I have worked with many leaders as their companies grow. It’s exciting to see a company hitting its goals, having a strong fit in the market and teams scaling to support the business. But it can also be tough to keep the culture strong during high growth.
Below are three areas I have seen many companies struggle with the most as they scale. If you can partner with a strong Culture Partner (HR, People Ops… it’s not about what you call us….just that you call us!) you can create a great employee experience and keep your team motivated and engaged as you go through your exciting growth!
1) Communication – Leaders struggle both with how often and the right channel to do it in a way that is meaningful for the team, specifically: What should be delivered in person? What can be in a slack/email? What should come directly from leadership? What should be done as a company or in smaller groups? When thinking about the best way to communicate something think about what the impact will be to the team, the level of “controversy” (amount of push back you could get), if it is informational or do you need to create buy-in and enthusiasm, or will different teams have different questions. This may help you think about the best way to communicate your news.
2) Timing of Hiring – We have all heard the stories of the rocket-ship growth, which is exciting and gets you a lot of press. But we also see those companies crash and burn because they grew too fast. It’s tough to find the balance of being lean and smart while not overburdening your teams. To know when to bring on additional managers and experts/specialists versus relying on everyone to do a little of everything. For example, a leader that has too many direct reports is not going to be the best strategic thinker because they just don’t have the time. Or if your business is growing, it might make sense to create “pods” of specialties within CS (onboarding, account management, retention). The key thing to consider when looking at your org structure as you grow is can some of those new roles allow other people to be more impactful or efficient in their roles, which is a better use of your headcount costs, even if you are adding to the budget!
3) Right people. right time – Now let’s chat about your current team members. Some of the most impactful work I have done is talking to leaders about helping a long-tenured employee move on from the organization if they aren’t happy (or can’t adapt) to the new stages of company maturity. The rockstar you hired when you were 25 people may not be the rockstar you need at 100 people. They may not want to be at a company that size either (some people really enjoy that early early stage of a company). And that’s a really hard conversation on both sides. Hopefully, you have created a culture that is open and trusting. Where people feel comfortable being honest about their goals and motivators. The worse thing you can do is let an employee struggle and it turns into a performance conversation. In a 1:1, just be honest with what you are seeing, ask them if they are still enjoying the work they do or the direction the company is heading. And give them permission to make a change on their own to find something that better aligns with their passions.
I have shared some of my biggest learnings on helping scale a company culture on the Scaling.NYC podcast and a webinar with 15Five & Think Human. How have you found ways to evolve your culture as you grow your business? Are you struggling with any of the areas above (or something else)? Let’s connect and see how I can help!