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How to scale up without losing your company culture

Scaling up without losing a healthy company culture can be challenging for every business, large or small. Challenging, but not impossible.

In fact, as a business leader, your company’s culture is one of the first things you need to consider if you’re looking to achieve rapid and consistent growth. Are you attracting the kind of talent that will boost your business growth? Are you retaining the people that will make your company thrive?

Dominic Monkhouse

A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that 85% of business executives believe that culture widely influences decisions and actions within a company, and that unhealthy culture leads to unethical behaviour. The same survey showed that 9 out of 10 CFOs think that by improving their company culture they will also increase their company’s value and performance.  However, culture change is still a pending subject for many leaders today. In a recent Achievers survey, 45% of employees admitted that their leaders are very little, or not committed at all to culture-building and that they don’t feel heard or valued. That’s why focusing on building an open and honest culture is paramount to the success of business scale-ups.

Scaling up a business is all about People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. If you get the right people (A-Players) on the right seats, they will take care of the execution, and cash will be guaranteed. Your company’s culture should be in service of your strategy. To build a great culture every single member of your team has to be aligned with your company’s purpose, your strategy, your core values, and your goals. That also means getting rid of the people that are holding you back (Toxic A’s) and bring in new people who share your beliefs.

How can you change your company culture?

To transform your company culture and scale up your business, you need to get to grips with the existing culture. Are you promoting an environment of praise and recognition? Have you built a workplace culture in which everyone feels safe to speak their mind and say what they think? In 2018, LinkedIn conducted a survey in which 65% of people admitted they would rather getting lower wages than dealing with a bad work environment. By choosing to ignore the importance of a positive culture, you could be losing the best talent, or favouring the toxic one. Hence you will fail in your race towards growth. Let’s face it, building a company culture can be a hard challenge to overcome, especially when there are so many behaviours and patterns ingrained within the team. It takes focus and practice, but it will reward you with an increase in productivity and growth.

One of the best tools that we use with our clients at Monkhouse & Company is Gustavo Razzetti’s, Culture Design Canvas. With a simple design, this framework is fundamental if you want to implement a systematic approach to creating a positive workplace environment by mapping out, assessing, and evolving the workplace culture. One of the first and important tasks when shaping your company culture is to re-visit foundational elements like your purpose, your core values, and your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). What are the top three priorities for your company? What behaviours do you reward and which ones do you punish as a company? The Culture Canvas will help you set expectations of what the standard practices are in your company at an organisational level. That needs to be clear and consistent at every level of the organisation, from the leadership team to every other member of the staff. Having a way to measure culture fit is highly valuable, as this will be a guarantee that you are hiring and retaining the right people.

Dominic Monkhouse Workshop

How do you keep a company culture alive?

When companies start to scale up, so does their need to grow their team. Many CEOs find maintaining culture whilst scaling up quite challenging. That is why having a process in place is so important. If you have clarity on your business strategy, your core values, and your purpose, you will know what kind of people will be a good fit for your team. You need a high percentage of A-Players in your business to keep the momentum going. Hiring for cultural fit will have a massive impact on how fast and sustainable your growth will be.

Another vital element when scaling up your team is looking for “learners”, those that are constantly looking for new ways to improve their performance and boost their knowledge. A strong culture is sustained by a focus on corporate learning. Make sure you provide the resources for your team to continue learning and create a workplace environment in which there is room for questioning your existing processes and techniques.

Allow an environment of psychological safety in which every member of your team feels free to talk without fearing being judged, or ridiculed. Transparency essential if you want to maintain a healthy culture within your company. That goes from avoiding secrecy across the company, to encourage honest feedback between team members. Encouraging what Kim Scott coined as Radical Candour within your business is crucial for a strong culture. That candid feedback should always come from a place of wanting other people to be the best versions of themselves. Build a culture where you value people’s opinions and act on their concerns. Whilst creating a space of psychological safety takes effort and dedication, it will encourage your team to take more risks, to think more creatively, and to work more productively.

Now, once you have a strong and healthy company culture, you need to make sure to keep a regular rhythm. One thing that we strongly advise clients to do is having daily huddles. You might think that you are too busy for these, but having daily, weekly and monthly meetings with your team is what reinforces your culture and ties in with purpose, responsibility, and character.

Here’s the thing – culture change is hard work. There is no doubt about that. Humans are creatures of habit and we prefer to stick with what we know. But my challenge to you is to seize the opportunities for cultural change that are emerging, especially now. I read something some time ago that really resonated – if you have two courses of action, always choose the one that’s most disruptive. This is how you’ll achieve rapid growth in your business.

Are you ready to work together with Dominic to deliver at an individual, team and organisational level to help you scale up with a world-class Scaling Up Executive coach? For all enquiries, please call Dominic on 01725 605900 or email here.

Dominic works with clients in LondonWiltshireHampshireSurrey and Berkshire.

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