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5 Impactful Ways to Scale Culture

By Ashley Liggins | January 26, 2022

We’re in the midst of a transitional time—not just because of the systemic changes that have been brought on by COVID. Advisory businesses are currently experiencing growth rates that would have been considered ‘wildly optimistic’ just a few years ago. Your team is growing. You’ve institutionalized many key processes and procedures. The firm’s P&L, revenue and other key financial metrics are all trending up. What better time to scale your business?

But how do you assess and measure the impact of scaling up on the culture of your organization? It’s not one of those metrics that can be easily measured. Yet it just may be the most critical driver of the business’ health and stability. When building an enduring firm, your culture can reinforce your vision and mission (leading to productive and satisfied employees). Unstructured and ungoverned, however, it can breed dissatisfaction, increase attrition and erode trust. 

Here are five impactful ways to ensure that—as your business experiences healthy growth—your firm culture does as well. 

  1. Share the vision: Your firm’s vision is your noble purpose. So you can’t be the only person who understands that vision. From the moment a team member joins the firm, your vision needs to be shared broadly and frequently. Create internal communication plans specifically addressing the firm’s progress towards the vision, and make your team an integral part of conveying that vision to others as they onboard and integrate.

  2. Define and live by your values: Every successful firm has a set of guiding principles that drive business and help define the vision and mission of the firm to clients and employees. It’s imperative while scaling culture to not only define those values to employees, but to also embody them as the owner of the business and weave them into the fabric of the firm culture. Every interaction internally or externally should reflect your firm values, and as your firm grows, those values should be consistently reinforced.

  3. Cultivate authenticity: Leaders who are open and honest with their employees and engage in thoughtful conversation create a culture of authenticity within their firm. Authentic relationship building internally leads to more authentic interactions with clients, which in turn leads to happier (i.e., a larger share of wallet) and more loyal clients. Beyond relationships, authenticity leads to better problem solving, team synergy and job satisfaction. By allowing your team members to bring their most authentic selves to work, you create a psychologically safe environment and build greater interdependence.

  4. Identify your cultural ambassadors: Similar to change agents, there will be those in your organization who naturally exude firm values and hold themselves out as cultural ambassadors. They believe passionately in both the business’ noble purpose as well as their role in accomplishing it. Identify those individuals and not only recognize them (in whatever manner they prefer) but also provide them with leadership opportunities to champion the culture through events or project-based initiatives. 

  5. Formally measure culture: In scaling culture, seeking feedback is key to measuring the success of your initiatives. Annual employee engagement surveys not only solicit valuable feedback, they provide an opportunity for team members to have a voice in the direction of the firm. Use these tools as a way to take stock of your progress and include key learnings in your year-end ‘state of the union’ with your team. Provide actionable steps based on the feedback, and create accountability by appointing your cultural ambassadors as leads in the efforts. The goal is to get everyone involved in moving the needle on firm culture. 

Scaling culture can feel daunting, especially on a long list of other scaling efforts. However, the culture of the firm will deeply impact your team’s growth, performance and satisfaction—so make sure it’s a consistent component of your ongoing business strategy efforts. 


Coaching Questions

  1. How do your on-boarding and new hire processes currently incorporate and illuminate firm culture?
  2. How does your client onboarding process currently incorporate and illuminate firm culture?
  3. What are the unwritten rules of your firm? Hint: these are also a part of firm culture.
  4. What does your ideal firm culture look like?

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Topics: Team Engagement Enduring Firm Culture

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