The Love Central - How to Preserve Your Company Culture as You Scale Up Your Business
Organizational Culture

How to Preserve Your Company Culture as You Scale Up Your Business

Simon Sinek famously said, ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
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Scaling a business is exciting, but it can also threaten the very foundation of your success: your company culture.

As you grow, if care is not taken, you will realize that maintaining that special something which initially attracted and motivated your team will begin to feel like a herculean task.

This is why we’ve crafted this article to equip you with key strategies to help you preserve your company culture even as your business continues to scale up.

I. Define and Communicate Your Values

The foundation of a great culture lies in clearly defined values. These aren’t mere slogans on a website; they should be the guiding principles woven into the fabric of everyday operations.

As Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Advantage,” emphasizes, “Values should inform every decision you make, from who you hire to how you allocate resources.”

This requires a three-tiered approach:

1. Articulate with authenticity: Start by fostering dialogue within your leadership team, identifying the core values that truly define your organization.

What differentiates you from competitors? What principles drive your decision-making and interactions? Be authentic and specific, avoiding generic platitudes.

2. Live and breathe it: Don’t just write these values on a wall. Integrate them into daily practices. Celebrate employees who embody them, use them as lenses for decision-making, and weave them into performance reviews.

Gallup’s report on employee engagement highlights the impact of “living values,” demonstrating a 21% increase in employee engagement and a 19% rise in customer satisfaction compared to companies that merely articulate them.

3. Constant communication: Values shouldn’t be a one-time declaration. Regularly discuss them with new and existing employees through town halls, workshops, and even informal coffee chats.

Share stories of how values manifest in real-life situations and encourage open dialogue about upholding them. Regular reinforcement fosters understanding and alignment.

II. Hire for Culture Fit

Scaling often necessitates rapid recruitment. However, prioritizing speed over cultural fit is detrimental. Skills can be acquired, but values are inherent.

Look for individuals who resonate with your company’s DNA. Do they get excited about your mission? Do their personal values align with yours?

Conduct interviews that delve beyond technical skills, assessing cultural alignment through behavioral questions and scenario-based discussions.

Likewise, don’t just throw new hires into the deep end. Introduce them to your culture through dedicated onboarding programs that showcase your values and expectations.

III. Empower and Engage Your Team

Scaling often brings hierarchical structures, but remember, culture thrives on empowerment. This starts with delegating tasks and encouraging initiative. Trust your employees to make decisions, fostering a sense of responsibility and ownership.

Additionally, encourage open and honest communication across all levels. Create safe spaces for feedback, address concerns promptly, and ensure everyone feels heard and valued.

Remember, communication is a two-way street. Actively listen to your employees, and their insights will become invaluable tools for navigating growth while preserving your culture.

Recognize and reward employees who embody your values and contribute to the company’s success.

This doesn’t have to be grand gestures; a simple “thank you” or a public acknowledgment can go a long way. Recognition reinforces positive behaviors and keeps everyone motivated. As Dale Carnegie said, “People want to be appreciated, not depreciated.”

IV. Lead by Example

Leaders set the tone for any organization, and your company’s culture is no exception. Your actions and decisions speak volumes, so ensure they align with the values you espouse.

If you preach collaboration but operate in silos, your employees will see through the facade. Be authentic, lead by example, and your team will follow.

As Simon Sinek famously said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Lead with purpose, and your culture will reflect that purpose.

V. Invest in Your Employees

Your employees are the heart and soul of your company’s culture. Invest in their professional development and growth. Offer training opportunities, mentorship programs, and access to resources that help them excel.

This not only benefits your company by fostering a skilled and engaged workforce but also strengthens their connection to the organization and its values.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, wisely states, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.”

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Lead with purpose and your culture will reflect that purpose<br>Image credit freepik

VI. Measure and Track Your Efforts

Regularly assess the health of your culture. Conduct surveys, focus groups, and exit interviews to gather feedback. Track key metrics like employee engagement, turnover, and customer satisfaction.

Pay attention to subtle shifts, as they can signal potential cultural erosion. Proactive measurement allows you to identify areas for improvement and course-correct before issues escalate.

VII. Adapt and Evolve Your Culture

Culture is a living organism. As your company grows, it naturally evolves. Be open to constructive feedback, willing to adapt your values and practices to stay relevant and engaging.

However, maintain a core set of principles that define your unique identity. Dr. Edgar Schein, organizational culture guru, warns against “losing your soul” during growth. Remember that your roots are what nourish your branches.

Additionally, communicate changes transparently, involve employees in the process, and provide support to help everyone adjust.

Final Thoughts on Preserving Your Company’s Culture as You Scale Up Your Business

Preserving your company culture when the business is scaling is not an easy feat, but it is a necessary one.

By defining your values, hiring for cultural fit, empowering your team, fostering open communication, celebrating successes, adapting to change, leading by example, and investing in your people, you can navigate the scaling journey while retaining the heart and soul that made your company special.

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Read this article to discover how to navigate this platform and turn it into a springboard for your entrepreneurial dreams.

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1 month ago

I really appreciated your insights on preserving company culture during scaling. It’s a tightrope walk between growth and maintaining that unique vibe that makes a place special. Your point about hiring for cultural fit hits home. Finding people who gel with the company’s DNA is crucial.

If it matters, I believe integrating Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) could further help by identifying key influencers and collaboration networks within the company. It’s a neat way to see who’s really shaping the culture.

How do you think technology like ONA could play a role in preserving culture as a company grows?

Last edited 1 month ago by lucia-del-pino