Do you remember what it was like to get your first job? I do. Barely 15, I felt all of the doors to life just flying open. The position was as an Aquatics Instructor with the YMCA in Edmonton. A position I had aspired to for years, with an organization where the work experience matched the Member experience. The organizational culture aligned so well with my own personal goals, morals, and norms. An employment match made in heaven. So much so, I stayed with the YMCA of Edmonton for 8 years, held 6 different job titles, received 3 different (and increasing) compensation packages, and worked at 2 different locations. I was an effective team member who was both valued and empowered through a culture of community, family, and individual growth.
Introduction to Organizational Culture
I’ll never forget my very first team meet as a full-time staff member with the YMCA of Edmonton. Our group of about a dozen FTE’s and managers spent a great deal of time talking about the experiences of our Members. How our performance and presence could greatly affect their experience in the facility. We covered everything from uniforms and dress codes, to cleaning procedures and minor customer service incidents. All of our discussions maintained a focus on the people within each situation – the Members (customers) and the Employees. It was in that meeting, nearly 20 years ago, that I was first introduced to the concept of organizational culture.
Organizational Culture Is Not a New Thing!
I was recently given the opportunity to work on a project with a local business in Saskatoon. This business provides bookkeeping services to a wide range of customers in our region. The goal of our project was to create systems and implement tools to manage employee turnover and increase engagement, ultimately to improve productivity. In our discovery meeting, the conversation immediately went to their desire to improve their workplace culture.
Often, I think back to this first exposure to culture and wonder why so many organizations today see this as something new. In 2020, it is perplexing that culture within a business is perceived as something that can simply be defined and activated overnight. Initially, this was the perspective of my Client on this project. A dangerous fallacy that leaves many business owners and managers forcing their ideas of culture on their teams and within organizations. A common concept that seems to mislead many business owners down a road to corporate cultural misrepresentation.
Taglines Do Not Create Culture
Given the nature of the World today, prior to our project engagement, the Shareholders of this organization were convinced that a tagline “Family First” would accurately communicate their culture. They followed this up by purchasing a Keurig coffee maker for the break room. When we reviewed feedback from current and past employees, a huge disconnect was discovered. The team themselves actually didn’t like the idea of the business being ‘Family First” because they truly felt it only applied to the Shareholders and Senior Managers – not to everyone. And, most employees didn’t drink the coffee in the breakroom, they brought their own from home.
Culture Is Not Dictated From the Top
Don’t be fooled into creating boastful taglines and purchasing gimmicks to create culture. It is not something that can be fabricated from the top down in your business. The culture within your business exists because of your people. The people within your business, their behaviours, preferences, work habits, and group styles. Not because of a tagline on a website or a silly tactic you read about in a magazine. Your people are your culture. Your culture is your brand. The people within your business, those forward-facing employees, those who serve your customers every day with your logo on their chest, they are your culture. How they are treated is how they will treat your customers. The experiences that they have will be reflected in your quarterly revenue reports.
Like the Edmonton YMCA, like-minded people will aspire to gain employment in your organization provided that the culture communicated is reflected within and through your people. You can hang a sign on the wall all day long that says “Family First”. Only a company that is 100% family-owned and operated would be able to reflect this mindset accurately through its people.
Discover how to encourage the development growth of your own, unique company culture – contact SmartHire® today.