Maintaining Your Company’s Culture Through Rapid Growth
One of the great things about starting a business is the opportunity to create your own company culture. In the early stages, you get to hand pick your team, and communication flows freely. As companies grow, however, business owners often find it challenging to maintain that culture through ever-greater numbers of employees and levels of management. This is also when long-time employees may start to yearn for the “good old days” when they felt more connected to their work. By keeping a close eye on your company’s culture, you can reap such benefits as greater productivity, employee retention, and increased job satisfaction.
If your business is experiencing a period of rapid growth, here are some suggestions for maintaining that small-business feel.
If your business is growing rapidly, you may need to hire many people all at once. That’s not an excuse to be careless, however. Each employee will shape the culture of your company. Make sure they have the right attitude from the start; it’s one thing you can’t train.
Pick the Right Leaders
Managers can boost morale or make it nosedive overnight. Make sure your managers are there to support their teams, not just to feel important. They should be the culture ambassadors who keep everyone on track.
Don’t Be a Stranger
This becomes increasingly difficult as businesses grow. Do your best to remember employees’ names, be accessible, and socialise when you can. Engaging with your employees will help them feel recognised and appreciated. The more levels of management there are, the more alienated employees may feel. Try to reach out.
Meet Outside of Work
It’s important to meet outside of work now and then to foster camaraderie and team spirit. Charity fundraisers, company sports teams, and celebratory dinners are all great ways to bring co-workers together in a social setting. These are also great opportunities to reassert company culture away from the stresses of the office.
Make it company policy to recognise great work. Employees will work harder if they feel good about what they do.
Make it Concrete
Reiterate your company culture in a concrete way. Don’t use vague words like “striving for excellence.” What does it mean to be a part of your company? Can it be summed up in a phrase? If you have regular meetings, take a moment to recognise those who embody the company’s values.
Larger companies can become siloed by department. Worse, this can lead to unhealthy rivalries. Don’t let your customer service reps feel alienated from your QA specialists. Keep the channels of communication open. Make sure everyone has a voice.
Employee surveys can be helpful in gauging both morale and changes in company culture. If they’re anonymous, the participants may feel more candid than they would otherwise.
It’s not easy maintaining that startup culture at a large scale, but it can be done. While it may come with a high cost in time and attention, it is likely to yield significant returns down the road.