How to grow your business without damaging the culture

Elizabeth Beattie

Everyone wants to see their business grow; it’s an indicator that what you’re doing is working. But while growth and expansion are all positive signs and indicate an exciting future, it’s important to make sure your business grows the right way and you don’t lose the good thing you have going.

Workplace culture is not just important from a growth perspective, it’s also important for your staff and business productivity.

And here’s the research to back it up: The Department of Economics at the University of Warwick found that happy workers are 12 per cent more productive than the average worker, and unhappy workers are 10 per cent less productive; costing businesses in the US over $300 billion each year.

So – culture really is an important piece of the puzzle you must get right!

Assess the impact

Before making any ‘next step’ decisions and changes (especially when it comes to structural or staff additions), take some time out to think about how these might impact on your business as a whole.

Growing your business will always result in changes, whether intentional or unintentional; these may mean processes become more rigid, or you might need to change premises or bring in new talent. Regardless of how your business is growing, it’s important to take steps to safeguard your workplace culture and environment to be sure you can sustain additional growth.

The Harvard Business Review suggests that great culture is made up of six different components; Vision, Values, Practices, People, Narrative, Place.

When making any changes to your business, it’s a good idea to assess exactly what impact this is going to have – and how it might alter each of those facets of your business, positively and negatively.

It’s important to take steps to safeguard your workplace culture and environment to be sure you can sustain additional growth.

Open your door to feedback

It’s also important for your staff to know you’re open to feedback and want to hear their thoughts on how these changes are affecting them. Your staff can often give you a heads-up and first-hand insight into many different aspects of how your business operates day-to-day. This type of feedback is essential - particularly in regard to those smaller, seemingly insignificant changes.

Decide your cultural identity

It’s also worth remembering that great culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and while it may develop naturally, ensuring you maintain and continue to cultivate a great workplace culture can take a little work. Communication and feedback is key here - as is determining the type of culture you want to grow that will work well for your business.

Assess what really makes your business work. This means asking yourself questions like: Why do these areas work so well? What would make them work better?

Reflecting on processes and environmental factors is a worthwhile practice, and a great way to make yourself aware of how your business functions. And again, take the time to ask your staff for their thoughts on these areas.

Assess what really makes your business work.

The takeaways

During times of change, people can often feel a little unsure or unsettled, and this can really impact on productivity. So make sure during every change, you continue to make it clear that culture is still a big priority. Making time to have some fun definitely helps.

And when bringing on new staff, this is also a great opportunity to get them across your culture. End of year parties, celebratory drinks for securing a big contract, or a work competition are all simple events you can organise which really mean a lot to your staff.

When bigger opportunities open up to your business, this also comes with greater opportunity to look after your staff and nurture the way your business functions so you can continue to grow in a way that’s right for you.

Elizabeth Beattie

Elizabeth Beattie is a freelance journalist and writer living in Melbourne. In her spare time she takes photos. You can tweet her via @Eliz_Beattie

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