6 Ways to Maintain a Strong Company Culture
As your business grows, it can be easy to get caught up in the rush of activity and excitement. But with growth comes challenges. As you transition from an organization that has a handful of employees to hundreds, don’t lose the intimacy and camaraderie of your startup days. With strategic planning, you can foster a company culture that affirms your key values and priorities.
1. Identify and Communicate Your Key Values
During the early days of a business, everyone is dedicated to a single goal — growth. You also have a small, scrappy group of true believers working for you. This can create an intimacy and shared mission that is deeply ingrained in those early employees. But workplace culture is never static.
An influx of new employees can naturally erode your company culture. New hires come in with minimal knowledge of your key values, traditions, and outlook. They didn’t experience those hectic, late-night planning sessions or the euphoria of early successes that solidified your bond with your first employees. However, a well-planned onboarding process and organizational structure can help acclimate them to your workplace.
During new-hire orientation, talk passionately about your company values and culture — and encourage new employees to buy into them. You can do this in a variety of ways:
- maintaining your company’s traditions (both big and small),
- creating policies that codify your values, and
- creating a leadership team that models your values in their day-to-day interactions.
2. Hire People Who Fit Your Company Culture
Just because someone has amazing credentials and covetable skills doesn’t make them a good fit for your business. You also need employees who embrace your values. When you’re hiring, create a process that assesses each candidate’s culture fit. Ask interview questions that assess candidates’ values. Do they value collaboration or entrepreneurial spirit like you do?
Many businesses have transitioned to a system of team interviews, rather than only performing one-on-ones. During a team interview, you can evaluate how a candidate interacts with their potential colleagues — and your team can provide additional (and valuable) insight into the candidates’ capabilities and identify potential red flags. You can also offer job seekers more casual opportunities to ask questions and explore your workplace culture with their potential peers.
While you want to look for people that can assimilate easily into your culture and workplace, you have to be careful that a desire for culture fit doesn’t result in discrimination. Your workplace culture isn’t grounded in race, gender, ethnicity, or other identities. Instead, it’s about outlook and passion. You can encourage a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds while still maintaining your company’s ethos.
3. Recognize Your Employees’ Achievements
Showing your appreciation for your team’s contributions is an easy way to foster the intimacy that you loved during your startup days. Celebrate your employees’ milestones, whether its their birthdays, work anniversaries, or major accomplishments. When you recognize their personal and professional value, you’ll affirm their importance to your organization.
4. Foster an Open Door Policy
One of the easiest ways to lose your workplace culture is to hide in your office. As a leader, you need to understand the daily challenges of your employees and provide thought leadership. If you’re locked in your office on phone calls all day, you’re going to lose touch.
Instead, you should spend time with your employees and understand their day-to-day operations. Some offices get rid of the corner offices and place leaders’ desks alongside their teams. Others participate in ride alongs or listening sessions. Find a way to stay close to the pulse of your company.
Then, build systems and policies that help facilitate your employees’ success. If you identify a problem in your operations, help them create a solution.
5. Invest in Your Team
While compensation packages are important, it’s not enough to maintain loyalty and workplace morale. Your business should empower your employees by offering professional development, valuing work-life balance, and building systems that encourage input and meaningful dialogue.
When employees feel like their company has faith in the abilities and wants them to grow, they’re more likely to perform well. Look for ways you can establish mentoring networks, offer training, and develop your team’s talents.
6. Culture Comes From the Top
Leadership is more than approving budgets and signing performance reviews. You need to offer your team insight and perspective into the business’ goals, mission, and culture. If you and your leadership team don’t embrace your business’ culture, neither will your employees.
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