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How to Adapt Your Culture as Your Company Grows

An exceptional company culture means success for your business, and success means growth. As your company grows, it becomes necessary to adapt your culture.

There’s really nothing like the feeling of walking into your office when business is good and the culture is prosperous. The times when energy is high and everyone is wearing a smile are truly great. However, times like these—when business is increasing and your company is growing—signify a forthcoming issue: How will you maintain this amazing culture as your company grows?

Truthfully, it pains me to call it an issue, because great culture means great success, and that success means growth. Maintaining the same cultural dynamic, though, can be difficult. If it helps at all, at least you’re not forced to adapt or change your culture because it’s failing, so at times, company culture is a bit of a matter of perspective. That said, let’s take a look at the contour of why you’ll need to adapt your culture as your company grows.

A growing company can mean several things. From the five stages of small business growth and beyond (large companies can and do grow, quite regularly), a number of changing factors present issues for your company culture. Here are a few of the more significant potential changes:

  • Larger workforce: As your company grows, there’s a very good chance that you’ll need to hire more employees. More employees means needing more managers. It can also mean better management, and that leads me to #2.
  • Better workforce: Let’s face it, some areas of your workforce may need improvement as your company grows. As hiring raises the bar, this might mean parting ways with employees who can’t maintain the new standard.
  • Multiple offices: A growing company can, and often does, mean multiple offices. For example, a software company in the San Francisco Bay area may open up a sales/customer service location in New York (very imaginative, I know).

So business is booming, and this means that there are new faces being thrown into the mix. Further, a second office is being opened up in a city that’s halfway across the country. Your company’s cultural dynamic will inevitably change, so now it’s not a matter of “why” but rather “how” to adapt your company culture. Several issues may arise, from leadership to management, operations to communications and more. Even your current technologies might need a sudden upgrade.

Whatever changes your culture needs, one thing seems to remain constant across all growing companies: implementing organizational change starts and ends with your company’s leadership. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership concluded that the competencies necessary for the leadership of growing companies include leading people, strategic planning, inspiring commitment and managing change. Aside from making complete sense, focusing on growing with (or into) the right leadership as your company expands often results in maintaining, and in some cases improving, your culture. In other words, adapting your leadership first means sustainable growth.

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Want Profits? Bottoms Up!

BURP: Don't knock it 'til you try it.

I'm not suggesting that you host an open bar at work. What I am suggesting is that you adopt the BURP strategy in your place of business. Okay, now I'm sure you think I just returned from a two martini lunch, but alas I'm quite serious (yes, sober too). The BURP strategy (Bottom's Up for Remarkable Profits) is based on a single premise: nobody knows how to make your business succeed like those that do the work.

In business, high-level managers are responsible for creating the vision and mission, setting the direction in which the business will go and the means by which it will go there. Mid-level managers are responsible for implementing the policies and plans created at the highest level. Front-line managers direct the activities of the non-managerial personnel. Each of these people are subordinate to someone. If you're the CEO, it's the Board; a VP, it's the CEO; and so on.

Every subordinate is the expert when it comes to the jobs they're entrusted to do. Success and profitability depend upon the performance of each and every subordinate. Imagine that staff at any level are not aware of the compelling vision and mission.

Imagine that the instruction given to them is not sufficient, clear and practical. Imagine there's no feedback loop, and all these things go unnoticed.

Who knows best when things are not what they should be? The answer is the subordinates -- every single one of them. Bottom's-Up matters because those who are performing a task know better than anyone (Yes, even better than the one who assigned the task) whether or not things are working well and how they can be improved. A more effective and efficient workplace is one that can and will achieve greater profitability.