106 Communications

6th Sense

Cultivating change: the importance of culture in a growing business.

October 2014 | Collaboration, Employer Brand

Last week I was lucky enough to spend two days holed up in the Brecon Beacons with the amazing bunch of people who are Jamie’s Farm.

This growing charity provides ‘transformative’ experiences to inner city children at risk of exclusion from school with residential stays on their working farm. Their unique offering of family, farming and therapy has a remarkable effect – 59% of children who stay on the farm them are no longer at risk of exclusion six weeks later.  This success means Jamie’s Farm can now increase the number of farms they own from one to five over the next five years.

This is a busy team. It would be easy for them to rush headlong into this growth period, simply by continuing to do what they do now. Why fix what isn’t broken? This happens often when businesses grow fast. It’s easy to get sidetracked by immediate growth without putting in place the bedrock which can secure engagement amongst colleagues down the line.

Jamie and his team know how important it will be for them to maintain their family culture as they bring new people into the team. So we helped to plan and deliver a series of group exercises designed to get the team thinking about this special culture and why it works; and to plan ways in which to maintain it over the next few years. The outcome was a charter based around five core values, with every member of the team committing to build those values into their every day duties.

I have no doubt that this amazing group of people will continue to inspire us as they help disenfranchised children over the next few years. But I have greater confidence in their success knowing Jamie and his team are dedicated to nurturing and maintaining their culture as they grow. By pausing to reflect on culture and values at this early stage of their development, they have saved headaches down the line. All growing businesses could benefit from this approach.

1) Your people are key to your growth. Take time to think about their qualities and how to replicate these as you grow.

2) Be realistic about your culture. Is it effective? Now’s the time to implement change before it’s too late.

3) Seek to develop a ‘culture mandate’ – promises which ensure culture remains central as you grow.

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