Your culture may be the vibe in the office, the attitude of employees or just the ‘way things are done around here’ which is the difference between good and great performance.
Here at Transcend, we are a passionate bunch – mostly about culture and performance of teams and individuals.
We have previously discussed the benefits of a positive culture and why this is great for your organisation, the employees that you work with and the growth you are looking to achieve.
There is always a need for Clarity, Communication and Consistency from Day 1 if you wish to create an effective and engaging culture. You should motivate teams by setting expectations, empowering them and encouraging innovation in all aspects of their work – remind them that they should not be fearful of being different!
For more information on how culture change can improve overall performance read our Quadrangle Case Study on how culture and performance management can influence effective growth
But how do you manage culture in a growing organisation as you get busier and your time is becoming increasingly diluted?
Preserving your culture as you grow, or undergo significant organisational change, is a big challenge. You will no doubt be developing business processes and systems to help you effectively grow the organisation. Usually, these tend to be focused on product or services, customer relationships, information technology or document workflow.
Culture (and, in the same breath, performance) is a little harder to manage – it may be the vibe in the office, the attitude of employees or just the ‘way things are done around here’ which is the difference between good and great performance. Often it comes from the top and as organisations grow, the top becomes “farther away”, even in relatively flat structures!
If you lead by example, you must stay accessible to staff even as you grow. This means making the effort to be visible in the office, getting to know new employees and really engaging with them.
If you really don’t have time to get to know everyone, make sure that it is within your fellow leaders’ job remit to engage with people informally and stay in touch with what is happening at all levels. Clearly, that should be a part of a line manager’s role, but where Senior Leaders are involved in this kind of communication, it sends a strong message about how highly people are valued in the organisation.
If you have employees with negative feedback, it helps to address the problems rather than just let people dwell on things.Doing this early enough can prevent the problems from spreading and stop them being whispered about behind closed doors. A discussion taking place in an open forum is generally far more constructive than hearsay or assumptions made in private!
Communication remains key – collaboration is even better!
Make sure your core culture is communicated at every stage of the employee relationship. As you grow, you may need a more formal process to ensure everyone is aware of what is expected.
In a small business, we tend to know more about what everyone else does at work but as we grow, roles become more specific and different departments can seem more distant. A formal onboarding process is useful to help new employees get a helicopter view of the business and understand how their role fits into the overall purpose.
Regular information-sharing by departments will also help to maintain mutual understanding and foster new collaborations. Team Healthchecks are effective at achieving this kind of collaboration in a constructive way.
BAM Communications assigns everyone 2 ‘dates’ a month. They see it as a form of cross-pollinating that helps abate cliques, creates personal bonds, and lets team members know one another beyond the day-to-day business setting. “People who love the people they work with want to stay with those people, and a collective of people who trust and enjoy one another is the backbone of culture.” Says Beck Bamberger.
Retain the fun factor!
We have already discussed how happy employees are more motivated, so tend to work harder and collaborate more.
Often when companies start, people get to know each other very well and socialise together. As you grow, individuals become busier, distracted and more focused on their role. You need to make the effort to retain that fun factor (if that’s what you want) or certainly to make sure employees continue to communicate and exchange ideas.
It doesn’t have to be outside of working hours a weekly or monthly lunch is good, a shared meeting or chill out space for informal meetings. Some people still value the popular ‘Drinks Friday’ where people get an hour to socialise at the end of the week.
Reward and recognise
People want to feel valued and this is more than just what goes into their bank account each month. How people want to be recognised will depend on your business and the kind of people you employ but find out. Make sure you reward for jobs well done either on a small or grand scale and be consistent.
Hire the right people
This starts with your managers and leaders. These are the people at the heart of your business – your core team that can shape the culture for everyone else. It is essential that they believe wholeheartedly in your culture and what you want to achieve. They also need to be comfortable in demonstrating this (actions speak louder than words) – they truly need to lead by example here!
Leadership offsite sessions underpinned by the definition of culture (and whether the team leads by example) are often a very good place to start – it usually unlocks important discussions that cannot happen at other times.
Leaders communicate with their actions, their words and the people they recruit themselves – all of this will then filter throughout the organisation itself. Getting the recruitment, interview and induction processes anchored to culture and capability is critical to achieving this positive message.
Shaping a good culture is manageable in a growing company but relationships are at the heart of this and they can take a lot of hard work. Many companies have retained a great culture with thousands of employees, so it is absolutely possible, but it needs to be seen as important for all leaders, not just HR!
Find out more in the case study, culture change and effective transformation with multiple team consolidation at Sheffield County Council
Define and document your culture, communicate it to all stakeholders, measure how you are doing and listen to your team ! You may have to modify a little in places, but you can absolutely do it.