If you want to maintain a great culture, you must model and reward the behavior you are promoting - especially during times of rapid growth and change. It’s not enough to post your values on a plaque and your website and assume they will be followed.

Last year, our parent company Qualbe Marketing Group was named to the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies. We realized that the larger the company became, the more careful we would need to be to safeguard what we had begun. Airbnb came to a similar realization as they grew. The startup had to reassess some things to make sure they stayed true to their roots. At some point, your organization will come to the same place, if it hasn’t already.

Read on to learn about some key initiatives that have helped us maintain our award-winning company culture and can help you maintain your own during times of growth and change.

1. Lead by Example

Leadership teams set the tone for company culture. They model Qualbe’s core values by treating others with respect no matter what job title they possess.

Our IT department making mango lassis for the company

This brand of leadership by example comes from the belief that leaders must go first. They must be “culture champions.” We do not ask our staff to do something that leadership has not done or is unwilling to do themselves.

For example, if employees see leaders and managers who admit their own mistakes, it makes it so much easier for them to admit theirs, which both models and maintains our core value #9: “Be Humble.” When humility is absent in leadership, everybody notices the hypocrisy and it kills the great culture you have created.

2. Train Employees in the Core Values

Training new employees in the core values begins with our How Qualbe Works document, in which we carefully describe the values’ meaning and importance. All candidates are given an assignment to read and respond to this document in our application process. In fact, we encourage people who are turned off by our values to not apply. If they disagree with even one of our core values, they will probably not be a good fit at this organization and may even bring down the culture.

Recently we added Friday Lunch and Learns. About twice a month, the company provides lunch for every employee along with training in how to put the core values in action. Our Lunch and Learns help solidify the company-wide goal of creating a workplace that employees want to be a part of.

Friday Lunch and Learn: “The Communication Wheel”

3. Celebrate Rock Stars

Whatever you want repeated needs to be rewarded. Celebrating your Core Values is as important as training people in them. Consistently do things in your company that will keep your Core Values at the forefront of employees’ minds.

We reward Core Value behavior every week with our Rock Star Awards. These awards allow managers and coworkers to share “good gossip” throughout the company when they catch someone doing a great job. Our administration team emails the entire company with each week’s Rock Star Awards and creates a paper version of each card for employees to post on their desks.

Rock Star Awards have helped us build a culture of praise and promote a sense of pride in the organization.

Real Examples:

Brad H. displayed Core Value 5: Build positive, proactive and loyal teams: “We had some people out on Monday and the call volume was super high, making it really hard for the sales team to keep up. Brad wasn't on the schedule and out of town that day but came into work that afternoon once he got back into town, just to help us. It was a huge help and I'm grateful for Brad's work ethic and willingness to help out the team on his day off!" - Bryant P
Joshua M. displayed Core Value 7: Work hard to achieve goals: “We had an order for a site audit come in, and Jonathan is on vacation this week, so Joshua took on both the design AND technical site performance recommendations. Thankful to be on a team in which each person works hard to deliver and do what needs to get done even if something isn't their job." - Becky D

A wise man once said, “Our character is what we do when no one is looking.” If our employees believe this, they are an ideal fit at Qualbe.

4. Treat People Right

Employees love being treated well while being trusted with important, challenging work, and it shows in both their character and professional development. If your managers set the example and if excellence is noticed and rewarded, your employees will naturally desire to better themselves in both character and skill.

Make sure everyone in the company puts others ahead of themselves, desiring to cultivate one another’s gifts rather than simply being out for themselves. Most companies are set up to reward self-promoting behavior. Seek to grow a company that rewards those who lift others up instead.

Model the behavior you desire, and make sure each system in your company rewards and reinforces it. That’s how to maintain an award-winning company culture.

Learn more about Our Story of how we developed an award-winning culture.

What are some ways you model and reward your own core values in your organization?