An extraordinary culture can draw talented candidates to your company like moths to a porch light. That’s why protecting and preserving the culture even as a company grows is of utmost importance to leaders.
But considering that organizational culture is a nebulous phenomenon rather than a well-defined system, this can be easier said than done. If your organization is growing and you want to make sure the culture keeps pace, try the following four tips to keep both on the same page.
Document Company Values
What it is in particular that makes your company’s culture unique? Employees’ collaborative energy? Their competitive spirit? An organizational quest for innovation? Take some of the vagueness out of the equation by defining a handful of core values or attributes that employees should ascribe to and exemplify.
For example, HubSpot’s culture is all about displaying HEART — an acronym standing for Humble, Effective, Adaptable, Remarkable, and Transparent. And this just isn’t a code hidden in an HR handbook or slapped on a poster. CTO Dharmesh Shah documented HEART for the world in this SlideShare that has received over 1.5 million views to date. With this resource, there’s no confusion as to what HubSpot’s culture stands for, which helps job candidates understand if they would be a good fit.
Culture is a living, breathing entity that’s created by the people in your organization. With this in mind, it pays off to hire carefully and deliberately as the company grows. Interviews shouldn’t just aim to uncover competence. HR leaders should coach hiring managers to evaluate candidates for culture fit as well.
If one cultural mis-hire slips in, no problem. As long as the rest of the workforce lives the culture, the bad hire will feel out of place and likely leave of their own accord. It’s only when many bad hires are brought on board and dilute the culture that the system stops self-regulating. This is why hiring slowly and correctly is critical.
When an employee does something that exemplifies the culture, they should be rewarded. This isn’t so hard to do at start-up size — the CEO can send a company-wide email thanking the person, or walk across the room and publicly compliment them. But as the company grows, the direct connection between leadership and employees gets stretched thinner and thinner.
To make sure employees still earn well-deserved recognition as the company expands, managers would be smart to incorporate a systematic recognition program that broadcasts actions in line with the culture to teams, divisions, or even the entire organization. This reinforces culturally acceptable behavior in individuals and alerts other employees as to what traits and actions are desirable and worthy of emulation.
Get Leadership on Board
Employees often judge what’s acceptable in a company on the actions and behavior of its leadership. Therefore, senior leaders need to embrace their roles as unofficial stewards of company culture. For example, if transparency is a core cultural tenet, the CEO shouldn’t hide information from the employees. If they do, they implicitly negate this rule and make it okay for employees to skirt the truth with their colleagues.
Fast growth is the dream for every start-up, but expanding too quickly can spell the demise of a strong company culture. To achieve true organizational scalability and sustainability, leaders should always keep growth in check with the culture.