Maintaining a Strong Company Culture as You Grow
Company culture — we talk about it frequently in our posts. It’s an important factor in attracting new employees, and in keeping your existing staff happy and productive. A good company culture encourages growth, and especially in a growth spurt, the culture will change, so it’s important to understand how to keep those changes positive. It’s become such a part of business-speak, it’s easy to blow past just what a company’s culture really is. It should come out of your mission statement, your values, your systems, and business practices. You may even have crafted a statement about what your culture is. But defining it doesn’t really tell you everything. You have to look at your people to see it in action, and as the business owner, you have to look hard at yourself too.
From the top
As an entrepreneur, your company had a culture even when it was just you at the beginning. As you added one or two employees, it became something else, almost by accident. If that happened, take control now. Define your core values, and create systems and practices that reinforce them, from customer service to internal interactions. Your culture is lived by everyone in the company, and affects how they interact with others — inside the company staff, as well as with customers.
A strong and positive culture depends on every employee understanding your company’s mission and vision. Your employees will look to you to model those values. If it’s not authentic, they’ll know. If you say, for example, that you value a healthy work/life balance, but don’t demonstrate that yourself, you’re sending a bad message. If you — as the boss — do take time off, but are stingy or openly resentful about others doing so, it’s an even worse message.
A healthy company culture is tied to values, but also to goals and objectives. As you grow, you’ll find it helpful to to refine and detail those goals and objectives to each department. Celebrate the wins — not only the big milestones, but smaller ones too.
Growth & change
Clear communication is always a key component of a healthy company and a positive culture, but it gets harder as you grow. You can’t be everywhere at once, and most people are focused on their part of the whole process.
Have weekly meetings for the entire company, with brief updates from each department (even if it’s a one-person department) on their activities and objectives for the time period. Seems like a simple step, but it makes a huge difference. Otherwise, everyone’s operating in a vacuum. The larger you get, the more important the regular communication of progress and goals as a company becomes.
Make sure you explain how all the different activities tie together. If a new marketing initiative is bringing in new customers, let your service advisors and techs know that they’ll be busy soon.
Trim as needed
You may also find that as your company gets bigger and your culture changes, some of your employees aren’t growing along with you. Put in the effort to get them up to speed with the changes. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to fire them for the good of the company. This can be extremely difficult if it’s a longtime employee, but a grumbling old-timer can quickly turn new employees sour, or send them out the door for a better fit at a different company.
If you’re in growth mode, you know how hard it’s been to get there. Creating or resetting a strong culture to live your core values, and demonstrating them to your employees, will help you find — and keep — great people who want to do great work.
What About You?
What are some ways you and your company have maintained, or changed, company culture as your company grew and became more successful over the years? We would love to hear some success stories out there! Use the comments section below to provide some feedback.