Over the last two years, our business has experienced dramatic growth, and with that, we needed to take on more staff across almost all departments. Coping with such a rapid increase in size, presented itself with some unique challenges, not least of all was a dilution of a culture that had been nurtured since the company’s inception some 25 years ago. Morale was compromised, as responsibilities often overlapped, or were not clearly defined.
While many organisations may feel they have great platforms in place to cultivate talent in the business, it was our view that we needed to take a holistic view on the key touch points that influenced our culture, further aligning with our overall strategy.
With this in mind, we decided to consult with the experts.
It may be stating the obvious, but everything in the company flows from the top down – and influences the culture of the business. This prompted a journey of self-discovery for the Exco team. Each member not only went through an individual assessment but also a group feedback session. Once we knew more about each other, how we engaged and interacted with one another as well as our colleagues, we could hold one another accountable for our behaviour.
Our ability to lead by example and behave appropriately would ultimately determine the success of how we influenced the culture. If we were not united, it would be impossible to unite the team. This meant we had to be authentic in our approach, share information transparently, engage in meaningful conversations and treat everyone as equals. This would go a long way to breaking down any barriers.
This turned out to be quite an introspective process, but starting at the top made a lot of sense. We worked on ourselves and then started the same process with the management team, on-boarding them with the goals and the processes required. Once they understood more about one another, their roles and how important they were to the plan, we could then be united as one team working together. It was important that our most senior members of the management team had completely bought into the plan.
Following this, we aligned all employees with our strategy and our vision, working on our values and culture as part of the overall strategy. Each person, being accountable for their role or job function, and how this tied into the strategy, ultimately moves us towards the vision through each and every role with the behavioural aspect being a very important measure of each individuals’ performance as well as their day to day commitments within their job functions. This was achieved through a startup event and a three sixty review process.
The thoughts around following this process? Well, once Exco and the Management team worked together holistically, we formed more meaningful interactions and had a plan which could filter through the entire organisation. Something as small as making a conscious effort to deliver on our promises to the team has gone a long way in creating a respectful working environment. We have experienced that consistency in our interactions and continually updating the team is key in influencing the overall outcome.
Naturally, ongoing workshops are of great benefit to receive maximum traction, and to this end, we have created our own training facility – focusing not only on the soft skills required but ongoing technical training for all the staff in areas relevant to our business.
The value placed on staff retention cannot be overestimated. This will assist in retaining IP in our business, cut down on recruitment costs in that we will hire the correct culture fit from the start, developing longer and more meaningful relationships with our clients, and ultimately forming a more naturally client-centric approach almost unconsciously. This, in turn, should make our business more profitable and sustainable over time. Holding true to our values, putting a bit of heart into everything we do within our organisation and genuinely valuing our people, we believe will go a long way to creating a solid foundation for us to leverage from, and a tangible long term value – through actively influencing our culture.
To the best of our knowledge, an undertaking of this kind is a first in our industry in this country, and while there is much work yet to be done, we believe that the results of our efforts are already starting to show tangible results.