Scaling Culture in Fast-Growing Companies is Critical

Find out how to scale up rapidly and grow your business with the right talent.  

Is your company growth explosive? Maybe you have to scale up so quickly that there is a constant stream of new team members. Or are you a high-growth start-up that just secured funding and needs to grow your team immediately? If you answered yes, to any of those questions, the stakes are high and you could find yourself at a tipping point with your workplace culture.

How do we grow quickly without putting our culture at risk? 

Assess your current culture – Your first step is to understand what your culture and values are today – at this moment.  What are the key behaviours you see from leaders and employees today? What do they value most about your current workplace culture? Using a combination of surveys, focus groups, executive interviews, and market research tools, you can engage with your internal and external talent to get a clear understanding of your culture’s current state.  Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to craft your organization’s Employer Value Proposition (EVP) and develop a culture playbook that will align with your strategic initiatives, internal competencies, and talent attraction and retention initiatives. Most importantly, these tools will clearly articulate who you are and where you want to go, in a way that resonates with your talent. And when you’re in high-growth mode, being able to clearly and quickly share your culture and values with others in a compelling way, can make all the difference.

What should I keep an eye out for? What are the risks?

Be prepared for the following roadblocks that lie ahead for fast-growing companies.

Team alignment – Is your team singing from the same songbook? Are they all on the same page? One of the risks we see most often is that teams are not in alignment – whether it’s the executive team or your front-line customer service team. When you’re moving quickly, it can be easy to get out of sync, no matter your role or job level. That’s why it is crucial to ensure that your teams are aligned with one another and share an understanding of where your company is now, and where it’s headed.

Hiring the wrong people – When going through fast growth, there is also a risk of hiring the wrong people, who don’t align with the values and aspirations defined by your EVP and culture, or of promoting the wrong employees. Don’t let your need for “bums in seats” distract you from choosing the right people for your culture, every single time. While it may cause short term relief to hire or promote quickly, in the long term, putting the wrong person in place can erode confidence in leadership, affect morale, and derail the progress. Ultimately, a mis-hire can cost far more than a late hire.

Inadequate onboarding – Once you’ve hired the right talent, another mistake that can derail a culture-scaling project is onboarding that is rushed, incomplete, or even overlooked. When onboarding new employees is solely an administrative process, with the goal of getting brand new hires to work as soon as possible, you have missed an important opportunity to communicate your culture, your values, and to show your new hire that they are valued. Trust us, the first week leaves a lasting impact on new hires and is proven to impact employee retention. How people are welcomed and introduced to your culture sets the tone, and mistakes are very difficult to undo. You get one chance.

“Great employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%” 

Glassdoor Research

Find out more about how you can supercharge your employee onboarding process by focusing on their experience, ensuring they feel welcomed, included, and inspired by your brand and what attracted them to come and work for you in the first place.

What else should I consider when scaling culture?

Ensure goals and culture are in sync – Ensure your goals are aligned with and support your culture, tying the two together. Performance is important – but if you have, for example, a salesperson meeting all her targets, but detracting from your culture, you have a problem. Your culture isn’t just who you say you are, it’s made up of the behaviours you tolerate and encourage from others. So if you have a strong performer on your team who simply isn’t living your values or acting in accordance with your values, don’t just turn a blind eye. That person might be hitting their quotas but causing other high performers to leave. So, when faced with a culture detractor, deal with the issue directly and ensure that culture detractors aren’t rewarded for their behavior. And with all goals and objectives, make the effort to continually reinforce the “why” of what you’re doing – aligning your employees’ activities with the overall goal and vision.

Stay true to yourself – Throughout the process, stay true to the vision and goals that inspired you in the first place. There’s a reason you’re growing so quickly – it’s because you’re good at what you do. Don’t lose sight of your organization’s competencies, vision, values, and why you exist in the first place. 

Remember the people who got you here – Don’t forget your existing team. Rapid growth doesn’t mean you have to give up on retention – quite the opposite. Put the same effort into staying in touch with your existing employees as you do into onboarding newcomers. Your employees may see your growth as a threat to their own job security and place in the company. Don’t forget to communicate with the people who got you to where you are today and continue to maintain and build trust with them. They are, after all, your most valuable asset.

Communicate, communicate, communicate – Get everyone, including your new hires, on the same page. You’ll need to establish a regular cadence of communication to convey your vision, your progress, and what’s changing. And most importantly, celebrate successes and recognize the effort everyone makes – this can be done through a formalized rewards program or by sharing informal success stories with staff. What gets recognized, gets repeated, so ensure that you share success stories that reinforce the link between EVP and objective. And keep things fun – no matter how serious things get during times of change, remember to keep it light and enjoy what you’re doing.

A well-defined EVP will dramatically enhance both your reputation and your performance as you go through a period of fast growth. When your EVP reflects your culture and also demonstrates the connection between your growth strategy and your corporate values, you have what you need to move forward. Call Blu Ivy today at 647-308-2352  and let us help you build a powerful, distinctive employer that connects your current and new employees.

Blu Ivy helps clients from every industry ensure that while they’re scaling up, they’re also protecting the culture they’ve worked so hard to build. Contact us to chat more about how we can help build a model that works best for you.

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