4 Tips for Maintaining Cultural DNA During High Growth

Satisfy employees with a positive, fun-loving, yet accountable work environment.

learn more about Mark McClain

By Mark McClain


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While they can't always be computed using typical business metrics, I've always maintained that a company's success is in large part due to a strong corporate culture. This magic ingredient means creating an environment in which your employees want to come to work and put their best effort forward each and every day.

Thankfully, we at SailPoint have even been fortunate enough to be named one of the Austin Business Journal's "Best Places to Work" for seven years in a row -- a testament to the fact that we have created a place where our team not only appreciates the work environment, but also sees value in what they are doing.

Related: How to Win on Company Culture

As we continue to grow, ensuring that we maintain our cultural DNA plays an even bigger part in the company's long-term success. As we continue to scale the company up and prepare to take our company to the next level, we are faced with a high growth conundrum. How do we effectively scale our company culture as the business grows and evolves? While it's a simple question to pose, the answers are not so easy.

The following are four key principals that are helping us as we scale culture in a high-growth company.

1. Walk the talk.

While many factors influence culture, the single most important one is what leaders do and say on a daily basis. A crucial step to maintaining a winning culture is to build a cohesive leadership team aligned around a common vision and expected behaviors with the determination and willingness to make culture a top priority throughout growth.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

2. Focus on more than the fun stuff.

A core tenet of SailPoint's cultural efforts go beyond fun to focus on management practices. While we make it a point to have a lot of fun at work, we are committed to ensuring that employees understand the company's goals and expectations. As a result, employees think and act like owners, taking personal responsibility for overall business performance. As our company grows, it is especially important to provide our team with the tools and resources they need to be successful, and hold them accountable for meeting their objectives.

3. Bridge the time and distance gap.

As our company expands internationally, we make it a priority to do our best to extend our corporate culture worldwide. Sometimes that implies exporting, but we've learned it also implies importing at times. We've picked up some great ideas for culture from our teammates around the world.

We also keep all of our employees connected through an online community, which fosters collaboration and extends the "hallway" conversations to remote workers. We send members of the executive team to visit regularly and have formal onboarding events that bring new employees to the headquarters during their first few months. It's particularly important that our distributed employees feel connected to the home office to maintain and extend our cultural DNA worldwide.

4. Manage communications.

Finally, it's critical that all employees have a holistic view of the business. As we have grown, it quickly became necessary to implement more formal communications vehicles to reach all of our employees. Instead of weekly meetings over breakfast tacos, we began holding monthly company-wide teleconferences to keep employees tapped into the company's pulse and informed about the bigger vision. These engagement opportunities provide a good outlet for celebrating victories across the company, as well as a forum for input.

Related: 5 High Tech Tools to Benefit Remote Workers

Culture is critically important to a company's success because it is the glue that will hold a complex organization together. That's why I think all entrepreneurs should be dedicated to building and maintaining a great cultural DNA at all levels of growth.

We've learned that while the "work hard, play hard" slogan always fits, providing employees with clear expectations and encouraging company-wide communication are instrumental in keeping our team motivated. We've done our best to add to that a positive, fun-loving, yet accountable work environment. With all of that in place, we're confident we'll be able to keep the company thriving and set up for long-term success.

Mark McClain

CEO and Co-founder of SailPoint

Mark McClain is CEO and co-founder of SailPoint, the leader in identity and access management. In 2015, Mark earned the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Central Texas and is a 2016 Glassdoor Highest Rated CEO.

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