How To Scale Up Without Losing Company Culture

If your company is in high-growth mode, the question, “how will we keep our company culture?” might be on your mind often.

An article by Harvard Business Review, “Scaling Culture in Fast-Growing Companies,” defines company culture as having clear observable behaviors; building an accessible digital library of learning content, using blended learning programs to scale culture training, and ensuring managerial enforcement of target behaviors.

A good friend of mine (and expert recruiter) recently helped scale a biotech company by hundreds of employees. In a recent forum, he offered some great advice on scaling company culture as growth occurs. First, start with the idea that culture recruitment is done up-front and “everybody’s a recruiter.”

Additional ideas he cited?

  • Be honest and transparent. Don’t try to sell the role. Talk about the real situation.
  • Define role requirements up-front (prior to writing and posting an ad): for example, include necessary skills as “must have/non-negotiable,” and preferred, but not vital qualifications as “nice to have.”
  • Answer candidate questions in an initial informational interview, then screen applicants in a second interview to see if they are the right fit — including having them explain why they might be one. Small biotech’s can’t pay what big pharmaceutical companies can, but culture and equity can be better incentives to attract top talent.
  • Create “fireside chats” with company executives to communicate mission/vision/values, what’s important, set clear expectations, and ensure everyone is in
  • End interviews and events with a call to action (CTA). Similar to marketing, use CTAs to discover which candidates your offering resonates with.
  • Onboarding is key: Get the small things right. For example, in this hiring bonanza, the IT department had everything ready for each person’s first day. For efficiency, his company moved onboarding to online portals. Also, provide each hire with a company plan on the way in, including who the stakeholders are.

Companies involved in hypergrowth can also get their employees involved in shaping culture, hosting group meals, and team-building sessions. Seek opportunities to recognize and reward employees for exhibiting core values and create opportunities for employees to get to know each other beyond the day-to-day business setting.

In addition, management can make themselves personally accessible and visible to workers, while taking time to learn more about their employees.

If you’d like some help with this, and to understand how you can overcome some of these issues, please contact us.