How to Create and Maintain the Culture of Your Organization as You Grow
By Simma Lieberman
Many organizations start out with exciting ideas and concepts, but as they grow they lose the culture that made them successful. Other businesses manage to continue growing and keep the culture they created. What separates one type of organization from the other?
One of the key factors to keep business culture is to define the culture you want to create from the beginning, and integrate it into how you hire people, how you treat employees, the type of customer service you provide, and the general environment of your organization.
As you grow it is important to integrate old employees who understand your values, concepts, and culture with the newer employees who will learn to implement them and bring some of their own culture.
Brian Gavin is a managing partner of Roys' Restaurants, which has 19 properties in Hawaii, Tokyo, New York, California, Colorado and Washington and serves Euro-Asian cuisine. When they open new restaurants they have old employees train new ones. He said,
"We have long range retention in our organization because we hire and grow from within. We define our culture as serving creative bold flavors from Asia cooked in a European style. We develop a sense of family, and have what we call Aloha customer service; professional and technically correct, but very friendly. Ever since Roy Yamaguchi opened the first
restaurant in Hawaii, we have made a conscious effort to maintain our culture." By growing from within, many employees have gotten to experience working in different positions, and have helped to create the culture at Roy's. As they move up and to different properties they bring those values and ways of working with them. Roy's has a strong training culture.
To ensure a culture that lasts through growth and change, organizations in all industries should take the following steps:
- Define the culture and how it is different from other concepts.
- Develop a strategic plan for implementing that culture.
- Senior management must implement that culture in all they do including: hiring, compensation, rewards and incentives, creating the environment, and marketing.
- Make sure employees at all levels know what the culture is and that they buy into it.
- Have seasoned employees train new employees and develop a system where new employees learn the written and unwritten parameters of the culture.
- Constantly evaluate progress and success as you grow.
- Be open to change and inform employees and customers of any changes and how they will benefit.
Simma Lieberman works with people and organizations to create environments where people can do their best work. She specializes in diversity, gender communications, life-work balance and stress, and acquiring and retaining new customers.
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