Scaling a business is everyone’s dream. It’s fun being the little guy, but no one wants to be there forever.
In general, scaling up is a good thing. You’ll have more resources, more people, and more opportunities to serve your customers.
But there are also some downsides. Specifically, your company culture will change.
As a small operation, it’s a lot easier to manage your culture.
When you start to add more people to the mix, and as everyone starts to get busier trying to make the business succeed, it can become difficult to keep things going in the right direction.
But there is hope. Culture usually develops organically. But not in confined environments such as a business or organization.
For culture to develop the way you want it to, and to be able to preserve that which makes you unique in the first place, you as a leader need to take charge and steer things in the right direction.
We already know that business leaders play a big role in creating the workplace environment, but don’t ever think culture is something out of your control.
Here are some things to consider to help you preserve your company culture in times of growth.
1. Define Your Core Values
Visualization is the first step of organizational change. To keep your culture intact as you scale, it’s important to be clear about who you are and what you want to be.
A useful way to do this is to spend some time outlining your vision, mission, and core values.
Your vision is the image you have of the world when your business is helping as many people as possible. The company mission statement is your plan for how you’ll get there.
And your core values are the unique characteristics of your company that will help to make your vision a reality.
Far too many companies wait until after they’ve experienced growth to sit down and outline core values.
This is a mistake, something which Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky explains nicely in this lecture. If you wait too long, things will develop on their own and you will have far less control over what happens to your company culture.
By taking the time to clearly outline where you want to be before you get there, you help to lay out a much clearer path for both you and your employees.
And as you scale, you’ll be able to more clearly identify when you’re drifting off course, allowing you to take corrective actions more quickly and efficiently.
2. Solicit Employee Input
It’s much harder to institute any type of change in your organization when employees feel as though it’s being imposed from the top.
Everyone needs to buy-in for things to happen, otherwise, you’ll end up creating feelings of resentment which can quickly transform into a negative company culture.
As a leader, you play an active role in shaping culture. But this doesn’t mean you can do whatever you please.
Asking people to do something they’re not comfortable with is a great way to stunt progress.
Always make sure you’re including employees in the development of your culture strategy. Ask them what they think makes your company unique, what they would like to see more of, and where they see things going in the future.
By doing this, you can get a much clearer idea as to what kind of company you already are.
It also gets people actively thinking about company culture. They will no longer think of their jobs as just a place of employment but rather as something they play a primary role in helping to create.
One of the best things culture does for you is it facilitates best practices and discourages things that are not in line with your core values.
If you have employees working to shape culture, then it’s much easier to stay true to who you are, even as you expand and scale.
3. Broadcast Culture Through an Employer Brand
The primary threat growth presents to your current culture comes from people. But it’s also the best opportunity to create positive change.
As you expand, you will need to bring in new people, and everyone will come with their own set of experiences, values, and beliefs.
One big mistake you can make when trying to keep culture intact is to hire people strictly on experience.
It’s tempting to hire an accountant with loads of experience. But if their values aren’t aligned with yours, then their presence can easily take culture somewhere you don’t want it to go.
To expand your workforce based on culture, it’s important you broadcast who you are as a company to those you’re looking to hire.
Make sure there is plenty of information on the web about the type of company culture you have (candidates frequently research you before applying or going into an interview) and make sure the messages you send through social media and other digital channels reflect your culture.
This serves two purposes. First, it helps to attract people that will bring your culture in the right direction. And second, it helps to repel those who won’t.
When you’re clear about the type of culture you’re trying to build, those who don’t mesh will get this impression when research a job posting or your company.
This will push them away, enhancing the quality of your candidate pool and making it easier to bring people in that will support the cultural strategy you’ve put in place.
A great example of this is Netflix’s culture deck, which was created and circulated specifically to help bring in the right people.
Start Shaping the Culture You Want Today
There are some aspects of culture that will be out of your control. People are unpredictable, and it’s impossible to really know someone after just a short interview or series of interviews.
But this doesn’t mean you’re powerless. By taking a proactive approach to cultural development, you can help preserve the culture you have and set it up to grow so that it can provide your business with a significant competitive edge.
How Can Leaders Preserve Company Culture?
If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
Would you like to contribute a post?