24 Jan Blending and Building Startup Culture in the Traditional Office Environment
As a small business owner, you already know that company culture is key to your brand’s success. It affects everything from the kind of people you employ and the customers who choose to buy from you, to your brand’s reputation and your products or services.
But how do you blend startup culture and traditional offices? More importantly, how do you keep that culture alive once your company starts growing, suddenly booming from 10 to 100, even to 1,000 employees?
In this post I’ll cover a plan of action for keeping your company’s unique culture alive while adapting to the demands of your growth. You might think this is a Herculean task, but these clear and super-actionable tips can help you adjust.
1. Define Your Company’s Culture
Your organization’s workspace needs to embody a blend of startup and traditional culture. This means that instead of focusing on keeping your original company culture intact, your focus should shift towards blending the small startup culture with that of a larger, more traditional office culture. This can mean moving into a bigger building with a more stark look, but livening it up with splashes of color. It can also mean a more organized workspace, but with designated ‘play’ areas for employees to lighten up and get creative (say a ping pong table).
So in summary, create a working environment where employees understand the basic operational protocol but have the sense of freedom to personalize their working environment within the boundaries.
2. Key Values
Next, as your company gets larger it is very important to identify what it is about your team that is most important. The high priority characteristics will form your key values that help to mold your culture as your company grows. For example, if your company values caring for others and putting in your best each day, these should be communicated through everything your company does.
The entire cascade of the staff should know these values like the back of their hand and understand that they are a key part of working for your company. Managers and leaders within the company should use these as their foundation when communicating with employees and making company decisions. Your entire company should live and breathe these values to create a cohesive brand where a unified mindset is shared.
3. Don’t Be Afraid of Small Group Segmenting
A business just can’t be successful without a sense of direction and, of course, organization. As a start-up grows, it will need a more structured hierarchy in order to keep things running smoothly. However, this doesn’t mean you need to jump into a multi-level bureaucracy. Instead, breaking up employees into smaller groups can be very beneficial and effective. Small teams allow employees to specialize in specific areas, innovate, have their ideas heard, collaborate more, and they have shown to increase employee satisfaction. This organization structure can strike a nice balance between start up and the traditional office.
4. Leverage to Power of Social Media
We’re all human, which means that most of us like and use social media. Your company’s culture can benefit from social media usage, and if you haven’t been using that to your advantage, you’ve been missing out big time. Customers love engaging with their favorite brands online, which means they could be interacting with your company, with your employees, but most importantly, getting a taste of that important company culture that you want and need to show to the world. Don’t be afraid of creating profiles for your company on various social media platforms and urging your employees to interact with them. This doesn’t only benefit your customers, but greatly aids in building a blended culture.
Once you’ve pinned down who your company is, and what it stands for, there is one final hurdle. This hurdle revolves around flexibility, and how you plan to create, maintain, and adapt your company culture once your organization goes from being small and tight knit, to larger and more established. Strike the balance between what defines your company and what you’re willing to adapt to, and you’ll have a company culture that’s suitable for upscaling, without the threat of losing its original purpose and authenticity in the process.
The take home lesson here is that you’re no longer faced with deciding between startup and traditional culture because it IS possible to have both. The tips you just read can help you get the best of both worlds, ultimately helping you achieve success no matter how many employees your company has or where in the world they’re based!