The other day I read an article on inc.com about “How to Work more Like a Start-Up”. Since I love a good case study on successful management styles, this one quickly had me engaged. In this story, a CEO enhanced productivity in the workplace by taking the agile development process and applying it to all aspects of the business. This allowed his team to be energized by short sprints to success, staying focused and motivated by reaching regular milestones.
Like a good article should, it got me thinking. There is something energizing about a “start-up” work environment. It produces a corporate culture of involvement, focus, and going the “extra mile” while having fun. But this type of culture becomes harder to maintain as your business grows. In my opinion, this “Start-Up” culture does not have such a short shelf life. If you focus on keeping the energy alive, you can maintain this environment even with hundreds of employees. A few things for the management team to consider:
State your vision and align your execution. At ifridge, we would call this the “Why” and we see that companies who have a clear vision are more successful than those that don’t take the time to focus. When it comes to corporate culture, as important as establishing the “Why”, is articulating it to the team. People are more motivated when they know where they are going. Alignment gets the entire organization to not only know where they are going but also gain satisfaction from being part of the journey.
Stay close no matter how big and virtual you become. Every company has the handful of evangelists. These are often the people who started the company and just being in their presence motivates everyone. As your company grows, make an effort to provide access to these individuals. A combination of face-to-face and virtual meetings will go a long way. Remember that a 30 minute brown bag lunch session every other month can keep up the motivation and moral during the times when visibility is less.
Lead & Develop. As executives we often don’t realize how much the rest of the organization respects and admires your success. A small introduction in the hall or email of a job well done can have a strong impact. When you look at where to invest consider a portion towards your people. Offer continuing education, more face-to-face meetings, or even simple “spot” thank you awards. Invest early and see the payoff.
Lastly, LIVE it. Setting an example is the best way to lead. Culture can’t be constructed - it needs to evolve naturally. Embracing the uniqueness of the team and allowing everyone’s strength to shine motivates not only that individual but also everyone around them.