Monday May 4, 2015
Many companies start up with a sense of adventure, passion, and comradery. Vision, Mission, and Values get articulated and everyone part of the new company lives them and believes the same dream. Growth comes, which is exciting. But often with the influx of revenue, customers, regulations to comply with, and new team members, some of the original luster gets buried in the growth. It can be difficult to maintain a distinctive culture.
Here are some steps your growing company can take to keep and even enhance its culture; regardless of how fast it grows:
- Focus on the future. Keep the vision so visible that your employees know it better than your street address. Talk about it in every company meeting and in every staff meeting. Post it prominently in break rooms and lobbies. Don’t just give it lip service. Champion it. Keep it top of mind. Make sure everyone knows where you’re going.
- Appoint an Organizational Historian. Delegate to that person, the job of building institutional memory by helping everyone reminisce about the good old days when the organization was just a handful of people with no money. Shared memories are a great way to build a team. They also help you remember where you came from and why. Make sure everyone knows where you’ve been.
- Value your values. You and your people will forget them if you let that happen. Treat your values as the distinctives that mark your organization. Guard your organization against anyone or anything that would diminish the value of your values. Make sure everyone knows your organization’s “ways” and why.
- Celebrate your organizational quirkiness. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Same with culture. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure. Same with culture. Your culture won’t work for everyone. Don’t try to morph it to change that or you will get a generic culture. Be comfortable in your own organizational “skin,” quirkiness and all. Make sure everyone knows who the organizational “you” is.
- Hire for fit. Don’t hire someone with great skills and experience who doesn’t like the way your organization works. Or rewards performance. Or responds to customers. Or emphasizes quality. Or shoots rubber bands at each other on Friday afternoons. When you hire for skills only, you risk hiring someone that won’t be happy unless they change the very things that make everyone else happy. That’s not a winning proposition. Make sure you know who fits.
- Promote people who can finish your sentences. People in management will either emphasize and enhance the culture, or they will morph it to fit themselves. It is crucial that you promote people who see your vision, live your mission, and share your values. Otherwise they may steer things to what they think is best. The dichotomy never is. Make sure you know your team.
- Be intentional. When the inevitable deviation occurs, ignoring it will only send the message that what used to matter no longer does. Address it as visibly as necessary to reinforce that what used to matter does all the more so as you grow. Sometimes this means parting ways with someone who is rowing a different direction. Make sure you know how to make the tough calls.
Your growing company doesn’t have to become a big box bureaucracy with a generic culture. You can retain the uniqueness that makes your company great. If you lose it, you will dread Monday mornings. If you keep it, you will get the results you want and enjoy getting them in the process with a team you love.
At Open Door Organizational Solutions, we love helping organizations create culture, vision, and an enviable employment brand. We help busy leaders find and keep the right team members, part ways with the wrong ones, and get everyone on their team focused on the same vision... your vision. Open Door Organizational Solutions...because the right team, united around a compelling vision, can change the world.