Scaling company culture during rapid growth
I was invited several months ago to speak at a Conscious Capitalism event. A very cool and relatively new organization focused on sharing best practices for businesses looking to balance profit while giving back to the community — something we at PERQ are all about! The talk was around PERQ’s culture and what we are doing to ensure that we keep true to our core values while the business grows quickly.
For those who don’t know much about PERQ, we are a marketing technology company focused on consumer engagement. Our Online Guided Shopping technology uses Artificial Intelligence to increase website conversion by empowering consumers and guiding them through their buying journey for B2C businesses selling complex and expensive goods/services.
Over the past 18 months, we have grown our team 50 percent from 77 to 115, and our team will only continue to grow in 2019. With our growth comes fun challenges to solve. Scaling our culture is a top priority, including making sure there is consistent communication with employees, making sure all employees receive the necessary onboarding to understand our company and technology, and making sure we help those new employees quickly feel welcome and integrated into our culture.
Our core values consist of smart growth, commitment to our community, creating a culture of innovation with a game-on attitude, while delivering the most value to our clients.
This poses the question: how do you not lose the core of your culture while being open to talents and ideas from new hires to make the culture stronger?
For us, it starts with outlining three very specific duties that the company owes every single employee:
Create a compelling and engaging mission.
Our mission is to create meaningful engagement between consumers and brands. This serves as our singular purpose, and every day we reach toward this never-ending north star.
We break this out into a measurable goal annually so that we can see our progress. This annual goal serves as our ‘Super Bowl’ and is meant to make sure that everyone in the organization is working toward the exact same target.
How do we do this? Every January, we have an hour-long strategy meeting for five days straight with all employees. Yes, we could squeeze it into one day, but when is the last time you remembered everything from a 5-hour meeting? It’s important to break down our goal and let every team member understand their part. We build excitement for the year because every employee truly does have a role in the game of PERQ.
Our mission and goal is also at the forefront of our monthly hour-long recap meeting with employees to discuss the previous month, where we stand for the quarter and year. New employees get welcomed and invited to step on stage, and we let them know we’ve got their back.
In those meetings, there are times when we’re surpassing our goal, times we’re falling behind or just doing OK, but I remind all employees what is possible and what we can achieve together as a culture. We high five each other when we’re meeting our goals, and inspire and motivate each other when we need to get back into the game.
Make sure employees’ daily actions tie directly back to your annual goal (which tie to the mission).
The annual goal is a big number that can be daunting, with questions like: Is this goal too big for me or my team to make an impact? To curb these fears, we break it down to a department and then individual level ensuring that everyone in the organization knows what they do every single day matters… because it does.
For sales, it’s easy to understand their contribution — sales! What about other departments where the value they bring may not be as easily seen, like implementation?
Every quarter our implementation team focuses on a time-to-value goal to get our customers up and running efficiently. This ties directly to our annual net revenue goal. Basically, the team makes sure our software is live on our clients’ websites and working as it should be on time, and that our client requests are taken care of in a timely manner as well.
The team meets together every two weeks, while managers have one-on-one meetings with each employee to discuss their goal and identify trends with client requests. During the holidays, for example, we get a lot of client requests to change out special offers in our software, and we make sure we have enough team members to manage those requests. We measure our implementation goals with quality metrics and look at how effectively and efficiently we help our customers.
Make a promise to hire talented, like-minded individuals.
Smart people like being surrounded by other smart people who are focused on accomplishing goals together. We work hard to ensure that the people we hire at PERQ fit this mold. Working with other goal-oriented people creates fun, and it also serves PERQ’s needs to continue filling new positions that are opening up. Let’s use Kristy as an example.
We concentrate on growing our team from within. Kristy started in January of 2017 as an inbound marketing manager. Her manager, Muhammad, worked with her to set up goals that aligned with the company and marketing team’s goals. He learned, during their regular one-on-one meetings, the career path she was interested in taking, including becoming Director of Marketing by 2019. Together they set annual and quarterly plans, and by February of 2018, Kristy earned a much deserved promotion to senior marketing manager, followed soon thereafter by a promotion to Director of Content Marketing and Brand in November of 2018. Her dedication to perfecting her craft, challenging those she worked with, and driving the success of PERQ were an undeniable reflection of the core values of PERQ.
The three focus areas I mention above encourage a culture of focused and talented individuals who are crystal clear in their daily responsibility to themselves and their teammates as we work to hit big goals.
When you create a culture full of competitive and driven people all working toward the same goal, you can scale and create a culture of fun. Fun isn’t the primary goal, but it’s the end result when you are all working toward the same goal and winning!
Reach out to Andy with any questions on Twitter.