Scaling a business from a startup to a global business is hard enough. But scaling the culture can be harder. Most senior executives would agree it should be a top priority in terms of driving company value, but research shows that only 16% of leaders would say their culture is where it needs to be.
Culture needs to be a key priority for any organisation, but it isn’t without its challenges.
The Asia Pacific region is one of our strongest growth areas, spread across Australia, China, Japan and South-East Asia. However, there are subtle differences in how an organisation goes about scaling in somewhere like Asia, compared to Boston or Silicon Valley. The challenge being the geographical difference and culture diversity across various regions. However, the recipe is still the same, hold onto the humble roots that built the organisation’s success in the first place.
1. Take the time so that it resonates
There is a challenge in explaining something when you are working across a breadth of cultures and countries and you must take the time and care to do that, and do it properly.
Having a set of values and ethos that an organisations lives by is essential. For example, we have five values that we stand by, these include: Teamwork, Customer First, Everyone Matters, Think Big and — probably the most unique one — Enjoy the Journey.
But If you were to say ‘think big’, everyone is going to have different interpretations for what that means. All values need to resonate with everyone or it’s not going to be effective. You must explain it in a way that your people can easily digest and understand, so it will have an impact.
What I have personally found, is that in order to do this successfully, you must be open with visiting execs when they are addressing an APJ team.
Sometimes these nuances are lost on them as they are not living and breathing the cultures every day. It’s not easy to tell your CEO or CFO “You need to slow down, or you need to express this in a different way,” but if you don’t then the message will lose all its meaning.
2. Let it live out locally
In today’s digital economy, flexibility and agility is key for any company. When implementing something new, whether it’s values or a new strategy, you need to allow your team the flexibility to localise the interpretation for both an internal and external audience. Let it live out slightly differently where culturally it makes sense to do so.
It’s important not to impose things just for the sake of it. While this can be difficult to implement, try not to deviate from what is successful on the ground locally. This can be from how sales teams are built to how you go to market. The conventional ‘cookie cutter approach’ to management that many large organisations take is no longer relevant and you should try to adapt and tailor approaches that work for each of your the local markets.
To enable something to ‘live out locally’ it’s also critical to hire leaders in relevant countries that have a good understanding of western culture, to play ‘interpreter’ for both the language and culture. This works both ways, to pick up on local cultural nuances, and to also ensure something is interpreted from corporate the way it was intended.
3. Attracting and keeping great talent
It’s also important to hire people that have a diverse way of thinking about things. A big priority for many organisations is to maintain its culture as it scales so as to continue to have a strong focus on the type of employee they hire. Many organisations want to employ go-getters who are intelligent, ambitious and vibrant, which ultimately makes up the lifeblood of their culture heartbeat and continuously raise the bar for the entire company.
Having a strong HR team can also make the world of difference. Encourage your people to get behind your company on social media — doing so enable you to create strong brand advocates. Doing this can instill excitement within the team and will help to bring in talented like-minded people from their networks.
You’ll want people that have a hunger to learn. When organisations grow at an exponential pace, there are skills that are used now, that in six months won’t be relevant. We all need to grow, and continue to build on our experience. And most importantly be excited to do so.
4. Keep communication personal and open
Being geographically spread out can be challenging so you might have to work harder to keep a team mentality going and to maintain strong links across different regions.
Frequent communication with the team by email and messaging apps like WhatsApp on both personal and professional milestones can keep everyone connected. Every week, I host a call an APJ call that each region attends. We cover important work updates, but we also take the time to have a laugh, so that we can keep the culture going and create an energy regardless of the distance.
Also as teams grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep those relationships personal. We have to work really hard to continue to keep an open culture. Everyone should feel comfortable to speak to anyone in their team, from their direct manager to the country manager, to the CEO.
The obvious issue here is managing to find the time to have one-on-one conversations with everyone – as the team grows – weekly calls with all you team members can turn into weekly WhatsApp messages. While I try to have contact with everyone, it has become harder to do so. The key is to ensure people know you always have time if they need you, and that everyone knows they can also reach out to you.
5. Build a culture of appreciation and reward
We spend so much of our lives at work with our colleagues, so it needs to be enjoyable. Life’s too short to drag your feet to work every day, or to not feel like you’re part of something big. Rewarding staff, from training to social outings and sales event hosting at interesting locations can help to build staff morale.
Growing the business quickly is a good thing but don’t forget to listen to and help employees do their jobs efficiently and effectively by giving them the resources and environment needed to help build the business. You certainly don’t want an employee to feel frustrated or limit company and professional success because of unnecessary roadblocks.
Original news is from e27.