Blogs

Derek Bishop

Director

Growing fast? Don’t leave your culture behind

Date added: 22nd Sep 2016
Category: SMEs / Entrepreneurs

When you’re growing fast your culture is your biggest ally

Can a business grow too fast? Perhaps unsurprisingly the answer is both yes and no with the determining factor, the difference between success and failure, being down to control.

We are not talking here about rigid control, the over-firm hand which insists on having every decision and every action passed across a single desk; that way leads to a stagnated bottleneck in which individuals are afraid to act and nothing is done to time.   Instead what we are looking at is the guiding hand, the voice which keeps the aims and objectives in mind, helping the business to steer a firm course towards success.

And the best form of control doesn’t sit with a single individual, but rather with the culture of the organisation. Your culture is your DNA, it’s the way in which things are done, it’s the attitude and the ethos and the outlook. Your culture translates into your reputation, your customer service, the way employees interact and the way the business interacts with the outside world. Quite simply, with your culture on your side, the business will continue to grow in the right direction.

But culture too needs a helping hand and when a business is growing fast that helping hand is sometimes otherwise engaged. You need someone in accounts and IT and sales; no you actually need several someones in each of those departments and because all those people are coming on board you also need training and HR and what about someone to help out with the social media and so on and so on.

The trouble is that because you are so bound up in getting new orders and fulfilling contracts and growing the business it can be all too easy to simply grab the first candidate you see in order to fill the next seat in the expanding workforce. And when you do that, you run the risk of throwing the culture away.

There is a lot written about hiring for cultural fit nowadays and there is also a lot of misunderstanding about what cultural fit actually means. When we hire for cultural fit, we are not hiring clones but we are bringing on board individuals who are in tune with the aims and values and culture of the business and who can bring something extra to help to further those aims. And even with the right candidate we have to spend some time in them to understand the culture of the organisation and their part within it.

However long it takes, choosing the right candidate and helping them to buy into the existing culture is time well spent. When you’re growing fast your culture is your biggest ally. When that culture is being lived every day by every member of the team then it doesn’t matter how fast you grow; you know you will stay on the right track. Ignore your culture, leave it behind and your business may still go up like a rocket but it will very soon crash into oblivion.

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