As Hoosier companies adapt their growth aspirations to the current workforce, it’s paramount they maintain their values and company culture. Larger companies can learn from family-owned cultures, especially when it comes to the treatment of customers and employees.

According to a 2021 study, the top priorities of family-owned businesses include expanding to new markets and clients and introducing new products and/or services. During periods of growth, family-owned companies should leverage and build upon their foundation instead of replacing it. Family-owned companies tend to have concentrated decision-making processes, attention to detail and more personal connections that lead to higher customer satisfaction and increased employee retention. Large enterprise environments, however, have advantages of their own: advanced technology, streamlined processes, effective financial management and more.

Integrating the positive aspects of big business while maintaining the advantages of family-owned culture and values can result in effective, high-performing organizations.

Understand the foundation before disrupting it.

For organizations acquiring a family-owned company or existing leaders preparing new high-growth strategies, recognizing and upholding the company’s unique and long-established business standards is essential. Ahead of any acquisition, new management should spend at least six months learning the organization, asking questions and listening to insight from all employees at all levels, along with gathering customer feedback by talking with them directly or hiring a third-party surveyor. After gaining a full understanding of the organization, managers can determine which changes are necessary to establish a growth mindset and strategy that will help build a more valuable company.

When new or existing management focuses exclusively on growth and expansion without keeping culture in mind, they risk neglecting valuable insight from employees who have more familiarity with the company and its stakeholders. Processes and procedures that may have worked elsewhere could alienate current customers and/or employees, resulting in turnover and a backslide in performance and reputation.

One of the most common challenges of family-owned company cultures is a lack of efficiency. To combat this, implementing new initiatives and streamlining processes will offer opportunities to devote more resources toward growth and expansion. While streamlining operations, however, maintaining personal connections is essential for ensuring customer loyalty and employee retention. Strong internal relationships enhance the team’s bond and boost engagement, while external relationships increase client satisfaction.

Tie organizational values and missions into growth efforts.

Weaving an organization’s values into the expansion of team members and clientele can help increase recruitment, retention and client satisfaction. Maintaining core elements will establish a foundation of trust upon which to introduce positive change. This will ease the process of introducing new ideas, encouraging employees to embrace changes that will improve the established organization.

Growth should center on the organization’s mission with the goal of having a wider impact. Working toward a common purpose enhances employees’ engagement and willingness to support new initiatives due to an increased sense of meaning and purpose in their work. Value-based, mission-driven work is a driving factor in many employees’ decision to join and stay part of a team, which is why family-owned businesses often see higher retention rates.

Working toward aggressive goals and pursuing new opportunities requires balancing efficiency with attention to detail. In order to expand clientele, attract top talent and accrue more industry partnerships, family-owned businesses should leverage the advantages they have and the strong relationships they have cultivated while eyeing the future.

Gary Hentschel is the chief executive officer of WSI Technologies, an Indianapolis-based public sector technology solutions provider and parent company of iRecord and Evertel.

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