In the video below Jules Hopkinson co-founder of MVF, one of the UK/US’s fastest growing tech companies, talks about his experience with scaling company culture. Jules has experience with scaling culture as MVF has grown from around 145 people in London to over 350 – including a new office in Austin, TX – in a little under 3 years.
For Jules, company culture is really important because it is a reflection of the people in the business. These are the people that spot opportunities – the people that are constantly looking for ways to add value to your business and it’s customers.
Instilling company culture into all newcomers is important for longevity and for the culture to thrive if your business’ founders and early employees ever decide to move on.
Set your values high
Scaling culture comes down to having an agreed set of values. Having the right values defines your culture, so that as you scale you know what it is you're looking for in new people.
Culture is so much about people and character, so when you are recruiting spend more time screening for character than for skill. While skills can be learned, it is much harder to cultivate attitude and character. This practice, known as “hire for attitude and train for skill,” was pioneered by Southwest Airlines about 40 years ago.
Once you’ve hired the best people, treat them right! The best long-term retention strategy is to mentor people toward meaningful roles.
Give your People Purpose
Jules has observed some important principles for building and scaling a culture that can live beyond a set of founders to become a lasting institution.
The company must start with purpose, so from the outset you need to understand the cause behind your brand and “why” your company is focusing on what it is doing. This is about mission, not marketing. What calling does your business serve? This should feel authentic and aspirational.
Leaders must reflect the firm’s values and standards, thus leading by example. They must be the strongest representations of the firm’s culture and purpose, not just writing or memorising the mission statement, but rather adopting and exemplifying what the company stands for.
Define Your Culture
For culture to become scalable a company must define common language, values, and standards. Great cultures need a common language that allow people to actually understand each other and ensure they are on the same page.
Then must come a common set of values, which are the evergreen principles of the firm, and a common set of standards by which a business will measure how they’re upholding those principles.
A cohesive culture that can scale as your business grows will happen only when you have common language, common values, and common standards.