Pro Tips

Growth vs. Culture: Which Side Will Win?

by Tiffany Markarian

In the ongoing battle of growth vs. culture which side will win? First, let’s look at the problem. Many companies are watching their bottom line and seeing a pattern. Some are in growth mode; others are seeing stagnant productivity, revenues or clients.

Whatever stage you are in, one circumstance facing everyone is the continual changes to client buying patterns and perceptions. Figuring your way through these challenges will determine which side wins in the growth vs. culture battle.

Firms are at an important crossroad. You can continue to operate the same way as always or evolve to better support your niche markets. Marketing or sales approaches that worked in the past need to be adapted to tighter, more educational approaches. Furthermore, you need to deliver your marketing approach in the manner your target clients prefer to receive information.

The First Battle

To continue to grow, your entire team needs to understand the perspectives of today’s consumers and your niche markets. This is a culture shift. They need to understand the repercussions of complacency during this profound time. It is a historical sticking point for many firms…but one that can be changed.

Firms can be in a good position, if they position themselves properly.

Many firms want to embrace new approaches, marketing campaigns or technology. Every time we attend an industry meeting, we get excited to return home and share the ideas we learned with our team. The problem is great conversations happen, but the ideas often never get executed.

It is Growth vs. Culture.

So, what is exactly happening?

A growth strategy never moves forward if you do not focus on a bottom-up strategy for culture change. Leadership is not always top-down…meaning…sharing ideas and telling people to do something new does not always change behavior or your firm’s culture.

Not every company is working with a brand-new team. They may be working with a talented, dedicated team who have been doing things a certain way for years – change is scary and uncomfortable. It becomes difficult to evolve your culture when team members are comfortable or skeptical. Particularly, if your team has seen ideas come and go with no execution or accountability from leadership.

This pattern of talking about ideas without proper context or follow-through creates a plague in your culture. Culture will win, because you are fighting your team’s perceptions, fears and doubt. Many of your team members seem engaged in a meeting but lose faith when there is no follow-through. We’ll often hear team members say, “our firm has great ideas, but we never get traction.”

Everything that’s great about your firm can continue.

Your team needs to know how your products or services fit a necessary gap in today’s marketplace. This is the key to helping your team move forward.

Let your team know that everything that’s great about your firm carries into the future. Your team’s spirit of service, responsiveness and relationships is what keeps clients engaged. The challenge is engaging new clients who operate with different buying patterns and preferences. Knowing this is how you can grow and sustain.

Rallying Your Team

You have to learn a new way of interacting with your niche markets. It takes time, so you need to focus on guiding your culture from the bottom-up by educating each individual staff member. You need to fully address and uncover their individual concerns and commit to consistent training and evolution. It is not about sharing a great idea with your team. It is about consistent support, accountability and action to gain their trust.

If you, as the leader, have been guilty of talking about ideas but not followed through on execution, you may need an outside party to help your team see things differently. That may be the only way to change perceptions. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to get people to listen and execute. This allows a dual win for growth and your culture, as well as the clients you serve.

Growth vs. Culture. Tiffany Markarian has been helping businesses advance their marketing momentum since 1995. She is a frequent author for industry journals and a sought-after keynote speaker. She can be reached at or Twitter @AdvantusMktg.

Tiffany MarkarianGrowth vs. Culture: Which Side Will Win?

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