Maintaining Culture Through Rapid Growth


Business leaders long for growth and welcome any opportunity to see their company expand its product offerings, client list, market share, or service area. But while seasons of rapid growth can bring much gain, there is also a risk of considerable loss. Specifically, company culture can sometimes get lost in the shuffle, damaged, or discarded through seasons of intense transition.

HR can play an important role here, partnering with leaders and managers to make cultural preservation a top priority. Consider a few specific strategies for maintaining a healthy, distinctive culture as the company experiences sudden growth.

Have a Clear Sense of Core Values

First and foremost, it’s important to have a clear sense of the values that have made the culture so distinct in the first place.

With all that has changed since the pandemic, consider revisiting your company’s mission, vision, and values to ensure you are fully committed to them. Take the time to assemble a working document where you list core values and define your mission statement. Bring that document with you into every meeting where major decisions are made, simply to provide parameters and direction. Before any big change or expansion, simply ask: How will this serve the mission? How will it live up to our stated values?

Reinforce Culture Through All Your Processes

HR can find ample opportunity to reinforce cultural values, and to remind employees of the company’s mission.

For example, culture should be a hallmark of the recruitment and onboarding processes. Make it clear to new hires what kind of cultural environment they’re entering, and why that culture is worth celebrating. Also bring up cultural values at annual reviews, reminding employees of how their role at the company figures into the bigger picture.

Make Culture a Two-Way Street

While HR can play a significant role in preserving culture, that doesn’t always mean dictating culture from on high.

The CEO sets the company culture; however, gaining employee buy-in is also important. Surveys, focus groups, and email polls can all be used to assess what employees think about the company culture, what they would change about it, and what they think is worth holding onto. Seeking feedback is one of the best ways leaders can help employees feel a sense of ownership in the company culture, which in turn helps you keep that culture strong through periods of transition.

Lead By Example

Even when companies are going through significant growth, leaders, managers, and HR decision-makers can all set the tone through their own everyday example.

Want a culture of compassion? Make sure your own leadership style is warm and empathetic, never vengeful or vindictive. Want a culture that emphasizes work-life balance? Make sure you take the occasional mental health day yourself, leave the office at a reasonable time each day, and shy away from sending after-hours emails.

Make Culture a Priority

Culture can provide a clear sense of corporate identity, even as your business grows and changes. Most companies have a strategic plan for sales, marketing, and finance but very few have a plan for how they are going to drive their company culture in the year ahead. Your company’s culture is too important to your success to wing it. To find out more about creating your strategic plan and the role HR can play in preserving culture, reach out to our team. Schedule a chat with WhiteWater Consulting at your next convenience.

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Chuck Cooper — Whitewater Consulting

HR Consultant that helps businesses become better. Better employers. Better HR. Better company culture. Better financial results