When you join an organization, there’s usually a reason you chose to associate yourself with that particular group. Whether the organization is a business, club, or other group, there’s an aspect that you personally identified with, and felt you’d fit in, so you joined. Alternatively, you may have considered joining an organization, and nonetheless declined to join because you felt it wasn’t a good fit. Or may have joined for a time, and then decided the place wasn’t for you.
What creates a sense of belonging or not belonging to a club or organization is the culture. Every club has a culture, and each culture is based on three key components- rules, traditions, and personalities.
"Rules, traditions, and people working together, sets your club’s culture, and that culture affects your operations and strategy—as well as how employees and members perceive your club."
Rules are the beliefs, norms, values, and attitudes that have been codified by the club’s leadership into expectations, policies, and procedures. Rules tell people what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to interact. Typically, rules are found in official documents such as, the club employee handbook, operations manual, and statement of values. At times, rules are “unwritten” for example, an expectation that employees load their dishes in the dishwasher or they’re not to use emojis in communications with members.
Rules pertaining to safety and security are mostly required rather than merely encouraged, same as the rules governing general club operations, such as dress codes and time-tracking procedures. Generally, when these rules are violated, discipline ensues.
Some rules, encourage behavior rather than require it. Value statements often fall into this category. Employees are recognized and rewarded for exemplifying values, but they’re not formally disciplined if they don’t measure up on a given day.
The kind of club culture you have will depend in large part on the rules you set. If you want a culture marked by specific values, such as honesty and respect, you need rules that tell people these values are important and motivate employees to exhibit them in their work. Also, ensure your club’s rules make sense to create the kind of culture you want established. For example, if your club’s culture is to be friendly and fun, you wouldn’t want to prohibit employees from chatting while they’re on the clock. On the other hand, if you want to establish a culture of strict professionalism, exceptional service and attentiveness to members, then minimizing chit-chat may be a good idea.
Traditions give employees the means to work together and build relationships with one another. Rules tell employees what they should do and how they should act, while traditions are the ongoing and recurring practices at the club. Traditions are conventions, customs, rituals, ceremonies, activities, and physical workspace arrangements.
Traditions of a workplace might include grand events like award ceremonies or annual retreats; traditions can also include mundane activities, such as everyday meetings and standardized communication methods. For example, when club management has staff meetings, it brings people together and gives structure to their discussions. Devising a peer recognition program as a workplace tradition at your club, can provide an opportunity for employees to offer praise and gratitude. It’s through workplace traditions that people ultimately build and maintain professional relationships.
To have an effective work place culture at your club, you need traditions as much as rules—and your club’s traditions and rules need to align. Workplace problems often arise because traditions and rules are in conflict. A club might have a strict anti-harassment policy (rule), but an ineffective system for reporting and investigating (tradition). When rules and tradition don’t align, the culture becomes chaotic, and this chaos creates uncertainty, confusion, and distrust.
Personalities are the third basis of any club culture—the individuals who work there.
If you suddenly replaced every club employee, the club might be the same legal entity, but it wouldn’t be the same place or have the same culture. Even if the rules, traditions, operations, and strategy remained the same. People matter. A lot of what accounts for a club’s character is the people and what they bring to the team as individuals.
Everyone in the workplace has their own personality—their own ideas, perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors. Think of the employee who always has a spring in their step, the manager who regularly takes their team out for coffee, the go-getter who’s eager for a promotion, or the employees who are sure to chat about the latest episode of The Bachelor.
A club’s culture may be rooted in core principles, but as the employees evolve, simply by being themselves so will the club’s culture. Encourage your club employees to improve!
Evolving Your Club Management Culture depends, in part, on the people who work at your club, and this part you will never have complete control over. Nevertheless, workplace culture isn’t something club management should ignore. If your club has rules, traditions, and people working together, then it has an established culture, and that core culture impacts your club operations and strategy—as well as how employees and members perceive your club.
The kind of workplace culture you should strive for depends on the nature of your club. Not every culture will be or should be the same, and what works well at one club may work poorly at another. That said, workplace cultures that are conducive to long-term success are defined in a clear manner, understood and embraced by employees, align with the club’s mission, and are stable through times of growth and crisis. When establishing or assessing rules and traditions, keep those characteristics in mind.
‘What Is Culture, Anyway?’ The HR Pros / April 2018
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