Safeguarding your company culture during times of growth can feel a lot like trying to navigate the murky waters of an expanding clique of grade school friends at res.
Sure, it’s great that your little group of marble players or rope jumpers managed to attract new members based on the epic amount of fun you were having, but how do you accommodate the newcomers without losing your 'it' factor? Do you need to move from your coveted space next to the snoepie to make room for the larger crowd? Will everyone still get a turn to shoot or jump at every break time, or will you need to expand the roster to flow over into second break?
These are serious matters when you’re 10 years old and the grown-up, change-at-work version is just as intense. After all, when you have the immense privilege to work for a business with a happy, healthy corporate culture, the idea that it might change is pretty scary. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the best bits of an organisational culture intact while you welcome and embrace expansion.
Here are 5 ways to keep your company culture intact during times of change:
1. Define your culture clearly
Start by defining the aspects that make your work environment a welcoming and supportive one. To pinpoint it in a way that is easy to communicate, break it down in terms of vision, mission and values.
Values refer to your company's 'true north' - the guiding principles that underpin what your team believes and feels, and how they act and work together. Vision is what you aspire to be; it's where you want to head as you grow and evolve. Your mission, on the other hand, is your reason for being - it sums up the point of your business.
When you pen down these vital aspects of your culture, it's very important that you do so authentically. If it's all fluff and no substance, those pretty words are going to stay right there on the page, never making it into your boardroom, offices or canteen. Sit down with all your major role-players and take the time to get right down to the heart of things so you are able to communicate your quintessence clearly to your existing team members as well as new recruits.
2. Onboard new recruits effectively
Speaking of new recruits, your next step should be to onboard these fresh faces effectively.
If you're serious about keeping your culture intact, it starts on the first day your new team members arrive. In fact, it starts a little sooner than that - you can and should hire for culture fit! - but it's also super important that you take the time to walk new employees through the ways of doing and being while you're showing them the how and where of it all.
Make sure that every person who's involved in the onboarding process understands and values the purpose thereof. An impersonal conveyor belt approach is not going to have the desired effect. Instead, each member of the onboarding team should be fully invested in the future success of the new recruit and take them under their wing by showing them the physical and cultural ropes.
3. Lead from the top down
When it comes to safeguarding a positive culture, your leaders have to step up and lead by example.
People in managerial positions have to live your company values in a way that is visible to existing and new employees. Take a look around and identify the head honchos who are doing it right and hold them up as an example for the rest. Be verbal about your culture - discuss it at weekly meetings, conduct two-way performance reviews so employees and managers can weigh in on their experience of one another, etc.
4. Embrace traditions
Traditions, no matter how silly, are the glue that binds a culture.
Creating a funny collage to go on the front of a birthday card may not seem like it's pivotal to how your business runs, but these are little cornerstones of the employee experience that should not be underestimated. Celebrate the old traditions and embrace new ones that may develop over time as new talent joins the team - just be sure that it's all in good fun and aligns with your vision, mission and values of course.
5. Use recognition to reinforce
Here is yet another example of how employee recognition and reward can be used to create the work environment you dream of. Establish a recognition program that provides rewards for behaviours that demonstrates core values and watch how employee engagement blossoms! By removing ambiguity and giving employees clear-cut examples of the type of culture-boosting moves you value as a team, you make it that much easier to follow suit.
Following these guidelines during times of rapid growth will allow you to safeguard your existing company culture to the best of your ability.
In the meantime, if you want to formalise employee recognition and reward in a tangible way to promote behaviours that are in line with your company purpose, we invite you to take a gander at our employee engagement platform.
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