Scaling Culture As You Scale Your Company
How do we maintain, grow, and improve our company’s culture as our company continues to grow? It’s a common question, and a very real concern for scaling companies. CultureIQ culture strategist Rea Abrahams dove into the topic during a recent fireside chat with a panel of trusted culture experts. Check out our recap of the conversation below.
But First, Some Context
We held this fireside chat in a recent webinar, where our panel answered the culture questions our attendees had submitted — we had over 150 to sift through! You can watch the hour-long webinar here. We also discussed how to manage organizational change, how to motivate leaders to embody culture, and 2018 culture trends we’re looking out for. Our panel of culture experts included:
Managing Director at Root, Inc, a creative consultancy helping organizations face strategic change, onboarding, and culture transformation.
A speaker, writer, executive coach, and professor focused on eliminating workplace dysfunction. Brandon writes about culture and workplace health on this blog, The Workplace Therapist.
A partner at LifeLabs, which specializes in trainings for companies going through rapid growth. Tania is also the author of ‘Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable & Engineer the Unexpected.’
A consultant, event organizer, and cafe owner working with individuals and organizations to maximize their potential. Robin is also the author of ‘Responsive: What it Takes to Create a Thriving Organization.’
How to Scale Culture Effectively
In addition to answering questions from attendees, our panel provided some helpful resources to help others navigate a scaling culture:
- Our past webinar, Managing Culture Through Organizational Change, shared tips and tricks from CultureIQ and LifeLabs.
- The Two Sides of Growth walks through the tactical and emotional sides of organizational change.
- The Slack app Donut randomly pairs team members up for coffees, to improve work relationships and culture
Question: Our company is growing, so now we have more offices. How do we ensure each office feels just as ‘cool’ and included in everyday happenings?
Robin: The type of company distribution determines the type of culture you’re trying to scale. Does your company want to be entirely remote? Or is your company opening a second, third, fourth outpost? Once you’ve determined that, identify what you want you culture to be: Do you want your culture to be the same? Or are you ok with different sub-cultures, as long as they continue to foster closeness and communication? Brandon:In my experience, organizational leaders have told me that you can either be fully remote or fully fixed within offices. But mixing can be difficult because of the variances in culture, working structure, and office norms. Geography affects culture. Each office will have a vibe. It’s ok to have each office be part of the same family, but with different sub-cultures. Here are two tips to help you achieve effective sub-cultures:
- Formally recognize your differences. Document your company culture.
- Rotate leadership across offices. You’ll avoid the perception of one central, prioritized headquarter. And you’ll make leadership a living, organic entity that is connected to all aspects of your company culture.
Question: During company growth and the resulting cultural change, how can we best manage the employees less willing to evolve?
Brandon: Remember: just because you have a strong culture, doesn’t mean you have the right one. These employees may say ‘we’ve always done it this way.’ But that doesn’t mean it’s the right way. So, task leadership with driving clarity on a well-honed culture. Doing so will show tenured employees what they can expect from change. And, if needed, it will lose the people who aren’t a fit for that culture. And that’s ok too. Robin:Yes, exactly. Figure out what resistance even looks like. These tenured employees might fear the unknown, not the changes themselves. Tanya: It’s important to understand where these employees’ resistance is coming from. Sometimes people resist because they feel like they’re losing their hard-earned voice or their importance. Create opportunities for these employees to be advocates. Get them on your side. Chris:Everyone processes change differently. Change is emotional — it’s science. Our orbitofrontal cortex is a frontal lobe in our brains that processes decision making and our emotional responses. So find out the emotional state of your employees before implementing the change. Ready to watch the webinar? Check it out here.