Maintain culture as your business grows

This is a challenge that all growing businesses face. As we scale and evolve, how can we stay true to our culture and what makes us who we are?

This question is particularly relevant to tech start-ups and scaling companies. Because these organizations are by their nature going to have the most dramatic growth. For a more mature organization, it doesn’t make much of a difference if the workforce increases from 5,000 he to 6,000 he. However, moving from 50 to 500 is a small numerical increase, but it actually represents a significant increase in business scale.

This is my first-hand experience at Nash Squared, but in the context of an established business rather than a start-up. Across the group he had 2,500 staff when I joined this business three years before him. Now that number he exceeds 3,300. The company grew through organic growth and acquisitions, and also launched and executed a major rebrand of the group, evolving from Harvey Nash Group to Nash Squared. All of this combined represents the largest investment in people and technology in the company’s history.

The scale of change will vary depending on where you are on the growth curve, but the underlying principles and best practices are the same.

act on your purpose

The first point is that you must stay true to your core purpose. You can’t scale and grow well unless you do. It is to establish a “Polar Star” to guide your journey. Why are you in business, what is your underlying purpose? Why would people want to work for you? Why would a client or customer want to buy from you?

This purpose remains the same. If you lose sight of it as you grow, you’ll create a discontinuity that will sooner or later ruin your fortunes as a business.

Culture and values ​​can evolve

Business purpose and vision play an essential role in shaping organizational culture. However, as your business grows, your culture can evolve and change subtly. There may be a culture of innovation and risk-taking in the early days, but as the proposition matures, the responsibility (to staff, customers, suppliers) increases, and the business becomes more established, the risk-taking element becomes almost non-existent. Certainly mitigated to some extent. at the market. It doesn’t betray your culture. Rather, you are evolving it to reflect the stage you have reached.

Values ​​are very important. A successful business stays true to its values. However, like all cultures, these are not static and may need to be reviewed over time. For example, at Nash Squared, we realized it was time to sharpen our values ​​and make sure they were still really relevant for our evolving organization. So we took extensive input from our staff and implemented an intensive collaboration that listened seriously to their input. We updated our values ​​accordingly, making sure that the leaders of each business were actually responsible for embedding them into how we work and operate. The new values ​​were not fundamentally different from the old values. The essence is to respect each other, listen, collaborate and be guided by the needs of our customers. But they were refreshed and more relevant to our current situation. Consulting has created a deep relationship with our employees, and they have developed a new interest in how we work.

Embrace change as part of your growth, including your employees

Perhaps a theme already emerging here is that maintaining a thriving culture at scale does not mean stubbornly clinging to everything that marked the first day of doing business. Rather, it is important to keep believing in your core qualities while adapting to the changes that occur as you grow and become more complex. In some ways, they resemble humans. You will always be you – but as an adult you are different than when you were a child.

With this comes another important realization for startups: people are leaving. You can’t hang on to everyone forever, and in fact you probably don’t want to. You have to get used to it.

Some love the excitement and firefighting of a new startup, improvising to find their way, problem-solving, and the freedom to make decisions in the moment, but as a business grows and more processes and processes inevitably require governance. Once introduced, it becomes a less attractive environment for them. Others prefer to work in a small organization where they know all the other staff and can metaphorically “touch every wall” of the business. They feel uncomfortable as the scale increases.

The key is to be open, honest and transparent with people about where your business is and where it’s going. It’s perfectly normal and okay for some people to feel that their time is up. They would have played an invaluable role in the development of the business. Thank them and say goodbye. Others will try to bring in new skills and talents.

keep a cultural perspective on everything

Company culture should be a key perspective for all aspects of your business. For example, recruitment is an important area. To help new hires fit in better, make sure your leaders, managers, and HR team have a clear framework of what hard and soft skills they’re looking for (and why). We also need to support culture and values ​​through learning and development resources that are accessible to all. At Nash Squared, we created a learning portal and a happiness portal. They play a big part in keeping us all connected and part of one team.

When it comes to inorganic growth, corporate culture should also be a major factor in acquisition decisions. Does the target business fit in well with your culture and vision? If out of tune, this deal can actually destroy far more value than it creates. The history of business is filled with deals closed because of cultural disagreements.

Another part of the expansion process is investor support and listing. If it attracts investment, such as from a private equity house, or if one PE backer sells its shares to another PE backer, this can create new opportunities, such as a focus on profitability over sales. dynamics can occur. Becoming a public company can have a similar impact. All of this can have ramifications within your business and once again means that honest communication with your staff is key.

Three basic principles

Maintaining a strong culture as it grows is a complex area. Because you will likely decide that you need to keep some aspects unchanged and evolve others. Her three key pieces of advice from me are:

• Stay focused on the North Star – Never lose sight of the vision that got you started in the first place.

• Be Honest and Transparent – You need to take people with you on your journey. Communicate and engage. If something needs to change, be up front and explain why.

• Ensure people, processes and governance are fit for purpose. These will change as your business grows. Technologies, systems and processes must:

https://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/Keeping-your-culture-as-the-business-scales Maintain culture as your business grows

Show More
Back to top button