The start-up market is fierce, competitive, and demanding. Founders, leaders, and teams are continuously thriving to gain investor confidence and fetch funding opportunities. While raising capital and obtaining investor trust is positive for scaling the business; rapid growth may come at a cost.
Growth in business means a growing team and a larger influx of human capital. When start-ups experience growth, the biggest challenge for them is the ability to maintain company culture. Rapid expansion can impact the values of the company and leave business owners making desperate attempts to protect the core values that they had initially nurtured from the start.
What are the challenges of maintaining company culture during growth and expansion?
Company culture refers to the values, beliefs, and attitudes that serve as guiding principles for everyone in an organization. The benefits of a strong corporate culture are both intuitive and supported by social science. Culture can account for 20-30 percent of the differential in corporate performance when compared with culturally unremarkable competitors.
During periods of accelerated growth, the company culture may become difficult to maintain. As more employees are taken aboard, there are chances that some of the new workers may not carry the same values or may not act according to the beliefs of the company.
Communication also becomes an integral element. The more the influx of people, the more the channels of communication – which means that this increases the chances of information being processed and perceived differently. This can ultimately have adverse effects on employee engagement and employee well-being.
10 Ways to maintain company culture during growth
Listed below are 10 expert strategies to follow while trying to maintain your company culture while accepting investment and during times of rapid growth:
1. You need to define your company culture
To start off with, you must have a clear sense of what your company culture is. Evaluate, re-evaluate, and understand your corporate values, beliefs, and attitudes that make up your company. Identify which values and beliefs have contributed to your growth and the company’s success.
2. Regulating your recruitment processes is another important step
Follow a mindful recruitment approach. Focus on inducting candidates who seem to align well with the company values and corporate culture. In other words, focus on hiring an employee who will ‘add’ to your values and refrain from hiring just the ‘right fit.’
Employee retention was the top workforce management challenge cited by 47% of HR professionals in an SHRM Survey. Therefore, your recruitment strategy should focus on long-term hiring and correlate with the employee retention goals of the company.
3. Another way is to communicate clearly and consistently
Regular and transparent communication is pertinent to business success. As a founding member, don’t shy away from repeatedly reinforcing the values, beliefs, and mission of your company. Talk about how you continue to endorse a strong corporate culture.
4. You can lead by example
It stands true that employees follow in the footsteps of their role models. As a founder of your start-up, always remember that your workers will follow and channel your positive traits, abilities, and liabilities. The company culture or value system that is followed in the organization is a reflection of your leadership.
5. Review and revise company culture from time to time
Company culture is identified and defined at the inception stage. However, as we revise and update our strategies to accommodate change, corporate culture also requires review and needs to be updated based on the changing dynamics and the needs of your employees.
6. Establish a strong foundation
It is important to ensure that your values, policies, processes, systems, and attitudes are firm and strong before you begin to scale your business. Develop a rock-solid foundation that can weather periods of critical change. Focus on maintaining a people-oriented business approach, incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion at the workplace, and introduce recruitment policies that focus on hiring ‘values’ as compared to hiring the ‘perfect fit.’
“A strong foundation is having clarity, processes, accountability, and goals. Understanding where you are going gives you massive leverage when it comes to negotiating with potential investors, vendors, and talent.” – Evan Carte, Lady Jaye
7. Promote positive connections in the workplace
Encourage employees to indulge in frequent informal interactions through random coffee meetings and allow them to develop better work relationships. Float the idea of coworkers casually meeting outside the workplace in an effort to promote friendly conversations and camaraderie.
As we are witnessing a sharp rise in remote work employment, make use of virtual coffee meetings or coffee chats to remain connected with your remote employees. A positive connection with remote workers will enhance employee engagement and employee well-being.
8. Encourage empathy and understanding within the organization
Empathy is the ability to relate to and understand other people’s feelings or experiences. It is important to understand that every employee differs from the others in terms of values, beliefs, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds.
Different types of people in your company will work individually or as groups on multiple tasks while trying to achieve business targets. You must develop a company culture where you empathize, understand, and respect that workers hold different perspectives. Your empathy and ability to understand these differences can bring about a sense of belonging and increase employee productivity.
9. Try to develop a flexible plan in the workplace
Have a flexible plan in place, should your company experience accelerated growth. Develop guidelines and processes for dealing with increased recruitment activities, onboarding programs, and training plans whereby new employees are made aware of the company culture, values, and expectations.
10. Treasure and value the talent
The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. A comprehensive employee retention program can play a vital role in both attracting and retaining key employees, as well as in reducing turnover and its related costs.
Retention is a key concern during periods of rapid growth. Experienced employees are well acquainted with the company culture thus, it is important to identify your top talent and develop effective retention strategies to ensure that talented employees choose to continue their attachment with your organization at a critical time of hypergrowth.