Culture themes

Managing culture during rapid growth


The challenge

It’s the cloud to the silver lining of every organisation that goes through rapid growth: How do you identify and preserve the aspects of your culture that forged its success at the same time as a wave of new recruits threatens to dilute its cohesiveness?

It’s not just numbers coming into the business. As organisations grow, they have to hire new people with specific skill sets, and cultural fit can easily become secondary to an urgent need for the business to acquire such skills.

Growth may also mean geographic expansion, or multiple sites, which can lead to an additional breakdown of cultural cohesion. So, how do you manage culture during rapid growth?

Rapid growth | Corporate Culture

Recognise the risks

  • Too often we hear clients remark that their organisation is a great place to work, without being able to say exactly what makes it great. Are you conscious of your cultural assets and the values and beliefs that drive your organisation?
  • Importantly, do you know which cultural assets you need to ensure you keep to meet your business imperatives? Your culture has delivered to date, but will it do so as you grow?
  • Embrace evolution. Your business is going to change, and this period is going to be about managing that change effectively. You cannot, nor should you want to, be in cultural stasis.
  • You are recruiting new skills. Do you have the right balance between skills and ensuring cultural fit? How are you defining the culture within which they should fit?

Action checklist

  • Know your culture. Make conscious what may have previously been instinctive and unconscious. Name, define and communicate your culture and what makes it that way.
  • Be clear about what is precious to the culture of the organisation and encourage freedom to explore and develop in non-critical areas. If you are bringing in new people, you want to be able to benefit from any contribution they’ll make to the culture, rather than rigidly indoctrinate them.
  • Be realistic. An influx of new people is highly likely to change culture. It's how you manage the cultural transition that's key.
  • Renovate your recruitment process to build in behaviour and culture from the start.
  • Consider running regular culture assessments. These can be a useful tool to check direction and development over time.

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