Jordan Valencia, Programs and Partnership Manager at Grab Ventures, in her latest article in Harvard Business Review talks about the need to focus on culture when companies are in the Hyper Growth phase. Defined by Alexander V. Izosimov in HBR in 2008, “Hypergrowth refers to the steep part of the S-curve”. The rapid growth comes with steep rise in employee count. This is where the challenges set in.
If systems are not put in place fast enough or the right people are not brought on board the “organization can quickly fall apart.” While there are many hurdles, according to Jordan Valencia “talent is their primary growth challenge. And one of their biggest talent priorities is how to scale and maintain culture. Culture, or the underlying beliefs and values that shape an organization, can indeed be difficult to manage when a company scales from 10 to 1,000 employees.”
Her tips from her ring side view from within startups and work around venture building:
- Define culture in terms of clear, observable behaviors – “The first step to scaling culture is to define each company value or belief into two or three behaviors that people can observe. For example, “respect” can be defined as 1) being a great listener and 2) giving equal consideration to different ideas. The output of this exercise is a clear list of the top 10-15 observable behaviors that define your culture.”
- Build an accessible, digital library of learning content. “Research shows that …employees should be able to access and “pull” learning materials about company culture at any time, whenever they need it.”
- Use blended learning programs to scale culture training. “Hypergrowth companies … can utilize blended learning programs, which combines both online and offline .. to scale learning. For example, instead of long training workshops, shorter in-person sessions can be combined with self-paced offline learning (e.g, study aids, recordings), live e-learning (e.g, virtual classrooms), or web-based seminars.”
- Ensure managers relentlessly reinforce target behaviors. “Not only can employees model the behaviors of their managers, but they also look to managers for approval and direction…..Studies show that highly personalized recognition is crucial in reinforcing desired behaviors.”
The article is a great read even if you are not there yet. Most of the advice around codifying culture and creating a digital library of learning content specific to your company and business could be crucial when the time comes.
Link to the article:
Scaling Culture in Fast-Growing Companies