Building a Scalable Company Culture
The word “culture” has numerous definitions ranging from the biological, as in cultivating living material, to the social, as in customs, values, and taste. When considering my company’s culture, both senses of the meaning resonated with me.
Much like a living being, a company must be innately fit for growth. Nurturing that growth requires steady, purposeful engagement.
While I had a crystal-clear vision about the business I wanted to create, I knew that a vision alone could not prepare my team for the growing pains we would inevitably face throughout our development.
Preparation was key - and several initiatives helped me build the scalable culture we needed:
Establishing core values
One of the first things I did in the early days of my business was to identify core values. Those values helped me pin down what sort of culture I hoped to instill and what sort of people would thrive in that environment.
“Clear, respectful, and honest communication”, “Exceeding expectations of customers and colleagues”, “No one is above any job” - all of these examples speak to qualities I seek when building my team.
Established values ensure a team is aligned on approach, which is not only evident in internal processes but also external interactions. Client relationships and industry partnerships depend on consistency, from day one ad infinitum and from one representative to the next.
Creating communication channels
It turns out, nothing goes without saying. Communication is essential in all relationships and at all stages of growth. It is important for everyone to hear and be heard.
As a leader, I wanted my team to be able to openly speak their minds and to be able to sustain that individualism as we grew. With this aim, my company has relied on a platform that allows each team member to voice issues or concerns to the departmental head. If the head of the department is unable to resolve the request, it is escalated up to the leadership team. Once a solution is found, it is cascaded back down. This structure means each and every team member can be heard, however large the company grows.
That said, informal, unstructured communication channels add a great deal to company culture as well, allowing for spontaneity, humor, and at our company, lots of GIFs. We share ideas, updates, industry news, music, and even vacation photos over numerous channels in Slack, which brings a quick pace and levity to our daily interaction.
Promoting personal advancement
No one aspires to toil away at a job for years, only to eventually be outmoded by new resources. Even the most loyal, productive team members might feel unease as additional team members and tools are introduced.
Effective leaders invest in team members who have invested in them. This can take many forms - from providing dedicated training to advocate advancement opportunities, to simply creating the time and tolerance for experimentation.
When I walk in the office in the morning and see the faces and hear the chatter, I understand we are all rowing in the same direction. As the company grows, I am determined that we advance together, and truly look forward to witnessing what we will achieve as individuals and as a team.
George Baker is Founder and CEO of Parkhub. He can be reached at email@example.com