How to Maintain Your Company Culture When Scaling Up
As a quickly growing startup, we wanted to share some of our tips on maintaining culture amidst exponential growth.
Our culture is everything to us… it defines who we are and how we work as a team, and it is an essential part of our winning strategy. So, as we grow, maintaining our unique culture is essential to our identity and work life. Especially as we begin to expand internationally, we’ve taken a deep look into how to maintain our Norwegian identity, yet succeed in the highly competitive US market.
Earlier this year, we took on investment capital from Spring Capital in order to accelerate the growth of our wildly successful sales motivation tool, SalesScreen, into the US. We wanted to take a short pause to reflect on how to maintain strong culture while scaling.
Scaling up means more clients, more employees and more sales. And with that comes the complications of maintaining your brand identity and company culture.
Here are 7 tips for maintaining your company culture as your business grows.
Reinforce company mission and values
As your company grows, it becomes more important than ever to reinforce the company mission and values. Creating a mission and set of values is likely something you did in the early stages of the company, but does everyone really know what they are? It’s worth taking the time to restate company values and make sure that all your employees are familiar with them.
It is also smart to make sure the company mission and values are accessible and visible throughout the office. This ensures that they are always front of mind to your staff–and encourages a harmonious company culture.
“19% of employees don’t understand their core values or simply don’t know them.”
–OfficeVibe’s State of Employee Engagement poll
“1 of 4 employees are either indifferent or don’t know much about their company’s mission.”
–OfficeVibe’s State of Employee Engagement poll
Be transparent and communicative
In a small company, it’s relatively easy to have good interoffice communication. Once you start to grow in size and number of employees, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain that communication and ensure that everyone is always in the loop. This is even further complicated when you start to add offices in different locations. So how do you make sure your company culture is preserved? Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Consider using communication tools–such as Slack–to keep everyone in the know. It’s an easy way to give updates, encourage open lines of communication and provides a fun and social element for employees to stay in touch.
Transparency is also key when promoting a good company culture. You can’t expect to have a positive and consistent company culture when employees are not informed about all relevant information regarding the company. People want to know what they are working towards. And in fact, “purpose-oriented employees experience 64% higher levels of fulfillment in their work compared to non purpose-oriented employees.”
Hire the right people
People are the backbone of any good company. Implementing good hiring practices is not only good for company performance, but also for company culture.
Look beyond qualifications and consider if the person is a good fit for your company culture and vice versa. Introduce them to the team during the interview process and see if they vibe well. Find out what their professional values are and see if they match up with the company values.
Hiring the right people is more than just looking at a piece of paper–and it could ultimately be the make or break factor in the process of expanding your company.
Additionally, make sure that company culture and values are included in the on-boarding process, so that new employees have clear expectations regarding this from the start.
At Zappos, they conduct one interview with the hiring manager and their team and one with the HR team. They also offer $2,000 for new employees that want to quit, to ensure that only those who really want to be there actually stay.
Provide feedback channels
Getting employee feedback is an important element in any business, and it is crucial to maintain this when scaling up. It becomes easy to lose touch when your company is getting bigger and bigger. Feedback channels are an excellent way to stay grounded and make sure you are always aware of any and all issues–as well as all positive things!
Some of our favorite ways to have open lines of communication and easily allow for employee feedback include holding weekly video meetings, sending out Know Your Company surveys and having regular social outings and activities.
Ensure the new environment reflects culture
What do you want the space to say about your company and its employees? Is it hipster and cool? Funky and modern? Classy and professional? Warm and welcoming?
As we have previously mentioned, office design and environment can have a significant impact on company culture. Keep this in mind when physically scaling up the company and designing your new spaces as many studies suggest that “architecture and design can support or even change company culture”.
Designing with company culture in mind is also an effective way to communicate your company brand identity and values across locations. If people get the same impression no matter what office location they step into, then you are probably doing something right to convey your brand.
This also goes for your employees–if your company values are instilled in your people, this will be reflected throughout the staff across all departments and locations.
As you grow you obtain more employees, so fostering employee satisfaction becomes exponentially more important. Studies show that “organizations that give regular recognition experience 31% lower voluntary turnover.”
Recognizing accomplishments and contributions shows that you are paying attention and that you care. Consider TV screens throughout the office to project achievements and milestones and encourage everyone to celebrate together.
To learn more about implementing this in your office, check out SalesScreen.
Establishing company traditions is great for unifying all employees and can be a fun and social way to increase engagement. Traditions should reflect your unique company culture and contribute to fostering a positive and collaborative work environment.
Consider both interoffice and companywide traditions (if you have multiple locations). How about an annual retreat and/or holiday celebration? Or a monthly social outing, like mini golf or bowling? Why not implement a “Fun Friday”? We suggest a glass of wine on Friday afternoons, but this can be anything that makes sense for your own company and culture :)
As your company is growing, there are a lot of things to focus on. Don’t forget that people will always be the most important. The relationships you create and the way you treat your people will say more about who you are than any press release or news article ever will. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to scaling in a way that allows you to keep your relationships strong. Never forget who you are and what your original mission was.
About Author: David Smith
David Smith is the Chief Marketing Officer for SalesScreen , a SaaS platform that helps organizations around the world to track progress on KPIs, reward completion of key activities and surpass their goals. As a result, customers experience stronger culture, lower turnover, better awareness on targets and increased activity on the metrics that matter most to revenue growth and success. You can find his writings at The Art of Sales.