How To Grow Without Losing Your Company Culture: 4 Lessons From Salesforce

Every large company was a small business once. And no doubt a key to their success and growth was and is maintaining what made them great in the first place. This is certainly true here at Salesforce. Jody Kohner is Salesforce’s VP of Employee Marketing and Engagement. Simply put, she leads efforts to ensure Salesforce is fostering and nurturing a strong employee engagement experience for its 16,000+ employees globally.

Kohner sat down with us to share the keys to maintaining the heart of Salesforce for the past 16 years, plus how small business owners like yourself can do the same as your company grows.

1. Recruit people who are culture fits

When hiring for your team, make sure each addition is a natural fit for your culture, so they will thrive once they start working their. This is a much harder task as companies grow, especially at a place like Salesforce, which receives hundreds of thousands of resumes from job seekers each year.

Kohner recommends setting up an employee referral program from the start. “Our most successful recruits are referrals,” says Kohner. “If you have an employee who is dialed in, is impassioned about their work, and walks the walk, they are going to refer like minded people.”

2. Make culture part of onboarding

Once you’ve made a hire, you want to make sure they don’t bring any bad habits with them. Check those at the door by introducing employees to your culture from the start.

At Salesforce, integrated philanthropy and our 1:1:1 model mission have been a key piece from the beginning. As a part of orientation, new hires are asked to spend time volunteering. “From the start they understand that Salesforce has a corporate soul, and as employees, they are a vital part of that,” says Kohner.

3. Work to keep employees engaged

This is about creating a space where employees really want to be. How are you making your company a place individuals want to come back to every day? Kohner’s advice is to emphasize gratitude by regularly thanking and recognizing employees for their work.  She also says it’s vital that everyone, from top to bottom, is aligned. From the very beginning, Salesforce’s V2MOM exercise has been key to this process.

4. Remember, it all comes down to leadership

"Employees want to feel inspired by their leaders," says Kohner. "Companies going through explosive growth, such as Salesforce has been doing for 16 years, must always be mindful to hire individuals who will lead by example."

If you don't have alignment at the top of the company around what your culture is, and how you will prioritize to preserve it, the culture will erode. "Being vigilant about hiring leaders who are committed to the culture is critical for maintaining that special something that made you great when you were just getting started,” Kohner adds.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.

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