Scaling culture in a fast growing company
Serghei Covali, CEO at Best4u International is sure that “Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.” But how should fast growing companies keep their culture? How to avoid losing it, as you bring on-board more talents, have better defined processes and move away from being an enthusiastic start-up?
What are the key steps one can take to ensure you don’t lose your culture, as you grow and scale rapidly?
This is a unique challenge that will face many companies during their growth. Here at Best4u International, we have achieved high level of growth for the past year, which consequently created certain pressure on everything from our processes, to yes, our culture. At the same time we’ve been recognized as a great place to work, which means we are on the right path.
Based on our experiences, we recommend companies to take the following actions:
- Name cultural ambassadors. The ambassadors are responsible for finding ways to create and communicate your culture. For example, we decided to change our onboarding process for new employees based on the recommendations of our ambassadors, which are the ones who help us strengthen how we communicate Best4u International’s high performance culture.
- Create a specific plan for communication. Effective communication doesn’t just happen, it takes some effort to create a communication plan for successfully delivering your messages to your key audiences. Such actions will include everything from ensuring that everyone from the company knows your values, to ensuring leaders receive storytelling training, so they can relate the “why” of your company.
- Measure and analyze via periodical engagement surveys. While this may seem like an usual procedure that almost every company undertakes, it is still one of the most effective tools. Thoughtfully selecting the questions to reflect the motivations, empowers you to analytically follow how your culture is balancing in your organization. For example, you can ask questions which will link to direct and indirect motivations. Then by dividing the data you can see sub-groups, or see what is happening in different teams, or within people of different ages and interests. It’s then possible to see how it affects your workplace environment. Ideally, companies can implement engagement surveys as a diagnostic tool that they can then set up specific actions upon.
- Research industry best practices. Some companies have succeeded to create a culture which defines their identity and is an important factor to their success. Experts regularly cite companies such as Apple, Google, or Microsoft. Companies who provide their teams with packages, from competitive compensation and benefits to strong leadership and positive environments, will see this pay off in recruiting and retaining the best talent.
We are constantly looking at industry leaders to see what they are doing, reading the latest research on the factors that impact performance. Then, together with the management team evaluate the ideas and if appropriate implement them.
Moreover, what differentiates us as a company working based on extended team model, is the fact that besides being part of Best4u International culture in Moldova, our developers are part of the culture of the companies they work for. It offers a great sense of belonging for each member. But how do we do that?
- Permanent trips of the team to the office of the partner company. So we encourage the exchange of experience between the in-house team and the remote one and facilitate good cooperation and friendship between them.
- Holidays spent together. Being Christmas spent in the Austrian mountains, or International Developers’ Day celebrated in sunny Barcelona, our partners try to keep the team spirit alive.
- Involve team members in improving company processes. What could be better than a hackathon spent in a villa in Belgium, where in a relaxing atmosphere, are discussed and implemented company improvement strategies. This will strengthen their feelings of self-confidence and motivation and will reinforce their sense of purpose working for your company.
- Appreciation. Who doesn’t like to be appreciated and feel that what he does brings value? Thank-you notes, thank-you gifts, kudos, mentions in testimonials, etc. We are working with partners who are not shy, but proud to recognize the efforts of their extended teams and praise their efforts and their well done job. This is what creates the close connection between developers and the company they work for. They feel they are part of a team, of a family who appreciates them.
- Connect the team from Moldova to the partners’ country traditions and vice versa. Be it chocolate letters for Sinterklaas (Dutch tradition) or Martisor for March 1st (symbol of spring in Moldova), how cool is it when you can expand your cultural horizons and learn the traditions and customs of other countries?
Conclusively, a company’s culture is and should be individual from the competitors. It’s incredibly hard to reproduce a great culture. At the same time it also helps you outperform and remain competitive in a changing marketplace. But it’s not something which will simply happen- it’s a common effort that requires a systematic approach, from the core team members of the company.