By Young Entrepreneur Council @yec
Most startups want to achieve rapid growth. However, you can’t just scale up your staff and your production output — you also need to be able to scale your company culture.
As your business expands, you need to continually check in with your leadership team to ensure that they’re promoting and maintaining a cohesive culture. This can be easier said than done, but it’s essential if you want your company to succeed in the long run.
Based on advice from successful entrepreneurs, here are seven ways to create an incredible company culture while you’re quickly growing and changing.
Lead by example.
Leaders are often advised to “lead by example,” and this is especially true of your company’s culture. Daniel Griggs, founder and CEO of ATX Web Designs, notes that culture starts at the top — and when leadership is in line with company values, the ethos will spread to the rest of the team.
“Culture is about the experience and overall energy of the collective group,” Griggs says. “At ATX Web Designs, we’re communicative about our company culture from the beginning and incorporate it within our team through both direct implementation and modeling.”
Keep your desired culture in mind when you’re hiring.
While skills and experience are important considerations when expanding your team, you should also think about how someone’s personality and work ethic will fit into your existing company culture, says Jennifer A. Barnes, CEO of Optima Office.
“You need to hire people who already fit within your culture,” she says. “I look for someone who is quick-witted and intelligent. It’s also important to find someone you like — someone you know would work well with you.”
Break down your culture into actionable behaviors.
Some companies simply treat their “culture” as an abstract mission statement. Abeer Raza, co-founder of TekRevol, argues that culture goes beyond a plaque on the wall and must be embodied through actions.
“Your company culture is the collective practices and beliefs of your people, and those need to be broken down into actionable components to make a substantive impact,” Raza explains. “Break down your culture into values, values into attributes and attributes into rituals that reflect your ideal work environment, and let your people thrive in it.”
Make time to get to know each of your employees.
Founders with just a few employees tend to work very closely with each of their team members and, therefore, get to know them well. To maintain your culture as you grow, Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms, says you must continue to make that time to learn about each new employee.
“Even though your time is limited, squeeze in a few minutes each day to socialize with your team and learn about their lives,” Wells adds.
Encourage interpersonal communication.
The best way to keep a cohesive culture is by ensuring that everyone has the same values and vision for the company, says Syed Balkhi, co-founder of WPBeginner — and part of that is encouraging employees to get to know each other on a personal level. Balkhi has designated spaces in his company chat program for non-work conversations that help people learn more about each other.
“We include multiple channels on Slack, including ‘Family,’ so employees can get to know each other and weave a culture that is built on trust, fun and hard work,” Balkhi says.
Recognize employee wins (even the small ones).
Cooper Harris, founder and CEO of Klickly, says that an important part of creating a cohesive culture is making your employees feel needed.
“It’s so easy to focus solely on upcoming business KPIs instead of acknowledging past achievements,” she says. “Recognizing the wins of every single employee is crucial.”
For example, Harris says Klickly recently implemented MVP nominations to reward outstanding employees, which has become a monthly celebration of individual contributions.
Focus on your mission above all else.
According to Colton Gardner, founder and COO of Neighbor, most people think “culture” simply means activities, jokes, policies, etc. However, the only thing that creates lasting cohesion at a rapidly growing startup is a mission that supersedes the team itself, he says.
“The mission must be so great and personally meaningful that it borders on intimidating,” says Gardner. “A team will build their entire lives around such a mission.”
PUBLISHED ON: JUN 24, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.