3 Ways to Shape Culture During High Growth

3 Ways to Shape Culture During High Growth
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Shape Culture During High Growth
While work cultures certainly shift overtime, many leaders assume that their culture will deteriorate as they experience hyper-growth.  How can a leader shape culture during high growth?  Especially the positive aspects of the organizational culture that are so important to get you where you want to go.

Cultural Areas That Often Deteriorate During Rapid Growth
Small, high-performing team-based and innovative cultures of smaller companies often fall victim to high growth in a few areas:

  • Hiring: The increased recruiting pressure to fill open requisitions to meet demand can negatively impact hiring decisions when hiring managers settle for less talented or less culturally aligned candidates.
  • Connections: With the influx of new employees and increased spans of control, it is difficult to create and nurture the same high levels of relationships, camaraderie and trust across the company.
  • Rewards and Recognition: While high growth typically means greater rewards, many high growth companies struggle to align reward and recognition systems with their desired corporate culture and have less time to celebrate successes and keep employees engaged.

All three of the above symptoms of rapidly growing start-ups affect culture as it overlaps with employee engagement.  And none of the three need to be sacrificed on the altar of “growth at all costs.”  You just need to think different. You need to purposefully shape culture during high growth.

Start-up Leaders Define the Company Culture
The founders of start-up companies have a huge impact on the culture of their organization. They set the tone, hire the employees, and are directly involved in every customer “win” because there are no “extra” levels between them and their customers.   They are intimately involved in all aspects of running the business.

This intimacy is hard to preserve once the company begins to ramp up in size.  But it can, and should, be done if you want to sustain the culture that nurtured your success in the first place and retain the employees who supported that success.

3 Ways to Shape Culture During High Growth
First you need to figure out just what the positive aspects of your culture are, what activities nurtured them, and then commit to selecting a few of the operational processes you are NOT going to scale.  This is the only way you can ensure that you keep your culture healthy and strong for as long as you can.

Here are three key areas you need to continue to supervise and participate in:

1. Hiring
First, don’t settle for B-level employees just to keep the ball rolling. Second, don’t delegate the hiring process to others who may not be as exacting as you need them to be. Do what it takes to get the quality hires you need to be successful.

The better new employees perform and fit, the stronger your culture will be.

2. Mentoring
Early on, small companies typically depend on experts teaching and coaching others to get work done. This is how you forged the path to success…mentoring one another to build the strengths needed to reach the goals.

Don’t let this critical aspect of helping people grow professionally be sacrificed to the pressures of scaling.  Lead by example; schedule “open” office hours so employees can sign up to spend time with you one-on-one.  Difficult as it is to carve out such time slots, we have found that it pays off in more efficient, focused efforts on the part of the employees who participate.

3. Celebrating
Leaders who are out of touch with their workforce miss the chance to congratulate individual employees for their superior performance or celebrate reaching all-company goals. Recognize the wins as they occur.  Share the progress.  It will boost motivation and productivity.

The Bottom Line
The positive aspects of small and start-up cultures can be preserved even during rapid growth if you determine to make the effort to do so.

To learn more about how to shape culture during high growth, download The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture

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