As their offices grow, and more and more people begin working remotely, many companies that started out as small, intimate groups may find themselves operating as a large, geographically dispersed team. While it may be easier to maintain your company’s vibe when numbers are small and team members are all in the same coworking space, your culture shouldn’t be restricted by office walls. It’s crucial to maintain a positive dynamic that encourages open communication, no matter where your workers are located.
As your business expands, you may be struggling to scale your culture and make your remote team members feel included. Below, experts from Forbes Coaches Council offer strategies to create a sense of community and grow your culture with your business.
1. Focus On Your People’s Needs
Company culture is a reflection of the values exhibited by the leadership team. Some of the foundational principles that guide the culture remain the same whether you have 10 employees or 10,000. It’s important to listen to your people and to take care of their needs. If you’re operating virtually, the vehicles to nurture those relationships will shift, but the core concepts remain the same. - Carolina Caro
2. Reflect, Refine And Release
Reflect on what your company culture is, because it will evolve over time. Then refine what you truly want and what you don’t want as part of the ideal culture you aspire for. Break it down into values and expected behaviors. Finally, release it with well-crafted related policies and standards, along with a powerful communication strategy, and plan to educate, inspire and remind employees. - Amy Nguyen, Happiness Infinity LLC
3. Create Team Charters
A company culture is created by everyone aligning around shared values. How each person expresses these values might be different, especially if your remote team is international. Ask each core team to collaboratively create their own Team Charter outlining their vision, rituals and common practices for living and breathing these shared values. This also will help new employees to quickly align. - Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker Leadership Academy
4. Regularly Reinforce Values
More than just a list of words posted in a lunchroom, values should be an integral part of the company culture built into hiring and onboarding practices. Scaling this requires constant reinforcement. Every interaction, communication and hallway conversation is an opportunity to reinforce and strengthen the culture. Employees who feel connected to the culture become ambassadors for the company. - Tracey Grove, Pure Symmetry Coaching and Consulting
5. Reward Employees Who Cultivate Your Culture
If culture is important, reward the people who take care of it — The people who will organize the birthday cards. The ones who will volunteer their spare time to help others. The ones who will take initiative to make the workplace better. Your employees will have more and better ideas about how to improve the culture than you will ever do. Empower them and reward them for going after them. - Caterina Kostoula, The Leaderpath
6. Ensure Your Culture Is Strong, But Flexible
As you scale operations, the DNA of a strong culture will be embedded through the company’s values as you hire, evaluate performance, promote employees and continue to grow. Enable remote offices and employees to flex within the culture to add more localized customs or traditions. This helps empower them and develops their leadership. If your values are solid, they will help sustain your culture. - Julianne Cenac Ph.D., The Leader Channel
7. Establish A Clear Communication Plan
Start with a communication plan. Address how, when and what individuals and teams will communicate. Provide remote employees with tools to stay connected and engaged virtually. Establish rules of engagement so individuals and teams trust and respect each other. Socialize the expectations, get feedback and, finally, institutionalize the outcome. - Alan Trivedi, MBA PCC, Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group
8. Model The Culture During Group Meetings And Activities
When meeting with your team, virtually or in person, it’s important to model, verbally and nonverbally, your team culture. This can be communicated through your dress, the agenda (or lack thereof), the flow of interaction and so on. If you want to promote a structured culture, then you should provide structure; whereas a more relaxed culture may allow a more free flow of interaction. - LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group
9. Empower Team Leaders To Scale Your Culture For You
Your direct influence on culture only extends to a limited number of people. The way the culture spreads is by empowering your team leaders to scale that culture for you. If the leaders you interact with most often feel responsible for the culture they establish within their team, you can scale culture. - Scott Swedberg, The Job Sauce
10. Remember Your ‘Why’
When scaling the culture of your company, it is essential to remember your “why” — the purpose of your cause or the premise of what you believe. As your team grows, the goal is still sustainability. This is an opportunity to highlight the strengths of team members and identify areas of improvement. Learn to trust the longevity of the process, work as a collective and overcome challenges that arise. - A. Margot Brisky, ELDA4U, LLC
11. Tell Your Stories
Culture doesn’t scale — it persists. If history is an example, cultures persist when they are rich with traditions, folklore and stories. Within a company, take notice of your traditions and institutionalize them. Understand which events were seminal to the organization and tell the stories. Celebrate your history, know what makes you special, build your tribe and your culture will persist. - Jim Vaselopulos, Rafti Advisors, Inc.
12. Web Conference To Bond, Not Just To Work
One of my clients held a Webex lunch meeting with his remote teams in India, Japan and the Netherlands at least once a week. They planned the food options, traded recipes and tried each other’s cuisine. This creative move developed bonds that didn’t just involve deadlines, holding people accountable and telling them what to do. It build esprit de corps that translated into productivity. - John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
Originally posted on Forbes Coaches Council. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/12/06/12-ways-to-scale-your-culture-as-your-company-grows