Blog: What Type of Culture Are You Growing?

If I were to ask a staff member who reports to you, "What are the three most important things your boss cares about?" what would he or she tell me?

If you don't know, I doubt your employees know. A leader who can quickly answer this question is ahead of the game. As a facility manager, I eventually chose "customer service," "teamwork" and "initiative." I found those three terms made a great roadmap for the job description, candidate selection, interview questions, the congratulatory phone call, the training outline, the evaluation process and even for succession planning. Customer service, teamwork and initiative became our mantra throughout our recreation facility.

Put yourself in the position of a prospective team member. After interviewing for a new position, imagine getting a phone call from the interviewer that starts like this: "During your interview, you demonstrated an understanding of customer service, teamwork and initiative. Because those traits are the basis of our success, we would like to invite you to join our team." What a great way to reinforce the most important aspects of the role right from the beginning of your tenure.

To create a culture that will nurture your core values and support your mission statement, your team needs to know what that culture looks like.

Now, I am not saying that customer service, teamwork and initiative should be your three terms; everyone needs to create terms based on their specific focus. When I do this activity in my Supervisory Skills for Success workshop, I frequently hear aquatics professionals include the word "safety" as one of their three - that would apply to any of us in the leisure industry.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Inc., used the strategy to build an online clothing and footware company so strong that Amazon would purchase it for $1.2 billion in 2009. Tony frequently shares that the Zappos Values are the basis for the positive culture at Zappos focusing on unparalleled customer service. The fun and family-type culture with a focus on employee happiness has helped become an online retail leader.

A positive culture thrives when leaders know who they are, what they stand for and where they want to go with their team. I encourage you to identify your three terms - or better yet, ask your staff what they think. It could be a great first step toward growing a positive culture for your workplace.

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