How to Protect Culture During Rapid Growth
While rapid growth companies (20%+ per year) can be very exciting and meaningful places to work, high growth puts high pressure on organizational culture. At a high level, we define culture as the way things get done on a day-to-day basis. Most leaders look to protect culture during rapid growth by holding on to the meaningful values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and assumptions that enabled them to be successful so far.
Six Times When Culture Becomes a Crisis
We have found corporate cultures to be most vulnerable during periods of major change. During change, operational approaches, decision making boundaries, social norms, risk tolerance levels, go-to-market approaches and beliefs about customer and employee centricity can weaken or become misaligned. And once sacred cultural norms are lost, they can be very difficult to recover.
Based upon almost thirty years of client work, we have found culture can become a crisis when:
Corporate Culture Matters
Many still mistakenly believe that culture is “soft people stuff” that can be deprioritized because it does not have a quantifiable impact on business performance. Successful leaders know better. They understand and leverage their culture to outperform their competition.
High Growth Creates High Pressure
Because strategy must go through people and culture to get implemented, forward-thinking leaders seek to protect and align culture during rapid growth. They know success is dependent on how their teams work together toward executing their strategy. They know culture can make or break their ability to scale gracefully in terms of organizational structures, processes and systems.
How To Maintain a Healthy, High Performing and Aligned Culture
How do you maintain a healthy, vibrant culture during hyper growth? How can even the most sophisticated and committed CEOs continue to have a real influence on the culture when:
Some Wise Advice
We have seen companies at the rapid growth stage sacrifice their positive and meaningful culture to the pressures of rapid growth…only to regret it later. Here are some tips for company leaders on how to protect culture during rapid growth:
1. Make Hiring Right a #1 Priority
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, turnover from poor cultural fit can cost an organization between 50-60% of the person’s annual salary. New hires that don’t fully align with existing or desired cultural norms typically underperform and decrease team engagement levels. Conversely, our own employee engagement data tells us that employees who are strong culture fits, report greater levels of:
While recruiting and interviewing is certainly time consuming, don’t pass off your responsibility to hire top talent to others. Because your new hires will have a major impact on your culture, stay heavily involved in the selection process. You want to hire for cultural fit and build a high performing team that lasts.
2. Reward High Performers and Help Underperformers and Cultural Misfits Improve or Move On
Let’s start with high performers. Top companies know that different talent contributes different levels of value. Make sure you have a plan in place to identify, develop, engage, reward and retain your top performers who are most aligned with high growth and where the company is headed.
On the other side of the performance scale, poor performers and employees who struggle to scale with the business drag down the motivation and commitment of workers who perform at or above the agreed-upon performance and behavior standards. If under-performance or behavior misalignment is ignored, your high performers and cultural champions are liable to disengage or leave.
During rapid growth, invest the time required to:
3. Monitor and Sustain Organizational Health
We define organizational health as the corporate values and behaviors that are consistently lived across an organization. In general:
Health is an important component to protect culture during rapid growth. Similar to employee engagement, organizational health can be measured on a “bad-to-good” scale in terms of leadership, trust, capabilities and climate.
While organizational health rarely, in and of itself, differentiates the performance of one company from another, there are absolutely minimum levels of health that must be attained during periods of high growth. During growth and change, make sure you monitor and improve organizational health as a foundational building block of your talent management strategy to attract, develop, engage and retain top talent.
4. Align Your Culture (the How) With Your Growth Plans (the What)
Exponential growth and change in the business usually create cultural misalignments for how the strategic work gets done. Because strategy must go through culture and people to get implemented, leaders must reassess cultural norms and priorities as often as they reassess go-to-market strategies.
To ensure you protect culture during rapid growth and that your culture is ready to grow gracefully with your business, take a look at your current and desired culture across ten proven dimensions. Then determine where you need to shift your culture (the how) to support your rapid growth strategy (the what) on the cultural scale for:
The Bottom Line
Your organizational culture can be an asset or a liability to your growth plans. If you want to protect culture during rapid growth, you need to prioritize and realign what matters most. You will be glad you did.
To learn more about how to protect culture during rapid growth, download The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture
How Managers Can Make Better Decisions
How to Grow Existing Accounts Faster
How to Learn New Skills Faster
Each program is preceded by an assessment of the participants. The course is then designed to fit the specific parameters and needs of the group. The highly interactive delivery is provided by recognized experts in their fields. On the spot coaching is provided during the program and each participant receives individual follow-up after the course. Courses can be delivered in-person or virtually. Given the nature of Cisco’s business and the way we operate, these remote workshops are a must for anyone who joins our company. Their work is eye opening. Great content and fantastic delivery.
Frank J. Kuypers
Business Development Manager
Harmonic has worked with LSA for over 8 years. We have found their partnership extremely beneficial. We recently implemented a Management Development Program that was designed and customized to support our company’s strategic initiative of hiring, building, and retaining key intellectual property and human talent. We worked closely with LSA to target and implement the right solutions with the greatest impact. I would recommend LSA to any company that’s looking for a trusted training and development partner.
Director of Human Resources
LSA has been a tremendous asset to my portfolio, both at my current company and my past company. As an HR leader, I am always looking for ways to find external resources that can provide a solution to our management training needs. LSA does that for me. Their solutions are presented in a much more leadership-oriented manner so as to be crisp, business relevant, and easy to apply right back on the job. I will continue to augment our programs using LSA solutions.
VP of Human Resources
We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR
I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership development and management expertise and quality of advice and facilitation that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help leaders attract, engage, develop and retain top talent.
Director, HR Business Partner
We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.
We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.
Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager
LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.
Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources
The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.
Vice President, Information Technology
Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.
President and Chief Executive Office
We consider LSA our true business partner in the areas of Learning and Organizational Development. From Strategic Planning to Presentation Skills and Management Training, they continue to provide excellent value and extremely high quality solutions – not just one time events. I recommend them to anyone looking to drive true business results.
Michelle A. Mitchell
Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources
We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.
Director of Global Recruiting
Understanding and conforming to legal compliance was very important to our company. We turned to LSA Global to provide a quality and cost effective way to ensure that we were AB 1825 compliant. Their interactive eLearning program was top-notch. It allowed our managers to learn at their own pace, and on their own time. The program was tailored to include our logo and our internal harassment policies. It was interactive and met all federal and state legal requirements. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company looking for an efficient and effective and top quality way to train their managers to be in compliance.
Kelly Warren, SPHR
Director, HR & Compliance
Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.
Workforce Planning Bureau
Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.
Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations? Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.
Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.
First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.
Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.
Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.