Scalable Culture, Part 2 — Today Can Save Tomorrow
What will get you profitable today, won’t maintain or scale your profitability tomorrow.
Building on part one (link below this paragraph) and the importance of establishing intentional processes around behavior and then walking them out, let’s talk about how the processes we put in place will scale up as we grow. While these principles and points were built around a startup methodology, they can be applied within an existing team or organization as well.
I have intentionally tried to break this up into easy to understand, digestible action items for leaders to comprehend and implement. All smart business owners are focused on scaling operationally. From lean and agile methodologies to lines of credit, cash flow management and even ramping up hiring and capital equipment purchases, every decision is run through a filter of how it builds to the future (or at least it should be).
So, lets talk about what it looks like to approach your culture and the “how we as people work” in the same manner:
- In today’s world, the talent pools are shrinking for good people. Startups have an edge in getting people to sign on because they are hip and edgy and offer a lot of intrinsic motivators for new hires as far as some autonomy and a small-ish team that is tight knit and passion or purpose-driven. These are great enticements for new hires, but they wont keep your rock stars over the long haul. Growth will offer advancement opportunities which will help, but consensus based leadership culture and maintaining the accountability on behavior through the growth is what will build and maintain trust for the short and long term growth curves to be sustainable.
- What happens when your startup is a year or two old and you hit a stagnant month or two, or you have a great salesperson who is driving your financial goals but they are killing the rest of the team to do it? How quickly will your best people start to jump ship?
- Correlation vs causation in motivational theory and employee engagement shows us the importance of creating processes and structure within your culture that emphasize people’s ability to be intrinsically motivated. Essentially, that involves thinking through the actions and behaviors you want your employees to exhibit and then working backwards through psychological motivators such as autonomy, advancement opportunities, validation of value, etc. to illicit the behaviors you desire. The key is that it takes far more work on the the front end to illicit intrinsic motivation from employees than extrinsic motivation (i.e a year end bonus or some other monetary measure). The ROI on this translates into employee engagement. When people are intrinsically motivated vs. extrinsically motivated, the engagement levels are higher. When you can achieve this across whole teams or whole organizations, you begin to see an exponential effect referred to by Liz Wiseman in her book Multipliers where the sum is greater than the whole.
- Doing the work now to put policies and processes in place to deal with the reality of people being people in the future will prevent small miscommunications and disagreements from spiraling into divisive rhetoric and team member squabbling later.
- Intentionality is key. If you are in it for the long run, make sure you are spending the time now to ensure your success tomorrow. This, like any other goal or KPI, needs to be written down and executed upon as a strategy objective in order to be successful.