'Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit’ - Jawaharlal Nehru
The image that has always stuck with me about culture is one of interconnection among not only humans but of all living and breathing things. This is as true today as it was from the beginning of time. Now let’s bring culture into the sphere that we know best. For some it is the classroom chock full of kids beaming with energy; for others, it is taking a group of grumpy adults through a rigorous exercise routine. The ‘grumpy’ thing was a joke of course but may have some truth if compared to how children just want to move and play. What does culture mean to you? Do you see it as something inconsequential to how you operate daily? Or do you feel that it is very much the fabric and lifeblood of what you are about and how you take that into your personal and professional life?
How do we define culture?
The way in which we conduct business or train a client has everything to do about how others see you. More importantly, it is how they experience your service that makes the biggest impact. What you stand for dictates how your culture will ultimately spread within your business.
Let us explore the difference between an inclusive versus an exclusive culture first.
In the early days of setting up my functional training performance centre, we had a huge disparity between males and females primarily due to the male dominance and tendency towards machoism. Some members blasphemed freely, took their shirts off, grunted loudly and gave intense stares after a big set. Whose fault was it that we had other members fearing for their lives (slight exaggeration but you know what I mean)? It was mine!
By allowing these ‘small things’ to reign freely, we were having our culture being dictated to us rather than shaped by us. Big difference right there!
Ultimately, the little things matter most when forming and shaping your culture. We decided to change things and create ‘the Primal way’ an unwritten code that all members adhered to out of respect for one another. We banned certain behaviours as mentioned above and began the enjoyable process of shaping our training facility culture – both inside and out. Our culture simply evolved from an ‘exclusive and boisterous culture’ to an ‘inclusive and nurturing culture’.
And you know what happened? We started to see more females and other people from a broad spectrum of society enter and feel welcome at our gym. From then on we started to see deeper connections form among members. Our culture started to spread organically and beautifully.
Ways to kill culture:
No vision mission and values established. Without this there are no guiding principles for your team and members to abide by
Allowing members to do what they like. A simple conversation one on one is the best thing to sort out issues whether perceived or real. You will never know what you will unearth this way.
Make promises to your clients or members and don’t keep them. As we learned last principle ‘building trust’ forms the basis for effective culture to develop.
Ways to build a positive culture:
Establish your vision, mission and values. At primal our daily mission is based on ‘Progress, results and community’.
Ensure your team know every member’s name and something about them e.g. their hobby or passion.
Set social events every so often like monthly dinners or activities to build more community and connections among members and your team.
This list is not exhaustive yet will provide a basis in which you can reflect on how you see and integrate culture into your business and daily life.
Recommended Reading: ‘Unprofessional’ Jack Delosa