How to Protect Your Culture During Times of Growth by Defining Core Values

December 27, 2018
Jeremy Wells

One of the biggest keys to successful growth for your organization is your core values. The best places to work in the world are places which have a culture built upon strong pillars of core values which act as a polestar for these organizations in everything they do. As core values are lived and breathed by the people in the organization, that is when the brand truly comes to life. However, during times of growth, it becomes challenging to protect these core values.

The solution to this problem would be simple if businesses never changed, but they do. In fact, they change all the time. CEOs depart or move to new roles, mergers and acquisitions occur, rapid growth can happen suddenly, and employees will be let go or leave.

1. Two core questions

During these moments of change or growth, your culture is susceptible to decay and can be weakened. It’s vital to have a firm grasp around what sort of culture you want to build before these challenges come. You should begin by first having a clear answer to these two questions:

“What culture do we want for our business?”

“What culture do we want moving forward as we grow?”

When these two questions are answered you can then have a better strategy in place to ensure that they’ll stay aligned as your business grows. With that strategy in place, you’ll be more prepared for the challenges ahead. In addition to these, here are a few other things to keep in mind as you are protecting your culture during times of growth.

2. Trust the heart and check the pulse

Find the pulse of your team and become familiar with how it’s functioning on a daily basis. There are probably things happening that you may not be aware of. For instance, there’s likely positive things happening without you needing to intercede or be involved. Also, team member retention is a great indicator that your culture is heading in the right direction. Another indicator of a healthy culture is that your team is hitting targets, performing their duties well, and experiencing great personal fulfillment as well.

As long as your team is productive and functional, the best thing to do is let it continue – follow it as it evolves. However, don’t stray from the core values you hold. Understand that people are the heart of your organization, but as the leader of your organization, it’s your job to maintain a healthy pulse and see the big picture.

3. If it works, make it even better

As your business grows don’t be afraid to make changes to your culture based on things that are already working or adding value to your company. If your company is made up of young workers that are doing a great job, reaching their targets, yet enjoy working remotely, then it could be a good idea to make it official and allow them to work off-site more regularly. Maybe your team gets energized from taking short breaks in the kitchen and socializing around a cup of coffee. Instead of instituting new rules and asking them to take fewer breaks, this could be a great opportunity to embrace the cultural benefits and upgrade your kitchen and coffee area to something more robust and special for your employees. If there is something that is adding to the culture of your company and helping the company succeed, then it should be recognized and made even better.

4. Putting the puzzle together

When your business has grown quickly to a significantly larger size, it probably isn’t realistic to believe that your culture can be perfectly maintained. But this isn’t a bad thing, because your culture is constantly evolving. It can be adjusted, adapted, or renewed. Your team members come from different backgrounds, have different experiences, and distinct personalities. It can be tempting to try and change your team members and fit them into the perfect piece to complete the puzzle as you see it. However, as long as your team is moving in a unified direction, and maintaining the core values of the organization, then the differences should be embraced.

Final thoughts:

Just as your business will inevitably change, so to must your culture evolve. It doesn’t mean that you abandon your values the moment change occurs, but it leaves room for the meaning and purpose of your values to expand and adjust. When changes occur there should be complete transparency with your team so that your culture will maintain trust within your organization.

If you want a brand that’s built to last, and be successful in a competitive market you must have a culture built upon your core values. Protect these values as you grow and transition occurs. Communicate it clearly to your team, and of course lead by example by ensuring that you are living out the core values defined.

Longitude is a brand agency specializing in strategy and identity design. Have a question or a project?

Jeremy Wells

Partner at Longitude°

Jeremy is the author of Future Hospitality and Brand Strategist at Longitude°. As a member of the Education Committee for The Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) and a content contributor to Cornell University’s Hospitality Vision and Concept Design graduate program, he is a committed thought leader in hotel branding, concepting, and experience strategy.