How Do You Keep the 'Family Feel' as Your Team Grows?

Always Remember That Each Individual Counts

By Published on .

A small agency isn't for everyone, but for those who love to call one their workday home, having a "family feel" means everything.

What constitutes a family feel?

  • Every individual counts. Nobody is a cog in the machine.
  • If the individual believes in the company, the company responds in kind.
  • Individuals get to wear many hats to foster career growth and maturity.
  • Learning goals are supported through training and classes.
  • Every opinion matters, and people are encouraged to speak their mind.
  • Individuals share respect and care for one another, creating a true sense of camaraderie.

Team members can experience rapid personal and professional growth, as well as a sense of contributing to something special. In return, they are expected to think about what they do each day and pull what often amounts to more than their weight. You can't fly under the radar at a small company. People are usually more engaged and strive for additional responsibilities. The benefits to the agency are low turnover, an ever-expanding knowledge base and an increasingly efficient team.

How do you maintain the family feel as the company grows? It takes a lot of care and devotion. Here are strategies we've used as our firm has grown over the past 10 years:

  • Show that management is paying attention. Take time to address and appreciate each individual, calling out special accomplishments. Similarly, don't overlook poor performance. The devoted will grow frustrated if they see laziness going unnoticed or unaddressed.
  • Stay on top of problems. The culture should be one of respect and open communication, adopting a "we-are-all-in-this-together" mentality. Having mechanisms to identify, discuss and resolve problems early supports healthy evolution and growth. Employee concerns and frustrations should be addressed promptly to keep up morale.
  • Support the team. This can be as simple as organizing social activities or rotating late shifts to avoid burnout, or as serious as discussing whether dealing with a difficult client is worth the toll it takes on everyone.
  • Allot time for internal training or creative exploration. Pair strengths with weaknesses. Passionate employees want to feel that they're growing; as you gain employees, team members are more likely to feel pigeonholed by their strengths.
  • Give feedback. Team leaders should conduct one-on-one or small group meetings to let the team know how challenging situations are evolving or being handled. This helps build confidence that a culture of caring endures and that management is actively listening. Action then need to be taken on the findings.
  • Hire with morale in mind. The most important step in maintaining a family feel is to make sure that team members share this vision. Each hire should be as much a fit in spirit as in talent. A larger team requires more management, and it's imperative that everyone attempt to instill and live up to the family-culture ideals the company was founded on.
Laura Primack is creative director at AvatarLabs.
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