Business expansion is, in most ways, a good thing. It means the company is thriving, attracting new clients and customers, and creating more jobs. But expansion can present new challenges. It is not uncommon for a company to lose sight of its core culture during this time. However, these are the very principles and values that guided the business to succeed and allowed it to expand.
Company culture can suffer when there are increases in staff numbers as well as when a company branches out into new offices and regions. The greater the number of people that are involved in a company, the harder it can become for the company to retain its identity and stay true to its culture.
For a small startup with a handful of employees, staying dedicated to a company culture is easy, but when the startup becomes larger and more established with staff in multiple locations, that is when company culture can be negatively impacted.
However, that needn’t be the case. There are a few effective ways to make sure company culture remains strong no matter how large, or how quickly, a business grows. Here’s what you need to know:
Deeply Ingrain Company Culture into the Business
Company culture goes beyond a catchy phrase that sounds good to prospective clients. Instead, it has to be a central theme that inspires every decision a business makes. These include which people to hire, how to deal with customers and clients, the types of products and services to offer, and how staff are expected to work and interact with one another.
It is important to make the company culture explicit right from the start. It should be the driving force of the business. Every decision that is made on behalf of the company, internally and externally, should be based on its desired culture. This will make it easier for both experienced staff members and new recruits to adopt the same outlook.
It’s why it is so important to establish the company culture early. It’s much easier to implement in a small team and then keep those values strong as the company expands than it is to decide on a culture when there is a large workforce when many could be resistant to change.
So, how to effectively integrate a company culture that continues to thrive as a business expands? As mentioned, it starts predominantly with the people. Employees are the lifeblood of any company. It is their hard work, loyalty, and talent that help to determine whether a business succeeds or fails. If all staff members are dedicated to the company culture and understand its significance, everyone can pull in the same direction.
Create a Company Culture Deck
Additionally, commit the company culture to paper so it becomes tangible and a constant reminder of what the business stands for. Writing a company culture deck is one way to achieve this.
A company culture deck is essentially a reference point, usually presented in a slideshow, that lays out precisely what the business aims to represent. This includes information like the company’s core values, principles, mission, history, and ambitions.
This provides all employees, clients, and potential new recruits an exact guide on the things the company considers the most important and how employees should represent it. The culture deck should be made easily accessible, whether on the company website and/or as part of a welcome pack.
By making the company culture the most important facet of a business—as important as revenue and profits—it will become deeply ingrained in all employees, no matter how much the business expands.
Keep Company Culture at the Core of the Hiring Process
When companies expand, that inevitably means the recruitment of more employees. This is where company culture can deteriorate as there is a risk that new recruits are unfamiliar with the values the business holds most dear. It is therefore imperative that the hiring process places even more emphasis on how well a recruit will fit in with the company culture than simply on experience, qualifications, and ability.
Tailoring the recruitment process to find potential employees who share the same values as the company will allow the business to hire using a more holistic approach. This in turn will help recruiters identify people who are the right fit. Using a team approach when interviewing is a popular method. It allows the hiring manager the chance to see how the recruit interacts with potential colleagues.
This can become more challenging when a company expands to the point where the CEO is no longer involved in every hiring decision, which leads to the next point.
Foster Loyalty and Rely on Trustworthy Allies
A strong company culture can only be maintained by a collective, not just one person at the top. It’s important that the business has dedicated and trustworthy ambassadors who constantly perpetuate these values.
These will be people in positions of authority who would have earned their seniority and demonstrated loyalty to the company—and as an extension, to the company culture. They can be entrusted to ensure the company’s principles remain at the center of the business.
It is particularly important for a company to have these ambassadors during the expansion process. These individuals will be responsible for recruiting the right people and for embodying and enforcing the culture on a day-to-day basis.