Creating a WOW Culture
As a business grows in its number of employees, the culture never remains stagnant. It is either flourishing and vibrant, or it weakens as it declines. So how do you scale your culture along with the growth of the company? At SocialSurvey, our culture has been at the forefront of our growth over the last couple of years. In June 2017, there were about a dozen of us in the SocialSurvey team. There is a certain energy and enthusiasm in the beginning that comes with the craziness and the tireless work involved in a start-up business. But how do you keep that going?
How do you scale your culture as your company grows, changes and adapts in both scope and number of employees?
Going from 10 to 50 employees in one year is a test of the foundational aspects of your culture. Scott Harris, our CEO says, “Our company is two things: our customers and our culture.” We are truly focused on culture in our direction and decision-making processes. The ability to scale and maintain a WOW culture as you go requires a number of things. Most of all, it requires consistent attention and priority.
Get to the Core
We believe the first steps to creating and maintaining a WOW culture are our Core Values. Our SVP of People & Culture, John Jackson, came in and helped us formulate our core beliefs and guiding values that define who we are, what we value and how we conduct business relationships. Eight core values underpin our overarching company promise: “Create WOW.” Our pledge is to Create WOW in everything we do. These underlying eight values are more than just words on the wall or slogans on a website. They are called ‘Core Values’ because they drive our decision making, they guide our growth and both protect and project our future.
Another key to scaling culture is embedded in every hire that we add to the team. Adding people to the team is both necessary for scale and critical to culture. It is not enough to find someone who is competent and proficient in a professional task; they must also be made aware of, value and contribute to a consistent culture. Most companies usually discover that when it comes to a cultural fit, it is better to want what you don’t have, than to have what you don’t want. We hire team members that fit, value and contribute to our culture. And if they don’t fit fast, let them go quickly.
“Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality.” —Richard Branson
Reinforce Culture Constantly
Even among positive, committed and directionally connected people, culture commitments can fade over time. To scale culture, core values must be consistently reinforced in positive ways throughout the organization. Longer term team members can lose momentum, while newer team members do not have the history to draw upon. So, we do things constantly to reinforce culture. These can be intentional team building events, culture creatives (weekly team-wide emails lifting culture), calling out and identifying values in meetings and celebrating team members doing something that Creates WOW.
One of the biggest keys to scaling our culture through organizational growth has been the introduction of a Leadership Lifter. John Jackson is going to lead a live Leadership Lifter in October, but here is a sneak peak and resource that you can use yourself!
A Leadership Lifter is a regularly scheduled team building event for team leaders in the organization. By consistently reinforcing culture into our team leaders, it naturally infiltrates our entire organization. Much like a sports team with a head coach meeting with the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special teams, we bring all our leaders together intentionally.
This is not a meeting to discuss business, product, or production. Instead, we enhance their leadership skills and character, while simultaneously evaluating our own effectiveness in implementing values throughout the organization. By constantly reinforcing our shared core-values, they flourish as individuals and as leaders. This brings value to them and subsequently our whole team.
3 Components of Leadership Lifters:
- Shared Learning: Take a book, podcast, or some sort of inspiration challenge and have everyone spend time in it, absorbing it in advance. Leaders are learners!
- Shared Growth: Come together and discuss how the topic challenged you as a person or a leader. Share steps you want to add to your tool box to make you a better leader & team member.
- Shared Collaboration: Leaders sometimes feel like they are on an island. This is a time to collaborate & find shared wisdom for challenges in different parts of the team.
Do these pointers help you? Continue the conversation in the SocialSurvey Facebook Group as you scale your own organization and grow culturally.