Growing your business while holding on to your company values: 8 tips from CEO’s

Opening up new branches is a happy and rewarding moment. Your efforts are paying off, people appreciate your vision. They like what you’re offering. Plenty of reason to celebrate. Plenty of reason to be extra attentive, too. Scaling up is a make-or-break moment for your business. In the midst of big changes, market developments and competitors’ moves, you also need to preserve what made your concept so successful and original. You need to give your business’ unique experience and your company values room to grow, rather than letting them slide. The good news is that this is something well within your control.

Focusing on a consistent atmosphere is one thing, but there’s much more you can do. Here’s 8 tips from founders who have successfully expanded their business to multiple branches.

1. Spell out your company values

Make sure you know very clearly what your business stands for. If you can’t describe your values to yourself, you certainly will not be able to communicate them to other employees you might not see every day. Know what the drivers of your business are, the values you stand by, and the behaviours they shape. Clarity is your step one.

2. Tell your story – repeatedly – and leave it open-ended

When the team grows, your communication becomes crucial. Don’t expect your newly hired employees in a new branch to spontaneously assimilate what your business is all about. Make sure everyone knows your founding story, why your business is shaped the way it is, why certain things are important and other aren’t. Repeat this often enough. And most of all: explain to your employees how they can contribute and continue your business’ unique story.

3. Go for value-driven recruitment

This one you will read over and over again. Founders consistently emphasize taking your time to hire people that fit in with your values – in addition to having the skills you need. It’s not just a matter of creating a fun place to work. There are benefits and opportunities for cost reduction as well. Careful, value-driven recruiting results in less turnover and absenteeism. As one CEO puts it: “This will pay off tremendously over the long term: This way the new hire won’t vanish, prompting a need to restart the hiring process in six months.”

This does not mean you hire people who are practically copies of each other, with no room for new ideas or perspectives. Quite the contrary. It means you hire people who can work well together, who will trust each other, which leaves more room for dialogue and fresh perspectives.

4. Check in with your company values regularly and trust your data

Several CEO’s report keeping track of their culture on a yearly or even daily basis, supported by data. In this LinkedIn article, brand expert Denise John describes it as follows: “robust measurement is critical for understanding business performance on key dimensions and culture is no exception”. In short, you don’t wait for signs of problems – you keep track and prevent them. Since there are too many people to speak to individually, go  about this in a way that’s scaleable and objective. There are tools out there to help you get this job done – Twegos is one of them.

5. Know the powerful voices in your company

Figure out which ones of your employees have most leverage in your organization. Their performance is best, they are exemplary of the experience you want to give to your customers, perhaps they have been with you from the very start. In any case, they are people you want to invest in and give a platform. Make them your ambassadors and treat them accordingly. Taking care of your company’s culture means taking care of those who embody it and giving them opportunities to grow.  

6. Embrace diversity within company culture

You want to work with people who fit with your values and who will feel at ease with each other. That does not mean they all have to be the same. Focussing on shared values actually is an opportunity to eliminate certain unconscious biases we all have. It provides you with an objective basis for your recruitment process, leaving more room for all the differences in age, gender, culture or ethnicity  that might enrich your workforce. We devoted a blog post  to this subject.

7. Be flexible

Not everyone that is hired, will work with you directly on a daily basis. Make sure you don’t hire for a match with you personally, but for a match with the values you and your company hold. Reinforce that match by making sure team managers have a good fit with their teams. They have the most immediate impact on your employees’ engagement. This way, you create teams that will function well, independently of you or your co-founders.

8. When it’s just not there, don’t be afraid to let people go

Even when someone has all the right skills, it’s not a good idea to keep them in your organization for a long period of time when they just don’t do things in a way that matches your business’ approach. First of all, they are a threat to the consistent customer experience you aim to deliver across your branches. Secondly, by creating little subcultures around them, they might actually drive away employees that do match your company. The whole process is explained with wonderful metaphors by Eric Sinoway in this HBR article. In short: when it’s just not there, it’s time to go.

 Scaling up and opening new branches is often challenging, for many reasons. Your customer experience is one the things you firmly control. If you keep your business’ values in focus, you are well on your way to safeguard the unique experience you want to provide every day, in every branch.

If you are looking for the right tools to do this, check in with Twegos. We are more than happy to help you with objective, value-driven recruitment and HR.