Emphasizing the importance of culture as a company grows can be a cumbersome task for CFOs and business leaders. But when the business grows, the culture, governance, and ethics must grow as well.
What works for a company of 25 may not work for a company with 125 employees. CFOs need to be intentional about incorporating the cultural shift to coincide with the productivity and quality of the growth itself during the process. Leaders who have experienced major growth, especially those who have been a part of significant growth, witness this firsthand.
Here are five insights to consider as your company encounters these growth challenges.
1. Combine Legacy Talent With New Perspectives
In a recent post on LinkedIn, Barstool Sports CEO Erica Ayers was asked about maintaining and shifting organizational culture in correlation with growth. Ayers said this is one of her most difficult tasks as the head of Barstool Sports, which has experienced tremendous growth in recent years.
“I sometimes wish it was the old school days at Barstool, I wish that a lot,” said Ayers. “I think sometimes you get to this moment where there needs to be a new culture that’s a blend of where you come from with a lot of ingredients about where you want to go to. In our case, we're trying to blend the inputs and ideas of and perspectives of the new people, while also embracing what made the old people here, or the people who have been here for a while, really special and really successful.”
2. Define your Non-Negotiables in New Leadership
Not only is bringing on a new executive from the outside a difficult task, but many CFOs noted at recent events how, at one point, they were simultaneously a leader and a newbie at their company.
As growing companies look to bring on new leaders, propper vetting of character should take place. If a person doesn’t jive with the existing culture or wishes to dismantle processes without consideration of the opinions of those who will be most impacted, these red flags should cause reconsideration.
By using clear and transparent culture to define the implementation of power, new leaders who are brought into the company can manage existing employees successfully while making them feel productive and involved in the process. This will aid in avoiding power struggles and dips in employee morale down the line.
3. Give Employees Autonomy
As organizations grow, workloads increase. Rather than just expecting employees to do more work in the same amount of time, leaders may look to granting autonomy. Avoiding redundant meetings, not enforcing hard starts and stops to the workday, and allowing people to ultimately work at their own pace, can allow employees to take on more work while also feeling like they have more free time.
Rather than piling on more work with a guideline on how to do it, leaders may rely on lower-level leadership in place to determine how to best handle this new work among themselves. Giving managers and their employees the autonomy to organize increasing workloads can help avoid employee frustration, subsequently putting leaders in a position to retain employees whose demands increase.
4. Prioritize Transparency and Collaboration in Technology Plans
In the rush to automate, especially in accounting and finance, employees may be looking over their shoulders nervously awaiting when their company purchases technology that can do what they do. Companies who wish to combat this technology paranoia among their employees should include them in the process.
By asking employees where they believe technology can assist them most, giving them the encouragement and resources to embrace new technologies, and keeping them in the loop on leadership’s consensus around technology, employees who fall into the “digital talent” category can be identified by organizations.
5. Don’t Forget Your Digital Helmet
Most people wouldn’t drive a motorcycle without a helmet. Leaders should look at growing companies and their data security with the same regard. If the motorcycle’s speed is the company’s trajectory and growth, the quality of their helmet is their level of sound cybersecurity measures.
“Phishing attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and can be difficult to recognize, making this an effective form of cybercrime,” said Nathan Jenniges, vice president of products in cybersecurity at the former cell phone manufacturer turned cybersecurity company during an interview with CFO in April. “Cybercriminals create cleverly designed emails that appear from legitimate sources and contain believable messages.”
“In this digital world, nothing is certain except death and taxes — and cyberattacks,” he said.
These types of initiatives should no longer be categorized as insurance, but as some of the most important factors in an organization’s ability to sustain growth. A company that is outpacing its ability to protect its own data is a scammer’s dream. Without efforts and secure principles in data integrity and cybersecurity, leaders put all their growth efforts and achievements at the mercy of anonymous and sophisticated bad actors.