Many successful businesses have gone through growing pains. Of course, you want to grow. However, if it happens too quickly, growth can actually be the cause of problems. One area where this can occur is with the corporate culture.
Just as with countries, corporations have their own cultures. It may not be expressly defined, but it comes across in the mission of the company and how people interact with one another, at all levels. As a company grows, new people have to be added to the ranks of employees. The more quickly the business grows, the staff has to be added more quickly.
While hiring new employees isn’t a bad thing, there has to be a way of communicating the company’s culture to them. When you only add one or two people, it can happen organically. If you add a lot at once, the ratio of new to old is greater, and there isn’t the time for an organic sharing of culture. In these cases, communication is key.
Communication is not only a way to share the culture with specific concepts such as mission statements, vision statements, and employee handbooks. The style of communication itself gives subtle clues about interaction within the company and provides a blueprint for people to follow. Each email and progress report then becomes a way of sharing and defining the corporate culture.
The ideal scenario is that you become aware of your particular company’s culture early on when it’s small. It can be seen in the way the owners and top-level management interact with each other and staff. If they favor a more laid back, informal communication style, this will take hold in other employees who look to their senior managers to guide them in what is appropriate.
It’s important that the leaders of the company define the culture they want at the beginning, if possible. They need to take a look at the style that is natural to them when communicating with one another and identify what works and what doesn’t. For example, if leaders speak their minds to one another, but don’t really want staff to do so, their communication needs to take this into account.
Once it’s properly identified, then the mission and vision, and all company materials can be written in this same vein. Employees will follow the example of the leaders, so their actions need to be in line with what they say. Once that happens, holding onto the corporate culture, even during rapid growth, will be much easier.