Small businesses often take on a culture of their own from the very beginning. The founder and first employees help to create this company culture, and in the best of circumstances they pass it along to those who come along later. However, culture can also get lost when a company grows quickly. This leaves both old and new employees feeling confused about where they fit in and what is expected of them.
The company culture can also become unhealthy as people react in negative ways to the stress of change and uncertainty. Below are some tips for maintaining a healthy work culture no matter how much your company grows.
Assign Some Employees the Role of Guarding the Company Culture
While you’re busy scaling your business, the current work culture may be the last thing on your mind. However, just because you don’t have the time to tend to it doesn’t mean that it’s not important. Before your company grows too large, make sure that you assign at least a few key employees the task of keeping an eye on the current culture and the challenges of employees to work within it.
Be sure to set aside time to meet with these people regularly so you don’t lose site of what is happening with your own workers. Listen carefully to the feedback from the culture guardians as well as their ideas on how to address specific issues. The people you choose for this task should be good role models whom other employees already respect and want to emulate. When new employees come on board, they will quickly get a feel for the accepted work culture by modeling these individuals.
No matter how fast your company grows, remember to keep your focus on people. They are the culture, after all. Let employees know that you welcome their feedback and contributions and will consider it carefully when making future changes.
Create a Cultural Tradition That is Easy to Replicate
Even in the first days of operating a business, you and your employees are busy creating future traditions. For example, maybe each person works with a local charity during the holiday season to buy gifts for one needy child who might otherwise not receive anything. It could also be something inside of your company, such as starting every meeting by asking each participant to give a 60-second recap of their day.
What you choose to do isn’t as important as carrying it forward to involve all future employees. It gives people a sense of belonging when they feel part of something that has gone on for years.
Lastly, make sure that you also understand the culture of your customers and people you deal with outside of the company. This is especially important if you conduct business on an international level. Study it, respond accordingly, and don’t be afraid to admit when you have interpreted something wrong. This shows your willingness to grow as well as respect for the other person’s culture.
If you’d like to discuss ways to preserve the company culture of your business, Business Partner Alliance is here for you. We provide targeted coaching, consulting and business advisory services to help small and medium sized business owners achieve new heights. We put our passion and experience to work to help business people achieve their goals. Let’s meet for coffee to see how we can work together.