Is Your Culture Growing Along with Your Business?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Owners of startup companies are often driven by their passion to succeed. When these owners hire their first few employees, they expect the team members to share their vision and their desire to work hard. The benefits may come in the form of flexibility, informality or maybe even a share of ownership in the organization. Over time, as the organization grows, the culture should grow, too. When it doesn’t, you’ll run into trouble.

Alex Slater, at Clyde Group, chronicled his story for bigstory​.ap​.org. After many years of running his company and focusing on growth, key employees were leaving. He undertook a survey and discovered that staff members felt they were working too hard and were poorly compensated.

Slater’s situation reveals a deeper issue that is rooted in our general culture. Business owners and leaders, are often older than their new employees. All too often, they’re still striving to bring new business in the door and talk too much about what it took to succeed 'in the old days.' This focus can make them seem aloof, unfriendly and uncaring. They may also be following an old rule book, one that demands employees work as hard as they do.

Human resources consultants who come into an organization that is experiencing culture problems will address these issues immediately. In today’s competitive job market, leaders must take extra steps to make employees feel valued and important. If you expect your team members to work harder to meet a deadline, increase tangible rewards like bonuses and retirement programs. You’ll need to enhance non-​tangible rewards, too. Improve the communications process so everyone is on the same page in terms of knowing what’s going on. Show team members they are valued by offering professional development and a chance to move up the ladder internally.

Above all, solicit feedback from existing and department employees about the organization’s culture. Don’t be afraid to make big cultural changes to accommodate the way the business is growing.