Having a corporate culture that focuses on how your employees perform is no longer healthy for your employees or your business. In fact, 60% of employee absences are due to the overwhelming stress brought about by the understanding that their job security is dependent on their ability to deliver results. This can also cause employees to become less productive, dissatisfied with their work, suffer from burnout, and quit their job.
One study published in the Harvard Business Review recommends the best way to address this by shifting from a performance-based culture to a growth-oriented culture.
The rise of growth-oriented culture
In recent years, startups have become obsessed with growth hacking. That’s because even though it’s a relatively new strategy, growth hacking is effective in getting customers and generating revenue in a short span of time.
Naturally, startups need to have a culture that encourages growth. And more established companies are beginning to follow suit.
What makes a growth-oriented culture unique?
Growth-oriented culture puts a premium on getting results. At the same time, it focuses on providing the employees a safe working environment where mistakes and shortcomings are valued as part of the growth process. As a result, it encourages everyone to become curious and creative without the fear of being judged.
How to transition to a growth-oriented culture
Communicate your values
In the words of Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do. People buy why you do it.”
The only way you can successfully shift to a growth-oriented culture is when everyone in your business is on board 100%.
For that to happen, it’s not enough that you familiarize your employees with your core values. You need to explain to them why these are the core values of your business. That way, they will get a clearer understanding of what your company stands for and the reason behind this.
Having a meeting where you share these with your employees is one effective way to communicate your core values. Not only will they hear your words, but they will also sense the passion in your voice and see your enthusiasm in your actions.
Follow this up by giving each of your employees a manifesto documenting your business’ core values. That way, they’ll have something to refer back to weeks and months after the initial meeting.
Transparency is a crucial element in a growth-oriented culture for three reasons.
First, it helps build a level of trust between you and your employees. When it’s clear to them that you sincerely have their best interest at heart, they will be more encouraged to get things done.
Transparency also helps minimize—if not eliminate—negative gossip and office politics from your organization. That way, you avoid possible tension and friction to arise and affect your employees’ ability to work harmoniously with each other.
More importantly, encouraging transparency within your organization makes your employees feel a part of your business genuinely. When this happens, they become more accountable and more willing to take ownership of their actions.
One way to promote transparency within your business is by making information directly affecting your employees readily available.
Such was the case with Buffer. Not only did they divulge the salaries paid to their employees, but they also shared the formula used to compute through the salary calculator they have posted on their website.
Growth involves some level of change to occur within your business. So if you want to adopt a growth-oriented culture, you must be willing not only to accept change but embrace it.
For this to happen, you must effectively communicate the need for the change and the change it will bring.
More importantly, you must set an example for your employees. Only then can this become integrated into your corporate culture.
Adopt the right communication tools
Employees working in a growth-oriented culture need to be efficient in their work process to produce results quickly. That would mean investing in a communication platform to address critical communication pain points, encourage flexibility, and increase productivity. All this was done with just the help of their mobile phone.
Find the right people.
When hiring people to come on board your business, it’s not enough that you evaluate their intellectual knowledge, skills, and expertise. You need to also carefully consider whether they possess the personality and traits that fit your corporate culture.
This is crucial for startups. That’s because, according to Jim Tolbert, Founder of Vista College, entrepreneurial companies like startups are fast-moving. They want to grow and scale as quickly as possible. As such, they need employees that not only have the skills but the capability to keep pace.
Growth hackers meet these criteria. Aside from being highly-skilled, growth hackers thrive in growth-oriented cultures because, as Sean Ellis puts it, growth is their “true north.”
Make your employees feel valued.
Your employees are your greatest asset. That’s why it’s essential to make an effort to let them know and feel that they are valued and appreciated.
An effective way to do this is by allowing them to take on more responsibilities. This allows your employees to challenge themselves and grow. At the same time, you send them a positive signal that you recognize their skills and potentials.
Other ways to make your employees feel valued and appreciated are:
- Celebrating their birthdays and other occasions that are special to them,
- Encouraging them to give suggestions and considering these,
- Providing mentorship opportunities, and
- Hosting employee appreciation gatherings.
This is perhaps the most challenging of the different steps to take to shift from a performance-based culture to a growth-oriented culture.
Employees working in a performance-based culture have learned to associate their worth and value with their skills and abilities. So, when they receive feedback, they don’t see it as something that could improve them. Instead, they perceive it as a personal attack, making them emotional and defensive.
That said, it’s important to make sure that you carefully ease this into your organization’s culture. And it starts with you.
Ask their honest feedback about your company and leadership style. Mind you, this part is going to be very uncomfortable because you’ll be making yourself vulnerable to whatever your employees will say. However, by setting the example, your employees will become more open to receiving constructive feedback from you.
When giving your constructive feedback, it would be a good idea to follow the sandwich method using the following steps:
- Start by giving your employee some positive comments about the situation that you want to discuss.
- Compliment your employee’s strong points.
- Share your feedback on what can be improved.
- Remind your employee of their strong points.
- Offer your support and help.
- End on a positive note.
Your corporate culture serves as the foundation of your business. Changing this demands a great deal of time, care, and patience. When it is forced onto them, it can cause your employees to exhibit emotional responses to change.
Take these steps and implement them one by one. This allows your employees and leaders to develop the right mindset and slowly adopt the organization’s growth-oriented culture.