If you want your culture to survive, you must to learn how to adapt
There’s really nothing like the feeling of walking into your office when business is good and the culture is prosperous. The times when energy is high and everyone is wearing a smile are truly great. However, times like these—when business is increasing and your company is growing—signify a forthcoming issue: How will you maintain this amazing culture as your company grows?
Truthfully, it pains me to call it an issue, because great culture means great success, and that success means growth. Maintaining the same cultural dynamic, though, can be difficult. If it helps at all, at least you’re not forced to adapt or change your culture because it’s failing, so at times, company culture is a bit of a matter of perspective. That said, let’s take a look at the contour of why you’ll need to adapt your culture as your company grows.
A growing company means….what, exactly?
A growing company can mean several things. From the five stages of small business growth and beyond (large companies can and do grow, quite regularly), a number of changing factors present issues for your company culture. Here are a few of the more significant potential changes:
- Larger workforce: As your company grows, there’s a very good chance that you’ll need to hire more employees. More employees means needing more managers. It can also mean better management, and that leads me to #2.
- Better workforce: Let’s face it, some areas of your workforce may need improvement as your company grows. As hiring raises the bar, this might mean parting ways with employees who can’t maintain the new standard.
- Multiple offices: A growing company can, and often does, mean multiple offices. For example, a software company in the San Francisco Bay area may open up a sales/customer service location in New York (very imaginative, I know).
So business is booming, and this means that there are new faces being thrown into the mix. Further, a second office is being opened up in a city that’s halfway across the country. Your company’s cultural dynamic will inevitably change, so now it’s not a matter of “why” but rather “how” to adapt your company culture. Several issues may arise, from leadership to management, operations to communications and more. Even your current technologies might need a sudden upgrade.
Whatever changes your culture needs, one thing seems to remain constant across all growing companies: implementing organizational change starts and ends with your company’s leadership. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership concluded that the competencies necessary for the leadership of growing companies include leading people, strategic planning, inspiring commitment and managing change. Aside from making complete sense, focusing on growing with (or into) the right leadership as your company expands often results in maintaining, and in some cases improving, your culture. In other words, adapting your leadership first means sustainable growth.
You’ve got the right leaders in the right place. What next?
The next step depends on what your company’s culture was like before. Chances are, if your company is growing at a pace fast enough to where you are forced to adapt, your culture is a little different than that of a big, traditional corporation.
Is your culture one of appreciation, focused on customer service or focused on innovation? Whatever it is, you need to identify it in order to know your company’s strengths and weaknesses. By doing this, formulating a plan to adapt your company’s culture becomes not only easier, but possible.
Alas, here are a few things to focus on when adapting the culture of a growing company:
- Hire for culture: Make sure the people you hire fit into the new, growing dynamic of your company and its workplaces.
- Commit to out-of-office events: Whether it’s a company sports team or a Friday afternoon happy hour, holding out-of-office events allows for your employees (old and new) to get to know each other personally. This will help keep levels of engagement and satisfaction high.
- Update your tech: If, for you, a growing company means multiple office locations, then cloud-based collaboration platforms are the way to go. Platforms like Slack and Microsoft 365 help increase collaboration and innovation, while also assisting in keeping your workforce productive and happy.
- Think like a small business: It doesn’t matter how big your company is. If it’s growing, then adapting your culture is easiest when thinking like a small business, as this is when change is most difficult and dynamic. What does this mean? Communicate with your employees and managers. Know what they like and dislike, and as your company grows, keep the lines of communication open.
Change is tough; no one will dispute that, especially when your company and employees are reaping the benefits of a wonderful culture. With that wonderful culture comes success and growth, and if you want your culture to survive, you must to learn how to adapt.
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