17 May 2016

How growth impacts your company’s culture

As organisations grow there are various ‘tipping points’ where size starts to impact how people work together.

You’ll know when it’s time to act by some of the signs, which may include:

  • silos forming in the business and teams not working together as effectively
  • employees may feel some disconnection from the company’s values and plans
  • employees become dissatisfied with the level of information being cascaded to them
  • an increase in absenteeism and employee turnover

If you start to observe some of these indicators, it’s absolutely critical to take notice and act. Better still, be on the forefront and develop a strategic cultural plan that proactively supports a growing business, rather than inhibits it.

As the saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast. So you can have the best growth strategy in the world, but without consciously planning to develop, maintain and evolve a high performing and highly engaged team, your strategy will not succeed.

As organisations grow, it’s important to plan and strategise how your culture can drive performance and increase employee engagement in the future.

In doing so, you should be prepared to acknowledge that the future culture may need to look different to that of today., and while it may be desirable to keep as much of the existing culture and personal touches intact, it can be a balancing act.

When planning your culture strategy for a growing business, it’s important to understand and recognise:

  • Leadership – how will it play a role in driving your business growth? What do you need to see from your leaders for the business to be successful?
  • Behaviours and mindsets of all employees – how do you need people to think and interact with each other and customers to achieve your planned growth?
  • Systems and process that support the culture and behaviour you want/need – how do your people systems such as Performance Management tools support where you are headed? Is the process scaleable and sustainable? Do they align to your core values?
  • Symbols that reinforce the desired culture (e.g. reward and recognition, working environments etc.)

At Brennan IT, our culture is ultimately driven by the tone set by our leadership team and the company values that we have in place.

Without doubt Brennan IT is about its people.

We recruit, retain and develop skilled professionals who are also really great people to be around. We put people first, we listen, we have multiple avenues for people to share what they are thinking and feeling, and we respond.

All employees have monthly one-on-ones with their leader to discuss company alignment, goal clarity, values alignment, how they are tracking, to give and receive feedback, have career and development discussions, and just ‘shoot the breeze’.

Our people are social, and this is supported with an active social club in each of our locations.  We reward and recognise success and great behaviour. In short, we care.

Maintaining this isn’t easy. We now have over 340 people across Australia and Mumbai and have grown over the years both organically and through acquisitions. The latter can be particularly challenging from a cultural perspective.

When entertaining the concept of acquisitions for growth, it’s important to look for constructive leadership in potential acquisitions that builds a high performing and satisfied employee base. It’s also important to do a detailed review of the culture and people metrics as part of the consideration. Ideally the people would live similar values and have similar expectations around behaviour and performance. This may not be the case however, so consider how will you support an integration if you choose to proceed. When done well, it can strengthen the culture for high performance and build a stronger higher performing team than ever before.  If not considered, can result in the downfall of a growing business through a lack of care for how people can work effectively together, and what their changing needs are.

Whether acquisition or organic growth is in your future, maintaining and evolving the right culture to suit your business should be a priority. How you plan for this will make all the difference.

My tips for keeping the ‘personal touch’;

  • Remain focused on your core values
  • Do what you say you’ll do
  • Listen to your people, and act on their feedback
  • Show you care, and keep it personal through effective leadership
  • Don’t let ‘What’ you are doing get it the way of ‘How’ you do it.