6 Brilliant Ways to Build Culture in Times of Fast Growth
Finding brilliant ways to build culture in times of fast growth can be as simple as looking to gardening for a metaphor.
At the moment, I am getting my veggie garden ready for spring. And this year I am learning from my mistakes. Last year we had such a fantastic growing season, lots of sunshine followed by lots of rain, and with all that my garden should have been pumping. Instead, I had a lot of fast-growing plants, but they didn’t bear much fruit. I was lucky to get 15 tomatoes from my four tomato plants.
I also grew lots and lots of weeds. And what did I do wrong? It was more about what I didn’t do, I planted, and then I walked away. I didn’t build up the soil, and I just assumed that it had what it needed from what I had done in past years. And I found out too late that I had let the soil lose its nutrients.
And I see this same thing happening in businesses and organisations too.
The times when you are growing fast, it is exciting. Conditions prime you to grow quickly and get out there and make wonderful things happen. There is plenty of rain, and plenty of sun, money and demand for what you do is flowing in. And how do you make sure that you keep growing juicy fruit? You need to look after your people, nurture and nourish them as you grow.
Let’s look at how you can build a rich workplace culture even when you are growing fast. And please bear with my garden metaphor, it has lots to share on the subject.
Here are six brilliant ways to build culture in times of fast growth.
1. Soil analysis.
The first thing I needed to do in my garden is to see what is happening with my soil. Just as seeing what is happening with your team is crucial. This can be as simple as having curious conversations or as in-depth as collecting experience data. The big thing here is to keep asking the question “what kind of experience is it to work here?’
2. Soil Building.
Just as I need to build up my soil with compost, manure and so on, you also need to build up your team. When you are busy, and things are moving fast, upskilling your team, nurturing their ideas and dreams and giving them positive feedback and praise might seem like something you don’t have time for. But it is essential for building up your team.
3. Growth needs.
For different crops, I need a different balance of nutrients or ph balance in the soil, based on what I want to grow, and I need to build up the soil to match. This is same in your team. Getting super clear on what outcomes, as well as the vision and values that you want from your team, is critical, and then adding into the mix the people, skills and support that will best help them to be successful.
4. Bring in help to build culture.
This year I looked at the garden and thought to myself, ‘I need help’. So I brought in some chooks. They have been weeding, fertilising and generally getting it all ready for the spring planting. You can do the same thing with your team. If you think they need something more to support them, to work through stress, conflict and other weeds, bring in the help that you need.
5. Companion planting.
When I am planting out my garden, I put plants that grow well together. Like tomatoes and basil, or beans and corn. It helps both plants to grow better and keep away the pests.
Think about your team, are their teams, people or departments that complement each other and could benefit by working together, even if just co-working side by side. And at the same time, some plants don’t grow well together like tomatoes and peas, and there are people, teams and tasks that don’t work well together. Find ways to give space to those areas of your team and business.
6. Planting – spacing and schedule.
I must admit, I tend to plant way too much in my garden. I get inspired by all the things that I can grow, but I don’t always leave enough room for each plant, and often they take over the paths. The same thing can happen to your team. Making sure each task has enough space to grow and scheduling the jobs that don’t fit now so they can be picked up when there is space can take the pressure of the culture of the team.
The biggest thing to remember is if I don’t look after my soil, then my garden won’t thrive. Just as if you don’t nurture your team, your fast growth wants to give the fruit that it could.
So make sure that you are aware of and building up the richness of your team’s experience, you are seeking how to skill up your team and bring in help when you need it as well as creating an agile and well-planned working environment for your people. From there, you can grow sustainably.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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