4 Tips to Help Maintain Cultural Beliefs in the Startup World

By Lauren Keepers

Creating an empowering, innovative work culture where employees feel inspired and enabled to contribute to the growth of the organization can sound like a challenging task, especially when transitioning from startup venture to bonafide enterprise. Not surprisingly, building a solid work culture is fairly easy in early stages. Pizza parties, birthday celebrations, donut runs, Taco Tuesdays and waffle making contests allow transparent personal and professional communication to naturally blossom. Think about it: A business gains the official LLC title through the collective efforts of a few risk-taking visionaries who carry the shared desire to breathe life into an untapped market opportunity. The hard part is grooming that same small group of entrepreneurs to take on a big picture perspective when it comes to preserving the unique work culture they embedded into the biological makeup of the company’s being. After all, achieving business goals and scalability milestones isn’t doable without having the right people in the right environment.

For any startup, the ultimate objective is typically to gain enough momentum in its expansion efforts to eventually reach the “large organization” status. And one indisputable truth tends to shine through during that journey: Growth and culture aren’t mutually exclusive. They’re symbiotic. A good organization’s greatest asset is always its people, and each individual’s personality, beliefs, skills, life experiences and day-to-day behaviors are indicators of this. Your network of employees, no matter how small, is bound to find a rhythm in how they interact with one another, whether that’s characterized as collaborative, confrontational, supportive or social.

We can guarantee with a fair degree of certainty that you won’t be a startup forever, so building and sustaining a work culture that grows as your business grows is crucial to your organization’s long term success. With the right people, you’ll have the ability to extend the thoughtfully crafted core values that make your company stand out against the competition and hold true to those ideologies as your business hits the 100, 1,000 and 10,000 employee mark.


Here are the pillars our recruiting team lives by to help candidates understand the Canpango way:

  • We take risks.
  • We embrace “the awesome” in our fellow Canpangoans.
  • We set (and achieve) lofty goals.
  • We fail hard, but we fail fast.
  • We never shy away from ideating.
  • We are always brutally honest.
  • We embrace the “grey.”
  • We are always the SMEs
  • We create opportunities to coach our fellow Canpangoans.
  • We have fun.


Ensuring you hold your organization accountable to your beliefs as you grow can get tricky, as translating a list of words into actions is an entirely different ball game. Here are four hacks you can use to proactively ensure your company preserves its core cultural values when entering the big leagues:


1 | Nominate spirit leaders to prioritize work culture.

Not every startup has the funds or resources to devote to a role with profound titles like “Chief People Officer” or “Senior VP of People Operations,” especially as the business is trying to get its feet off the ground. And if you have an executive team whose busy schedules mirror that of P.O.T.U.S, then at the bare minimum you should work to identify an employee (or group of employees) to represent your culture committee. In conjunction with their daily responsibilities, spirit ambassadors will ensure culture is recognized as a top priority and will take ownership of keeping it there. Those tasks could entail organizing monthly new hire lunches, coordinating ice cream outings and group coffee (or tea) breaks and finding unique ways to celebrate big company wins. Of course, this ambassadorship shouldn’t divert spirit leaders from their primary roles and responsibilities.

PRO TIP: We’re big believers in the power of Facebook Workplace, a tool that helps break down organizational silos and increase personal communication, knowledge sharing and overall collaboration amongst team members. This platform enables both business and cultural growth, and results in a greater transparency along the way.


2 | “Manager” should be synonymous with “Champion.”

Commit yourself to opting for the promotion and hiring of team members that advocate for each individual’s personal and professional growth. Those that are led by example will in turn be able to lead by example in the future. By investing in the people growing process, your organization will have the ability to proactively protect the welfare of your future business. Regardless of your leadership style, whether it’s results-oriented or relational, junior and senior associates will come to the office energized and motivated to march together with a common purpose.


3 | Clearly convey your mission, values and vision in your day-to-day interactions with colleagues and physically within the office space.

Documenting your company’s mission statement is essential to facilitating a future-focused work culture. But finding ways to creatively declare and share those fundamental values with employees will pave the way for the next-level opportunities to work toward one unified goal and properly align organizational intention setting. In order to further crystalize this “North Star” cultural directive, reinforce the mission’s pillars via regular communication practices. For example, this could include inspirational signage located in and around conference rooms or other collaborative workspaces. In conjunction with this, utilize at least one  “people-conscious” social media platform. Canpango’s preferred platform to represent employee culture is Instagram. Celebrating the people that make your organization’s world go round is crucial, so do it clearly and do it authentically. A little transparency goes a long way in the workplace, regardless of company size.


4 | Integrate cultural values into the fiber of your recruiting strategy framework.

The simplest way to propagate a strong set of deeply rooted cultural beliefs is by hiring people with passion. At the end of the day, future employees are human beings with interests, and in order to evaluate whether or not they’ll be a good fit for the company, it’s important for recruiting teams to always keep the candidate experience in mind to ensure applicants feel at ease throughout the process. The best way to do this is by encouraging candidate engagements to flow as natural conversations, as opposed to unleashing a chain of robotic, interrogative questioning. Conventional behavioral-based interview questions will always play a major role in gathering the appropriate amount of intel to gauge your applicants’ experience and skill level, but this type of recruitment approach should exist simultaneously with informal dialogue tactics that help determine who the candidates are as people.

PROTIP: Revolutionary recruiters take strides to bring “the human element” to the table in every single interview. One way to do this is by branching out from email to texting. This makes for a more enriched candidate experience that is more personal and more memorable.


Building and nourishing employee-to-employee connections that anchor your startup’s cultural beliefs is vital to its future growth potential. Need some advice on how to master the art of preserving your startup’s cultural beliefs? Chat with one of Canpango’s expert recruiters today to learn more.

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