and take your culture into account when finding you talent. Particularly at leadership and executive level, you have to work with a completely aligned recruitment partner. 

 

Invest in good technology

 

Communication platforms, HR management systems, and tools to help your employees should be paramount when growing. Not only does great technology make everyone’s work lives much easier (or so we hope, minus when Zoom crashes) it also allows you to maintain the above elements we’ve spoken about: tradition and community. 

 

Additionally, we’ve spoken about feedback platforms before on our blog, such as CultureAmp and SuggestionOx to collect feedback about your culture and act on it accordingly. 

 

And finally, embrace change and don’t see it as the enemy. It would be naive to think that the culture at 10 employees would be the same at 10,000, but you’ll see that some of the most successful, employee-rich organisations don’t divulge from their core values, and nurture their culture on a regular basis through feedback and improving processes.

 

We are always open to having conversations with hiring managers, Talent Acquisition, and the C-Suite about the challenges that you may be facing during your growth phase. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our specialist consultants for more information. 

 

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