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The secret to thinking small when you’re getting big

As business leaders we are always told to “think big.” Innovation and grand ideas are seen as assets when it comes to leaders of a business or employees in that business. But there is one area where you don’t always want to think big. And that is in your culture.

As your business begins to grow it’s important to hold onto the original business values that made you want to start a business in the first place. Whether it’s solving a particular problem or creating an exciting new product, surrounding yourself with people who have the same goal as you will benefit your business in more ways than one.

From hiring our first staff member 12 years ago to managing 50+ staff across Australia and the UK we’ve worked hard to maintain the culture of a happy, welcoming and high performing business. Here’s how.

Begin from the top down

The recruiting process is the most important part of getting your workplace culture right, and it comes from the top down. If you hire managers who can best carry on your cultural vision then they will invest in team leaders and employees who will also live in that culture.

We have a “no jerks” policy when it comes to hiring, and this affects the whole team with a designed culture. Even if it means forgoing an absolute star performer, we will not sacrifice our culture for any quick wins a star recruit could bring.

We also make sure that team members hold themselves and their peers to the high cultural standards we have. If there is an act that doesn’t represent our culture, we’ll call it out, immediately. And people get it, everyone must be ferociously protective of the culture. The moment we become lax on this then team members will not enjoy work and that will quickly translate to lower performance, higher staff turnover and a worse experience for our clients and customers.

Keep celebrating success

Sometimes when you grow a business you start to stop celebrating the small things and the small successes that you had at the beginning are no longer seen as a success rather than a regular part of the job.

Just because an individual success might not be seen as a company success doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deserve to be celebrated. So make sure that you keep celebrating all things, big and small.

Here we celebrate individual successes in all departments across the business applauding anyone who has hit their KPI’s or offered something particularly valuable to the businesses. These are celebrated publically at a fortnightly drinks session for our staff on a Friday where we not only talk about how the business is going, but also encourage all of our departments to mingle.

We also make departmental morning standups a part of our routine. Here we spend one minute per team member asking these three questions; what did you achieve yesterday, what are you going to achieve today and do you have any roadblocks. This usually brings out worthy achievements to celebrate on a daily basis within the team.

Engage with your staff

The more you take on as a CEO the harder it can be to focus on that one-on-one time with your staff, which means that you become even less approachable. If you have a solid team working with you on your business then they can essentially run that business for you and you can step back into the role of servant leader.

I moved out of my office into our communal space so that I could make sure I was closer to my staff and more approachable when they need my help. Make sure that you are still letting your staff know that you are available for meetings, chats at lunch, or even the odd table tennis match.

Keeping in touch with your staff and having at least one really detailed conversation with each of them a year can make all the difference. I find that if I can assist my staff to uncover a life goal and help them work towards this, then we are all running in the same direction. I like to have these one on one’s the week before Christmas which allows us to hit the new year refreshed and knowing that we’re all heading towards the same purpose.

If you find that you are becoming too busy for that team time then see what you can delegate or designate a time of the month to catch up with each division in your workplace. Because you can’t build a business on your own. It’s about growing together.

Matt Butterworth is the CEO and Co-Founder of wedding directory and marketplace Easy Weddings. He works closely with the Australian wedding industry to make sure Aussie small businesses get a fair go. He also makes sure that he’s hands-on within the business, growing traffic, working with staff and improving the experience of customers.

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Matt Butterworth

Matt Butterworth

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