Many times growth can be thrilling. Getting new large-scale projects, expanding your office premises, hiring more talent. It’s an exciting time at any company- and a huge accomplishment.
Yet, the growing pains of a company in this situation can be challenging. In the nimble early days, the initial partners and teams are aligned. However, as the company expands, it’s normal to experience culture clash, confusion over new hierarchies and teams that don’t communicate well. This can quickly lead to disaster, as expectations and workflows aren’t clearly defined.
If your company is dealing with the good, the bad and the ugly of rapid growth, we’ve got some key tips to help you through it.
Keeping everybody on the same page
It’s absolutely essential that everybody – your employees, partners and stakeholders – are on the same page. Good communication can often seem like a lofty goal, but basically you want to make sure that employees:
- Hear first hand about big decisions
- Have resources about who to contact to flag delays, issues, conflicts, etc.
- Use streamlined (not diluted) channels for communication
- Apply consistent communication leadership across all projects
- Connect across teams in both professional and social ways
These actions seem simple, but can easily tangle up teams when things go wrong. More than anything, communication is one of your most powerful tools to build company values. It’s how you’ll create trust with your teammates, show appreciation for their hard work, allow for professional growth within teams and work through the rough spots together in a project.
Of course, this focus on communication doesn’t just apply to your employees. Your stakeholders should also feel looped in. You should likewise employ regular communication strategies with them in order to keep everybody on the same page. Your company strategy document should be the focus of all these communications, so that at every turn you’re reiterating stated goals and revising them as needed.
Navigating culture shifts
Leading an ever-growing team can be a big deal. With this change, you’ll encounter new hires with different approaches and visions. In fact, it’s common for employees to group themselves into pockets, causing cultural shifts across the company that can be difficult to integrate.
Diversity’s great, but differing opinions on the company’s culture can cause conflict. Sometimes a cultural shift is a natural part of company growth. However, you should be on the lookout for how your company culture is changing. Ideally, you would try to focus on aligning the values you feel are essential to your company.
Easier said than done. Here are a few considerations to manage culture shifts:
- Lead by example. If you want to create a workplace dynamic where employees feel comfortable taking lunch breaks and can create flexible schedules, you and your management team should demonstrate and encourage this.
- Structure influences culture. The structure of your teams impacts how employees work together. Reporting relationships, hiring practices, performance reviews, job descriptions and professional development are all part of structure. If you’re looking for employees to feel supported by their leader, you should take a closer look at the team structure, outcome-based rewards and encouragement of professional development. Overall, you can use structure to redirect culture.
- Reward and recognize values. Whenever you see a team member exemplifying a company value, reward them. A few examples of this in practice include: encouraging an employee to give a tech talk, creating a buddy program for team members to teach each other programming languages they don’t know, and seriously considering proposals for improvement from employees.
- Manage red flags with over-communication. You’ll know when something’s wrong with your company culture. But you might not know why. Whenever you see high turnover or toxic competition, go to the heart of the matter. Communicate with your teammates and find out what’s going on.
- Be consistent in managing emotional responses. Emotional intelligence is essential when leading a company. You should be strategic about how you respond to crises and issues that come up. More than anything, be consistent in how you treat teams and try to understand their point-of-views. They’ll notice when you’re being fair (or not).
Despite the challenges arising from growing, it’s a great thing for any company. Building a solid company culture can be tricky, but the benefits you can take from them are uncountable. We hope these tips will help you with your organization’s development.