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leadership lab

Business operations co-ordinator, TrackTik

In an organization with a healthy culture, employees are motivated by the success of their teammates and the company at large. Morale is kept high by a mutual meeting of expectations and goals. In this sense, every hire is a signal to a company’s core values and goals. And every employee’s ideals and ethics has the capacity to shape the culture and values.

As a new business starts to focus on rapid growth, things such as workplace culture and identity can get lost in the fray. In fact, any period of growth is an easy time to lose sight of these important elements. Deadlines loom, stakeholders are watching and the bottom line needs to be justified: You can see how priorities become hard to juggle.

I’ve been lucky to be a part of an organization that has achieved success in a short time. Through all of this, our core identity has endured and evolved. The key has been keeping both leadership and employees engaged in the process.

Workplace culture isn’t monolithic

Company culture is created by those who experience and operate within it. It is important for an organization to steer away from forcefully imposing a cultural ideal. This limits employee capacity to shape interactions and meaningful behaviours in ways that are relevant to them.

There are ways to foster a workplace culture that are organic and let employees feel a part of the process. In my current role, I see how we foster engagement by constantly and consistently encouraging feedback from team members. Topics range from social initiatives to human policy. “Innovation teams” gather monthly to present fresh ideas and improvements to existing policy. The result? A thriving and positive culture within the workspace.

Scaling without losing identity

Sometimes, rapid growth means that businesses may need to change the way they do things. You’ll need to figure out how to scale up without compromising on employee individuality. This means finding the balance between defining role-based responsibilities and the standardization of practices − without making employees feel stifled. Otherwise, an open and organic culture can begin to feel like a corporate “meat grinder.” High turnover rates may reflect this, which is a challenge for many businesses in their scale-up phase.

Think about automating the mundane or menial tasks of your operation to free up more time for your staff to engage in meaningful ways. This allows employees to engage and interact outside their departments and avoid “siloing” of information and processes. Instead of spending time with their heads down, feverishly working on highly specialized tasks, employees will have the motivation, and time, to interact interdepartmentally and exchange and implement new process ideas and suggestions.

I’ve seen the positive results this outlook creates. The healthy, steady flow of feedback from our front-line staff helps position our company with clients as a strategic partner. Departments aren’t hyper-focused on specific areas of production or service, facilitating collaboration. The contributions our people make to the vision are always recognized. This has been a simple and sure-fire way to reinforce a healthy morale. A united effort is a core value of our company’s framework.

Every Monday, we have a company-wide update session where departments share upcoming initiatives, news and information openly. We’ve ingrained an ethic of teamwork and departmental unity from very early on, while creating a highway for internal information that allows change to come about in organic and engaging ways.

Good leadership means being agile

Agile is a word we use a lot to describe our product. In the tech world, it’s one of the most coveted qualities in software development. It means allowing requirements and solutions to evolve through collaborative self-organizing and cross-functional teams.

While employees are the engine of a business, good management is the fuel that helps it run. Acknowledging these two interrelated and integral relationships can go a long way. TrackTik employees believe in their leadership. In turn, leadership demonstrates how much they value the team’s energy and passion. It’s a priority to create a collaborative, dedicated and team-oriented workplace, all while prioritizing a core value of openness.

Compromising any of this to meet deadlines or demand can have long-term effects on morale. Employees become disengaged and you’ll find yourself putting out fires (such as short staffing or low productivity) at critical times when you could, and should, be focusing on growth and progress.

Ultimately, for a business to have a strong and healthy culture, it must be a team effort. When organizations work co-operatively with their employees to help build their story, the result is a strong, united march towards guaranteed success.

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Executives, educators and human resources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Lab series.