Get your company culture on the right track before its too hard to pivot.
Building the right culture is of paramount importance if you are looking to grow a sustainable business. Like most things in business, achieving a specific cultural result requires a consistent and rigorous approach. Culture cannot be forced; it must be guided and shaped. The following measures when applied over time can help you achieve your cultural goals while your business is growing.
Stay connected with all company employees
Senior leadership and especially founders/CEOs need to be in constant “connection” with all their employees, long after the business has grown past 100 employees. Sometimes, when you are in a CEO role it can be difficult after the company achieves “growth equity” status to find the time to spend inside the organization. So many outside forces, like investors, partnerships, business development, and PR are constantly monopolizing CEO time. However, nothing is more powerful to your employee base than hearing directly from the leaders that are shaping the company vision.
One important way to achieve a great connection with your employee base is by hosting a mandatory “weekly standup” at your office HQ, and ensure every remote or offsite employee stop what they are doing and videoconference into the weekly meeting. The CEO and other senior leaders should take turns running this meeting, alternating week over week.
Equally important is the agenda and content of this meeting. A weekly “dashboard” can be created that uses a consistent format and provides contextual updates on progress towards company goals and achievements. In addition–one or two employees should be asked each week to share an update from the recent project(s) they have been working on, and present a case to their peers, in front of company leadership. This rigorous approach produces an environment where honesty and transparency and recognition of hard work become demonstrated company values.
Socialization and the “feedback loop”
Company events both in and out of the office are a great way to develop relationships across the business and give people a chance to speak their minds more freely. At our company, we tie the weekly update to a catered lunch–so everyone can spend time and choose to discuss how the company is doing, what’s working and what’s not. This creates a very important feedback loop between employees and management–resulting in your ability to make changes to policies and procedures that keep things running smoothly for everyone. Lastly, a company “intranet” that is regularly updated and intended for employees eyes only is another great way to allow constant communication on all topics, including achievement of goals, and even company enterprise value of your employee base are all shareholders.
Great HR leadership
For our company, the first time we employed great HR leadership was a major turning point in our company culture taking the shape we intended. Dedicated and talented HR can be expensive, and often be perceived as a cost center, but in truth it’s the best investment a growing company can make and will pay dividends when the right people are chosen for the role. Once you have HR leadership, make sure to carve out weekly meetings to stay on top of all issues including future hiring strategies.
Making an investment in the above areas will produce results, and in a relatively short period of time. Remember, the consistency is key—but make the investment now and it will pay you and your company back many times over.