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How to retain culture as you grow



The thing we love most about a coffee and a conversation is that you simply never know where it might lead...
In June, we were asked to team up with an award-winning communications agency, Home for their big breakfast event as part of Social Media Week Bristol. "Why not?!" we said.

As we hung out over coffee planning the event, we got talking about culture and growth and community. How being part of a growing cafe or restaurant business is so, so, exciting; but that the bigger you get the more difficult it is to preserve the essence of what makes your business a wonderful and unique place to be.

As it happened, culture and communications are Home's speciality. So, what started as a few steaming pots of perfectly brewed coffee, morphed into some amazing insights from Home about what it takes to retain culture in your business as you grow and some top tips for all the food & drink businesses out there on this incredible journey right now.

So grab yourself a coffee, and give yourself a few minutes to read Fiona from Home's incredible advice and insight below. 👊

In a small business, culture seeps out from every pore. It’s that spark of personality from the top that brings like-minded people on the journey with you in the first place, and it’s something you’re desperate to keep.

For many business owners, this causes concern. Suddenly your cute and cuddly kitten has evolved into a sharp-toothed jaguar – but the good news is, it’s still a cat. The core of your personality and culture still remain at the heart. And once an organisation has uncovered those commonalities, it’s a simple case of articulating it and letting the good times roll.

At Home, we are employee engagement experts and we see this issue crop up all the time. You’ll be pleased to know there are a couple of easy fixes that you can put into place to keep your culture strong – and it’s never too soon to do it.

Just a few ideas!

KNOW WHO YOU ARE – AND WRITE IT DOWN

Sounds obvious, and yet many smaller businesses don’t do this – because it doesn’t feel necessary until it’s too late. Knowing what you stand for and having a purpose is a unifying force. But be specific. Stand for something, not for everything, and make it something your team can get behind. This will permeate the business, big or small, and help potential employees and customers to understand what you’re all about.

USE YOUR STORY

All businesses started somewhere – often with just a person and a good idea. Build your founder story and make it company folklore, so that even as the business grows, its heart and soul stays strong. Understanding how a business came to be is a key part of building a connection and knowing the journey your colleagues have been on. It’s something to be proud of – and there’s something very powerful about that.

SHOUT WHEN PEOPLE GET IT RIGHT

Cultures can’t just be words on a wall. Cultures are about the way people behave on a day to day basis. We’re firm believers that recognition is a crucial part of the culture checklist. By recognising the people who are getting it right, culture breeds, employees know what good looks like and people feel good. Win, win, win.

MAKE IT A PRIORITY

It’s easy to let your culture activities slide, but we find it works best when you make it a priority so it’s always on the table. When setting your annual strategic plans, try and include one which relates to culture in some way, shape or form. It sets a clear intention that your people and your culture matters – and helps you to track and deliver progress.

HIRE INTO YOUR CULTURE

Again, sounds obvious, but if you want to keep your culture strong, you need to recruit the people who best fit that mould. By going in a different direction, you risk diluting who you are. That’s not to say your workforce shouldn’t be diverse – it should, but decide what your defining values and qualities are, and look for people who share those with you.

THINK – AND ACT – DIFFERENTLY

Try to keep what makes you, you. Just because it works for someone else, it might not work for you. Try to avoid the temptation to copycat. Instead, ask your people what they want from your culture, and look at ways to incorporate it. Spending that time to find out what’s valuable to them will work wonders.

THINGS’S CHANGE.

YOUR CULTURE WILL TOO.

THAT’S HEALTHY.

Don’t forget, your culture needs room to flex and evolve in a way that still feels like you.

So check in regularly – things change, and your culture will too. That’s healthy.

We’re hugely passionate about the little things that make a big difference to your employee experience, so if you think you’d benefit from a little help from Home, get in touch. We’d be happy to host you over a hot cup of Extract coffee.

Cheers Home

Massive thanks to Fiona from Home for all your time. Never underestimate the power of coffee, conversation and community.
Keep loving the brew my friends.

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