Creating and Maintaining Organizational Culture during Rapid Growth
By Melissa Prusher – Vice President, Global Marketing, Avaap
I recently asked a group of C-level leaders about the secret to their business success and responses ranged from having a solid business plan to hitting sales numbers, securing capital investments, hiring the right talent and innovative product development. Not a single respondent talked about culture.
According to research conducted by analytics and consulting firm Great Place to Work, organizations with happy employees have three times the revenue growth and half the employee turnover. When employers get culture right, employees stay longer, work harder, work more creatively and find ways to go the extra mile. They also attract other top performers, which extends to better experiences for colleagues and customers.
Having secured a sixth Best Places to Work in IT award and third in healthcare, it speaks to the emphasis Avaap puts on culture. Good culture doesn’t just happen, however. It needs to be protected and nurtured, especially in times of growth.
What worked for us initially, an employee-centric, people-first culture, still works today even as we’ve scaled from a double-digit team to hundreds of employees located across North America and Europe. It has made it tougher to bring everyone together, but easier to see the need to proactively transfer the passionate spirit we cultivated in a small group to the larger team.
Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned as our business has expanded:
Communicating the vision is critical. Turning visions into reality requires clearly defined goals so that that each employee understands how their contributions help the leader and organization achieve the vision. Meet often, host town hall meetings, and target your messages so everyone understands their role in the business success.
Define your culture. What is your organization’s mission, value, ethics, expectations and goals? We conducted an exercise to determine the personality of our organization and the elements that are important to how we work. Passion, transparency, goal-oriented, innovative and genuineness are some of the attributes we identified as important when looking at management styles, strategic plans, leadership and basic operating of the organization.
Hire the right people. Wrong fit talent can have a disastrous effect on corporate culture. Weed out ineffective or toxic managers before they deplete morale and have a detrimental effect on productivity and employee well-being. Providing training can improve employee behavior, but make it clear what the consequences are if individuals cannot change and recognize it may be time to let them go if you don’t see improvement.
Communicate with transparency. Trust and respect are key happiness drivers. Treat employees well and keep them in the loop so they know what’s going on. Don’t sugar coat bad news and give praise when deserved. Authentic and transparent workplaces have better employee alignment, faster problem solving and stronger business performance.
Invest in development. Employees who have the proper training, tools and knowledge support a culture that is educated and efficient. Employee development says to team members we value you and your growth. It also contributes to team members more likely to stick around.
Companies that invest time and energy into their culture and employees’ wellbeing are rewarded with more engaged employees, leading to higher performance and lower turnover. With healthcare facing a talent shortage, attention on culture can help retain your best talent and drive deeper commitment to company goals.