How to Maintain a Startup Culture in a Big Company
When your company is growing a lot, it’s a good thing. The other good thing is that you will watch your team grow from around 2 people to over 30 people within a particular time fame. The sad part however is that at the point where you have already hired over 100 people, it is very easy to lose the grip on your company’s startup culture because there are just too many people and you cannot micromanage them to keep the startup mentality. The following 11 tips will show you some of the things to do to maintain a startup culture in a growing company;
1. Arrive early and leave after everyone has left
In big corporations, you realize that the bosses get in late and leave really early sometimes before anyone has left the office. To maintain a startup culture in your growing company, you need to show the zeal that was there when you first started. One of the best ways to do that is by coming to work really early, and leaving after everyone has left.
That way, your employees know that no matter how hard they work, there is always somebody working harder and more committed to the job than them. It maintains the hustle mentality that startups usually have. Your employees will not want to ever be late because they know they’ll always find you in the office. Even when they leave earlier than you in the evening they know that the job and the struggle is still on.
2. Team building events
Organizing team building events outside the office is a very good way to maintain a startup culture. In huge companies that have lost the startup mojo, team building events are a thing of rarity and these have been supplemented by the provision for leave days when people decide to take some time off work. Apart from providing leave days in your startup, organize for events where your employees can get involved outdoors and talk to each other on a personal and fun level.
Encouraging your employees to know each other outside the office creates strong bonds between them. This also enhances communication across the company. When people are communicating nothing can ever go wrong. Startups tend to have better interpersonal communication as a result of such outdoor meetups and you can implement this as your company grows.
3. Praise people who live upto the company’s core values
Each company has its core values. When starting a company, core values are drilled into the employees’ systems and they learn to follow and abide by these. However, once the company is really growing and more people are being added, there is the challenge of ensuring that these core values are still driving the company.
To ensure that employees continue to live by the values that are the foundation of your company, it’s important to praise and award the employees who follow the values to the latter. It encourages other employees to stick by the principles.
4. Let the office be a source of laughter
The typical nature of companies is that they come from startups who used to have a lot of fun together to corporations that become boring, dull and gloomy after a few years. To avoid this, stay funny as a company, continue to fill the offices with laughter because that’s something huge corporations do not have.
As the CEO or the founder, maintaining the happy mood in a company is one of your top jobs if you want to maintain the startup culture. Laughter keeps employees happy, and you don’t really have to be the one cracking the jokes, just make sure you create the environment that informs employees that it’s okay to laugh at work a lot provided the job gets done.
5. Hire right
In the hiring sessions and interviews, it’s important to watch out for the employees that like to start small and move fast. Those are the type of employees startups have. These kinds of employees are not looking to work for a ready-made company, they are looking to grow with the company and will go over and beyond in every of their ability to ensure the company grows.
Some employees are not meant for the startup environment and won’t buy into the startup culture. Hiring them will do a lot of disservice to your company.
6. Know your employees better
The more a company grows, the more employees are needed to move things forward. Sometimes founders and CEOs find themselves in situations where they don’t know the first names of their employees let alone any bit of their lives.
Startups are the direct opposite. Founders and CEOs always know their employees by name. To make this even better, they go an extra mile to know more about them. Employees love it when the head of a company tries to know them better and it creates an important connection on a personal level.
Maintaining such interest in your employees as they become many retains the startup culture. Over time, you will probably have too many employees to get to know each of them, at least know something though, even if it’s their first name.
7. Involve employees in shaping culture
Sometimes the best way to keep a startup culture in a ballooning company is by involving the employees in shaping that culture. Every month an employee will be tasked with ensuring that a certain part of your startup traditions is maintained. By doing this, the culture gets into the systems of your employees. Since they helped shape it, they are probably more likely to follow it.
8. Maintain the efficiency of startups (eliminate bottlenecks that slow down work)
Startups are typically very effective in completing work and meeting the clients’ demands. Big companies tend to develop bottlenecks and bureaucracies that hinder faster completion of work and service provision.
To keep the startup culture intact when you are growing very fast is to eliminate the bottlenecks and any other unnecessary hindrances which slow down service provision and ruin client satisfaction. A startup culture is based on moving swiftly and fast, meeting or superseding clients’ requirements and moving on fast from past mistakes.
9. Continue innovating
Look at a company like Google. It was viewed as a startup for several years because of the startup culture that was cultivated in the firm. The company retained their culture by continuing to be innovative. Even today, while they test the Google Glasses and try out the space balloons and driverless cars, it’s clear that despite being the most valuable company in the world, they continue to create and dream of new things.
The ability to do that is magnificent. That is why your growing company should never stop being innovative and leading the park.
10. Listen to your employees
Startup founders listen a lot to the employees because they are also just trying to figure things out as they go. When your company’s size increases, there is the challenge of thinking that as the head of the company you already know it all. However, the process of learning and becoming better at something is never-ending. As a founder, you need to listen to your employees a lot and talk less. You will discover how much gems they hold within them that could propel your company to the next level.
The mere act of listening to employees develops and grows the startup culture. CEOs to big corporations don’t tend to listen to employees at all.
11. Open various small branches
When the company’s headquarters is growing really fast into a huge company, sometimes opening various branches of the company ensures that at each location the team is small, easily manageable and embodies the startup culture you desire. This might have challenges which may include a lot of travelling for you but it allows your teams at various locations to maintain a startup culture due to the low numbers.
Have anything to add? Let me know in the comments section below.
Originally published at press.farm on February 19, 2016.