If we had to create a profile for the typical “startup” culture in Austin, Texas, it would consist of:
Breakfast tacos in the fridge;
A ping-pong table in the common area for mental breaks;
An in-person “all hands on deck” meeting at least once a week;
Coffee—or beer—on tap;
Close collaboration among all departments, an open floor plan and periodic karaoke sessions.
These cultural elements can be difficult to sustain during periods of high growth. Scaling a company means fewer opportunities for team-building, company-wide meetings and, ultimately, cultivating culture.
Fortunately, there are a few small things you can implement to ensure your values and culture scale with you.
Hire for your values and communicate them often
This can be particularly hard for high-growth companies facing a shortage of tech talent, but it’s crucial that you maintain cultural and value-based standards when hiring. There may be instances in which you see a great resume and feel the need to make the hire, even if there are potential misalignments with your culture, values or workplace environment. Failing to heed the warning signs can be disastrous and toxic, so always be sure your new hires fit within the culture you’re molding.
It’s also a good idea to print out your values and mission—especially if you have an influx of new hires. Save it as a desktop background, nail it to a wall, create lanyards or printouts, whatever you have to do to frequently reinforce your company’s belief system.
Let the C-suite and senior employees act as “culture ambassadors”
Show, don’t tell. This is a cliche (something we hate around here), but it’s an important one to mention for executives at high-growth companies. There’s no easier way to gain a reputation for a lack of authenticity than telling employees to follow a set of values to which you yourself don’t adhere.
This is an expectation that should be relayed to the C-suite and other layers of upper management. But, if you’ve hired well, this problem should take care of itself.
Allow for open communication and collaboration
Sometimes, an open-door (or floor) policy needs to be taken literally. Even in the largest companies, an open floor plan with no closed doors allows for an environment that invites employees to connect, collaborate and create. This fosters an atmosphere of zero intimidation, equipping employees to have productive conversations from C-suite all the way down to intern.