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Rapid growth for a business can mean great things for the bottom line. However, the faster a company expands, the more chance there is for company values to get lost amidst the growth.
A growing team also changes the dynamic between employees, and leaders should be equipped to help team members adapt to these changes. Below, 15 Forbes Business Council members shared their best advice for managing and maintaining your culture, no matter how quickly you’re growing.
1. Focus On Employees
Rapid growth is great for the bottom line but it can also be a corporate culture killer! Companies need to focus on three things: First, employee onboarding because it’s the best time to promote culture. Second, continuous learning so employees learn about the organization and develop critical skills for success. Third, social and community channels or designed spaces for employees to connect about work and personal interests. - Juliet Okafor, RevolutionCyber
2. Communicate The Culture Constantly And Consistently
Leaders need to realize that their messaging has to be constant. We adopted specific behaviors we wanted employees to emulate, reinforcing these behaviors with regular conversations centered on a particular behavior. We use these behaviors to help guide an employee that might be running into a few issues. We also praise employees who exhibit them. - Joe Crandall, Greencastle Associates Consulting
3. Model Good Leadership Skills
The culture of an organization follows the heart of the CEO and to some extent the board of directors. If you lead an organization, your people will follow and mirror your personal assets, especially your liabilities. Culture or employee attitudes always reflect leadership in good times and the bad. State your core values and demonstrate your values with benefits, compensation and actions. - Brian Shore, elevēo
4. Establish Emotional Connections
In times of growth, new developments happen daily. Keep the dialogue going, matching the pace of productivity and innovation by using platforms like Slack, dashboards and standing 10-minute meetings. Equally important is to celebrate progress, show appreciation, foster a sense of community and take time for fun. Culture thrives when teams have an emotional connection to the mission and to one other. - Sarah Sladek, XYZ University, LLC
5. Clearly Communicate The Organization's Values
Take the time to demonstrate to new hires in concrete terms the driving values and mission of the organization, the linchpins of strong organizational culture. Continue to periodically re-enroll long-time and existing colleagues on this secret sauce. Culture must continually be reinforced and refreshed to adapt to changes in the marketplace and society. - Dean Fealk, DLA Piper
6. Update Culture To Meet Changing Needs Of Employees
Company culture is the sum of interactional values expressed through daily behaviors. Like strategy, culture is identified at founding and updated constantly to meet changing needs of employees. The values and behaviors need to be reinforced by all workers daily and weekly. This way, all new members learn them immediately and experience company commitment. - Jerry Cahn, Age Brilliantly
7. Hire For A 'Culture Contribution'
Instead of hiring for “culture fit,” companies should focus on “culture contribution.” Hire candidates who will not only help the company progress on its culture strategy, but also further evolve it once they're on board. The goal is to hire people who will help build the culture you want in two to five years, not simply the one you have today. - Nathan Christensen, Mineral
8. Designate A Positive Culture Lead
Designating a current employee as your positive culture lead (PCL) and arming them with a budget and time to dedicate to preserving and improving company culture works incredibly well. Usually you can identify an internal employee who is a fit for this role so you don't have to hire for it. Just be sure to be clear about your expectations for this role. - Richard Steel, Parsec Ventures
9. Hire Employees Who Respect Values
Periods of high growth, energy and new opportunities can test the strength of company culture. The priority is to ensure that the company culture is at the center of the organization's behaviors and this begins by making sure we are all talking about our values. Hiring in such an environment is one of the most critical processes to manage to ensure that what got you there helps get you further. - Corey Scurlock, Equum Medical
10. Interview For Culture 'Add' Instead Of 'Fit'
Funnel doubled in size over the last year. The first important point is that a great culture should not be maintained but rather grown. We interview for culture "add" vs "fit." Secondly, it is critical that all new hires know that we are expecting them to provide feedback on the culture so that we can improve upon it. - Tyler Christiansen, Funnel
11. Establish A Strong Foundation
You can't fire a cannon from a canoe. Your systems, processes, people and behaviors are the rebar that an organizational culture forms around. Ensure that the way you do things is rock solid before scaling. Otherwise, you could be trying to build a tower without a foundation. - Dustin Snyder, Wayforward Associates
12. Have Empathy For Team Members
Being agile and adaptable with a high level of empathy is critical in these times growing at this rate. The best talent can be acquired. However, having rigid leadership and the inability of team members to adapt may limit the use of employees' overlapping skills. Keeping a team mentality prepared to win at the "game" creates a culture where the "hot hand" can take the shot and win when the game is on the line. Empathy is critical. - Paul L. Gunn, KUOG Corporation
13. Have An Open Door Policy
Managing a company's culture requires a conscious effort and is achieved through an open-door policy. Chaos happens when employees no longer give feedback and you believe that maintenance happens by itself. Ask your staff about the type of workplace they would like to work in or foresee themselves thriving at, and then listen carefully to their responses to scale accordingly. - Ibrahim Ibrahim, Override
14. Create A Flexible Plan For Scaling Culture
Have a flexible plan for scaling the company culture as the company grows. This plan should include guidelines for hiring new employees, onboarding them and training them on the company culture. It is also important to make sure that the culture remains relevant and meaningful to employees as the company grows. What works for a small company will likely not work so well for a very large one. - Matthew Ramirez, Paraphrase
15. Retain The Right Talent
Talent challenges are the by-product of extreme growth. The core process to attract, develop, retain and circulate the right talent is a necessity. Beyond this, however, hypergrowth firms must emphasize agile talent with the capability to solve complex issues and adjust to changing internal and external factors. - Bram Weerts, Kea | Analyst Relations