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There’s an interesting assumption that it’s harder to have a great company culture in a large company and recently I was asked, if you’re a small company going through fast growth

– how do you  maintain that warm familial feeling and not become cold and “corporate”?  So here are  some things to think about:

1)      That warm fuzzy “we’re a family” feeling can easily become dysfunctional in a heartbeat no matter how big you are.  As the leader of your company – you do not want to be poised as the mother/father with the siblings fighting for your approval/attention.  And avoid at all costs of thinking of your employees as children – it’s debilitating and demeaning to them and an entrapping  train wreck for you.

2)      At the core of that small company warm feeling of goodness are aspects that with consistent intention and attention can be replicated in a larger company:

  • Everyone plays an important role that’s critical to the success of the company
  • And thus everyone is accountable for their piece
  • You have each other’s backs and support one another in times of pressure
  • You’re all in alignment – clear on the vision being achieved and the path to get there
  • Everyone shares in the successes and the failures
  • Appreciation is spoken often
  • There are often opportunities to improve, innovate, be challenged and stretched
  • Employees’ opinions, input and expertise are sought out when considering new options
  • Excitement for what’s being created is in the air

3)      Often it’s “policies and procedures” that feel like the tipping point.  Yet this doesn’t make a larger company cold.  Rather they are the guiding principles and boundaries that create clarity and efficiency, allowing a company to focus on what’s important instead of trying to manage one-off situations.  When done thoughtfully, these policies and procedures and their language can reflect a warm, close culture.

4)      One thing a small company has that most large companies struggle to match culture-wise is flexibility and nimbleness.  Yet large companies have the advantage of a more stable, consistent culture (hopefully one they love) that if someone comes in and they are not a fit, they will either adapt to the culture that’s in place or leave.  The company is unlikely to accommodate the individual – and that can be a good thing.  Do you remember as a smaller organization how you would try and mold yourself to accommodate the *one* – THE employee who was supposed to take your company to the next level, but whose attitude and way of being simply did not match your culture? Lesson learned.  Choose your culture and choose individuals that generate it.

5)      So the assumption is off – it’s not that it’s more difficult to have a great company culture when you’re a larger company, it’s that if you have a culture that needs adjusting it just requires a bit more time and energy to turn a freightliner than a small boat.

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2.6 min readLast Updated: April 6th, 2021Published On: May 9th, 2012Categories: Organizational Development, Organizational Development ProcessTags:

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