By: Jill Butler, CEO RedKey Realty Leaders
Growing pains are a bitter-sweet reality that every successful business faces. Specifically, growth presents challenges and opportunities for organizations in the area of corporate culture. I can tell you firsthand that it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of expansion and lose sight of why your business was founded in the first place.
Your unique company culture is likely one of the main reasons you’re experiencing growth—so it’s imperative to maintain your vision and mission as you expand. A recent study from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business revealed that the majority of executives not only say corporate culture drives profitability, but that an effective corporate culture is essential for a company to thrive in the modern business world.
So how do you stay true to your core mission during times of extreme expansion? How do you ensure the corporate culture you’ve worked so hard to build extends to new locations and is communicated to new employees? Like all organizations, we struggled with these salient questions. Below are the four ways RedKey Realty Leaders St. Louis has been able to grow rapidly while also preserving our company’s innovative culture.
Rely on your core philosophy
One of the most helpful ways to preserve culture is to frequently remind yourself why your company was originally founded. What differentiates you from everyone else in your industry? The answer to that question is probably your core philosophy. It’s the foundation of your business, and it must be agreed upon and engrained in the business model in order to create a lasting culture. RedKey, for example, was founded on the basis of love, service, and fun. Our leadership team continually referenced those core values during our rapid growth phase, and that core philosophy continues to be the basis of every decision we make. Having a strong company philosophy helps you to refocus and stay on track. It also helps to guide your team through growth and maintain the corporate culture that got you there.
It’s important that every employee understands the mission and values of any company. That’s why a key characteristic of a strong company culture is effective communication. When leadership makes it a priority to consistently communicate the organization’s philosophy, internal processes inherently run more smoothly and goodwill is generated. RedKey holds weekly sales meetings—no matter how busy we are. Through these meetings, we’re able to ensure that all agents are behind both immediate and futuristic goals for the company. We also facilitate internal communications through regular email newsletters. And, we have an advisory leadership board made up entirely of agents.
Hire for Cultural Fit
Growing with the right people who have the right philosophy is fundamental. This can be difficult during times of rapid growth when new hires are needed quickly. A Columbia University study shows that the probability of job turnover at an organization with high company culture is just 13.9 percent, whereas the likelihood of job turnover in low company cultures is 48.4 percent. Turnover is expensive—and can significantly affect the performance of an organization. Taking the time to hire the right people will save you headaches—and money. For example, at RedKey, we are careful that each person we bring on board is committed to providing the best service possible to their clients. When hiring, we often ask ourselves, “would I want to sit next to this person on a cross-country flight?” If the answer is no, they probably aren’t a good fit.
Make it a priority
During rapid expansion, managers and CEOs tend to feel the brunt of growing pains. When you’re on deadline for signing leases and deciding who will fill the new office, culture seems like the last thing you should worry about. So how do you make it a priority when there are dozens of other important tasks competing for your attention? RedKey’s leadership was able to tackle this by simply being mindful of the fact that it would impact our success. In order to focus on preserving culture, we determined which tasks had the biggest impact on growth, took ownership of those, and delegated everything else. Through collaboration and delegation, we were not only able to more clearly define job roles, but also ensure that every team member remained on board with the company’s vision and next steps.
Undoubtedly, corporate culture is a big piece of why you’re growing and an essential element of continued growth. Make sure it doesn’t get lost on the sidelines by continually referring to its origins. Ensure veteran and new team members are on the same page and continue to prioritize and share your cultural foundations. That way, corporate culture will continue to be a competitive advantage as you expand–and you’ll still like working at the company you founded.
After holding executive and team leader positions at high-profile real estate agencies, in 2012, Jill Butler founded RedKey Realty Leaders St. Louis— an independent real estate agency created on a foundation of love, service, and fun. Jill was named 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by the state of Missouri and St. Louis Chapters of the Women’s Council of Realtors. She has held an Officer position for the Women’s Council of Realtor’s, and serves on the St. Louis Association of Realtors Board of Directors. Jill is regularly sought after for her opinions on fluctuating real estate market and trends. For more, www.redkeystlouis.com or 314-692-7200.