Growth is good for your company. It means more customers and more money…and more employees to keep up with the demand. Change is inevitable when small companies expand, and many worry that maturity and growth will disrupt company culture. This doesn’t have to be the case; growing smartly will help ensure you keep your corporate vision alive while maintaining your culture and values. Doing so will allow you to embrace the future instead of longing wistfully for the “good ol’ days.”
Start-up companies are in an enviable position because there is a lot of flexibility and freedom. When there are only a few people on the team and your office is small, communication is simple; often it requires nothing more than raising your voice. Routines are less regimented—job duties often overlap—and it’s easier to foster social connections with your coworkers. But as you scale up, practices that you took for granted change.
The following tips will help you maintain your company culture as you grow.
Define Your Culture
You can’t maintain your culture if you don’t know what it is. Make it a point to define your organization’s mission, core values, and long-term vision—and share this with both current and future employees. Rather than mentioning this once during the on-boarding process, remind your staff constantly. A mission statement in the company manual isn’t enough; keep this information top-of-mind by emphasizing it constantly through weekly meetings, training sessions, internal emails, posters in common areas, and other activities. Reward employees who promote your values and champion your culture.
Adding new people to the mix always brings uncertainty. You’ll want to hire the brightest, most qualified person for the job, but personality is every bit as important as talent. Skills can be taught, but a person’s attitude is unlikely to change. Hire the people you feel share your vision and will best fit in with your existing employees. Be sure to talk about your organization’s values during the interview process so your expectations are clear from the start. Remember, diversity is key; don’t worry about age gaps or gender—a good mix of people will bring different perspectives to the table, proving beneficial to long-term success.
Keep Employees Engaged
When you were just starting out, afternoon gatherings around the water cooler (or maybe you had a keg) might have been a daily occurrence, but more business translates to less free time. This doesn’t mean you have to eliminate get-togethers entirely; they just require a little extra planning. Try incorporating office potlucks, casual Fridays, after-hours bowling matches, and other team-building activities to encourage interaction between employees.
Communication often suffers as companies go from little to big and employees are segmented into teams or departments. Managers can help avoid this by making themselves accessible and encouraging open lines of communication at all times. Share important information with the entire company, even if it doesn’t impact all employees. Knowledge isn’t just power; it also helps to empower individuals and gives them a sense of ownership and pride.
Lead By Example
Leading by example helps to reinforce company culture; don’t just talk about your values, demonstrate them through your actions. Step away from your desk and meet with people in different departments regularly—visit the assembly line, ride along with the delivery driver, attend a creative brainstorming meeting. Conduct individual check-in meetings once a week to show employees you value their contributions and are invested in their success.
Looking to join the team at EGM? Check out the open opportunities here.