Culture is king for scale-ups - that’s because the cultural fit is a result of fundamental aspects of a person’s character. Whereas lacking skills or knowledge can be improved upon, it is hard (not to mention, unethical!) to impose a character change. People who fit the team culture are more likely to integrate well, care deeply about their work and increase morale - and those attributes are very important in a small team where each individual has a big impact on the group.

If there are skills gaps in your team, it is much more efficient to hire an agency or freelancer who can cover those in the interim while the team upskills. The team can also learn from the external party, with a view to taking over the work once the engagement comes to an end or until they become competent enough.

Due to the nature of fast growth, it’s likely that the skills and expertise required in the marketing team will change at some point as the team pivots to adapt to changing priorities. Placing more importance on hiring a team with a good cultural fit will work in your favour. Priorities change, for example, one of the scale-ups we’ve worked with realised early on their team of generalist marketers lacked the specialist knowledge required for growth. Rather than losing team morale by firing and re-hiring they upskilled the existing team, who were happy to embrace change.

It takes time to see whether someone is a good cultural fit, and once the team starts to grow bigger it becomes easier to spot. For a scale-up marketing team, the base behaviours and capabilities to look out for when assessing cultural fit are:

  1. Motivation to deliver in a faster, more efficient or more sustainable way.
  2. An understanding of the larger goal that small-scale objectives contribute to.
  3. Receptive and open to feedback and self-improvement.
  4. Inclusive and collaborative.
  5. Able to work in an agile and flexible way.
  6. Capable of taking ownership of projects.

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