Cultural Tipping Points

Cultural Tipping Points

When companies are in start-up mode, headcount is small. Business is relational and CEOs typically engage at a more functional level. In this stage, communication is straightforward. Infusing personal values into your team is a natural outcome of your stage of growth.  There’s a shared sense of purpose that leaves less opportunity for confusion or interpretation. As your company expands, you’ll cross several thresholds of growth that represent cultural ‘tipping points.’ It’s critical to anticipate and address these with intentionality and strategy – simply assuming ‘business as usual’ will do the trick can be the kiss of (cultural) death.

Who Is the Owner?
If you place a high value on your corporate culture, choose a key leader to champion it. Without an owner, culture becomes a nebulous concept that’s impossible to advance or measure. Choose carefully – watch for members of your leadership team who embody the DNA of your culture and empower them. Doing so also sends a powerful message to your staff by reinforcing the value that senior leadership places on culture.

Over Communicate
Unpacking what you value as a company and why can never be communicated enough! Be specific and repetitive. Seize every opportunity to reinforce these messages – and don’t assume because your values were included in the annual meeting last fall that people remember (or apply) them accurately. Recall is just the starting point to casting a cultural vision that establishes the DNA of your company.

Culture and Recruitment Strategy
Often companies that are struggling with their current culture will gravitate toward candidates who come from cultures that they admire. There’s a hope that they can “retrofit” the aspects of the desirable culture and infuse those values into an existing structure. This hiring misstep generally results in frustrated, unhappy employees and hiring managers who wonder what went wrong with their plan.

Beginning your recruitment strategy with a candid, timely assessment of your current culture clears a path to authentically assess a candidate’s potential for success as well as their ability to reinforce or even reshape culture.

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