The development of healthy company culture is paramount to the success of an organisation. And the knock-on positive effect of building trust, transparency and tolerance amongst workers culminates in widespread connection, innovation and productivity.
Typically, in hypergrowth companies, the speed at which they exist can overshadow the focus on culture; when the pace is so frenetic, the last thing most people think about is the attitude and behaviour of its people. It’s more about getting the job done and less about what goes on in the interactions and mutual values of leaders and their teams.
A recent report from Korn Ferry found that 71% of professionals say they would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company that aligns more with their values. Untapped AI’s insights also revealed that two-thirds of employees’ values are now misaligned with their company’s values.
Arianna Huffington wrote for Thrive: Why The Away Story Is A Wake Up Call For Every Business Leader. She talks about how the luggage company Away ignored a toxic culture of messaging staff at 3 am and bullying them into working unsustainable hours. “Call it the hypergrowth-to-burnout pipeline. Again and again, we see promising, disruptive companies rocketing to success, but powered by a workplace culture that drives people into the ground.” It was only when social media picked up on the story and customers started leaving that the backlash instigated the removal and replacement of their CEO.
Huffington also states, “All employees are brand ambassadors”. If loyalty and belief in a business are not systemic, people either work resentfully in isolation, contaminate with negativity or ultimately move on.
What will help
In hypergrowths, the erosion of culture weakens the cumulative potency of success. Things may be okay for a period of time but a sustainable culture is what feeds growth. At Untapped.AI we focus on Networked Coaching. Using our EMCC globally accredited methodology and digital platform powered by Self Awareness AI, we can increase the capability of the individual while also accelerating the growth of a company’s culture using aggregated organisational data.
It’s important to remember that while hypergrowths might feel like a sprint, they need to evolve into a marathon for survival. A Harvard Business School report: 3 Consequences of Hypergrowth & How to Prepare looked at what happens when Culture Begins To Dilute & Decay. The author talks about the rapid growth of Careem, a ride-hailing service in the Middle East. As the business expanded so did the head count, and with it came many problems. “As you hire rapidly, new hires learn culture from other recently hired staff who may not have had time to learn how things work at your company. Instead, they transmit values they learned in previous roles and that might not align with your culture,” says Mudassir Sheikha, CEO. Experience taught Sheikha that the values of the business had to come from the top, namely himself, and filtering down a universal way of thinking involved time, commitment and patience - but the process was crucial, especially at the recruitment stage. He recognised that hiring for skills is a short-term solution; cultural alignment and a potential employee’s investment in the company’s mission is the key to success.
The power of unified thought and behaviour also builds confidence, trust and innovation. BBC newsreader, George Alagiah, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2014, which later spread to his liver, lungs and lymph nodes. In a recent interview, he endorsed the need for people to join forces to achieve great things: “What is it we can do together?” he asked. There is strength in the collective. Growth may be reflected in profit and profile but it’s a collaborative culture that will see organisations thriving decades down the line.