How to Grow Your Workforce without Sacrificing Your Culture

A businessman is looking at a number of photo portraits on the wall

A recent CEO asked me, “How can we grow our workforce without sacrificing our Culture?”  For any leader, the risk of sacrificing your culture is real.  If your strategic success depends on growing your workforce fast, you do not have to sacrifice your culture on the altar of speed.

In our twenty-five years of culture change and change management consulting we have learned that a clear business strategy must come first. In fact, our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.  But your workforce growth strategy will likely not survive or succeed if you do not have your talent and your corporate culture aligned with your overall talent management plan for the future.

Why?  Because a strategy, any strategy, must go through your culture to get executed.

And when it comes to strategy execution, typically that means changing the way you recruit and hire when your workforce needs to grow fast to make sure you are not sacrificing your culture.

Let’s say you have thoughtfully crafted and communicated your growth strategy. It involves adding talent.  And you know just what behavioral competencies make sense for your desired future. Now is when you must not only articulate your desired workplace culture but also hire directly for it by clearly identifying the following three areas to reduce the risk of sacrificing your culture:

  • What your current high performing employees value most about the way your organization operates.  Is your environment more structured or informal? Hierarchical or flat? Team- or individual-oriented? Traditional or innovative? Clearly define what makes your corporate culture tick in terms of what keeps your employees happy and engaged in their work in a way that will move your business strategy forward.Do not underestimate this step.  Culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing organizations.  Companies who align their culture with their strategy report 286% more value to stakeholders and have employees that are 2-4 times more productive.
  • The core values of the candidates you want to hire. For instance, will they be more content working on their own or as part of a collaborative team? Don’t hire a lone wolf if you need them to cooperate with team mates to get the job done.  To get this right, dig beneath the corporate slogans and posters by identifying what really matters most in terms of “Being – how things get done” and “Doing – the expected results.” Then attract, hire, develop, engage and retain people who match.Unfortunately, too many companies are not clear enough about where they want employees to be on the “Being-Doing Scale” in terms of “doing it the right way” versus “delivering results.”  You often cannot have both.  What makes sense to best execute your strategy?
  • How to best stay in touch with your employees. Change will come hard. Stay connected. Reach out often to know what they are thinking and feeling so you can handle any issues that arise before they become overwhelming.  Create easy paths for a two-way dialogue of open and honest communication.

Want to learn about changing corporate culture?  Download The 4 Do’s and 3 Don’ts of Culture Change Now

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