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Culture Club – Getting to the heart of it

Have you ever experienced the ‘Culture Club’? Those old enough to remember are now searching their vinyl collection and concert ticket stubs and the depths of their memory to see if they have seen the 1980’s band. Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not that culture club.

When you walk through the door of the ‘Culture Club’ you can feel it. It starts from the greeting in reception. It’s seen in the décor and the display on the walls. It’s evident in the faces and language of the man wielding the mop to the lady at the top. You know you have entered a culture club. Now, before you go googling to find the franchise of ‘culture clubs’, as you have maybe envisaged exquisite private clubs to relax and enjoy, you will not find them in that manifestation. Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not that culture club either. These Culture Clubs are not like Brad Pit’s Fight Club movie or the IT Crowd’s Street Countdown, illusive clubs for only those in the know to discover. The Culture Clubs can be everywhere, if you can find them.

So, what is a culture club and where can you find them? The culture club is any organisation that has a culture embedded throughout it that is so focused on the people that the organisation serves. It’s not about the customer service manual or the induction. It’s about a culture. It’s about people who understand and believe passionately in the purpose that they seek every opportunity to demonstrate it from the heart.

Heart not the manual

Whether you are a business, a charity or a school, each organisation is likely to have a staff handbook or manual. A list of prescribed behaviours and expectations. Many places will rightly have code of conducts and an induction programme to settle staff into the way to do things. But having these do not enable you to join the culture club. In the words of ‘Fun Boy Three’ (another 80’s music reference) “it aint what you do, it’s the way that you do it.” It is about the team getting the purpose in their heart and emotions, not just academically.

Over the summer, my wife and I completed the NorthCoast500 trip. Ten days of stunning views of the North Coast of Scotland, that meant stopping at a variety of hotels and B&Bs. As well as looking for the Loch Ness monster and looking for stunning scenery, I developed another quest as we visited each hotel and guest house and to examine the customer culture. All of them welcomed us, all of them explained where our room was and the routines. But the culture club is beyond the practicalities. It is the way you welcome guests. It is the rigour in checking things are ok. It is the synchronicity of the standard of the room, the cleaning in even the smallest corner, the helpfulness of the cleaner/waitress/gardener, alongside the welcome at reception. Most of the accommodation was positive, but the difference was huge and we found very few true culture clubs on our trip.

‘Why’ not the ‘What’

As a leader, we can create the culture club in our organisation. As Simon Sinek highlighted in his TedTalk and book, ‘It starts with the WHY.’ When we tell our team what they need to do for the customer or those that you serve, it will give them the practicalities that are expected. But people generally don’t buy into a ‘what’. They buy into a ‘why’. When you create your culture club, help them understand the reason behind what you do and also align it with the purpose that is valuable to them.

Everyday Leader’s purpose is to inspire, equip and empower people. So, when Chloe books in people for coaching and training, she doesn’t just know the what of the efficiencies of the process. She understands the purpose of what we are trying to do. So, if something is not possible, she will do her utmost to help them because she knows it is not just about booking someone in, it is about facilitating them to be equipped and inspired. She will make sure people have what they need for a session, not because it is on a list of practicalities, but because her role is to ensure people are equipped for a training or a coaching session.

Practically, as leaders, the best engagement with the ‘why’ comes when we consider what is it that drives this member of the team. Where is their alignment with the ‘why’ of the organisation? Helping them see it in their terms enables them to buy into the purpose of the organisation. My wife manages a team of cleaners for a holiday cabin company. She helped them see that they were not ‘just cleaners’. They were in fact ‘bringers of joy’. When they cleaned the cabins to high standards the people attended could have a wonderful time away in the countryside in their beautiful cabins. They brought joy. “What would you like if you were going to have a lovely weekend away?” she asked them. In asking that question it helped align their desires to stay in a clean place with the purpose to being joy.

Customer relationship not Customer service

Any good organisation has customer service at the centre of what they do. Serving those we are there for is crucial if we want them to keep using us. Culture Club venues understand it is not a mechanical list of things that we do. They understand that it is ‘who we are’. They build relationship with those they serve. When they ask, “how can I help you?” they mean it. They want to help. They value the customer and want the best for them. In training I run on customer service, I would say to participants what I said to my staff, imagine this is your mum, gran, sister, daughter, best friend. What would you do for them?

Your name is not on the list – you can’t come in

A culture club has a team of people who work as a team. They get the ethos, the culture and the purpose. Jim Collins, talks in his book Good to Great about a) getting the right people on the bus and b) getting them on the right seats. Culture Club leaders make sure that the interview process gets the right people in. People who believe in the purpose. The adverts, the interview process all highlight and examine the core skills and ethos that is needed for the culture club. Culture Club leaders are also brave enough, whatever the labour market is like, to say ‘sorry but no’ if the right culture in the person is not evident. Culture Club leaders also regularly check in with staff so that they continue to model the culture from the heart. If they don’t, they chat it through with them to improve things. There will be more in future blogs on how to do that well. Becoming a culture club can take years to build but can be lost in seconds when one team member loses the heart for the culture. It’s crucial therefore to regularly revisit with one another what you stand for.

First Steps

If you would like to apply to be a Culture Club, what are your first steps.

  • Step 1- Consider who you serve and what your purpose is.

  • Step 2 - Consider what is the culture that you want. What does that look like? How will it feel for those you serve?

  • Step 3 - Review what you currently have through the lens of your purpose. Where are we meeting this? Where are we not? A) Say what you see first. B) Then consider what might be causing this. C) Consider ways you could improve it.

  • Step 4 - Put one thing into place. Monitor it, review it, analyse how it is going.

  • Step 5 - Work on the next area. Keep reviewing with people the last area.

Becoming a culture club takes time and patience. Over the next 4 weeks we will examine further on becoming a culture club and looking at how you establish the culture and maintain the culture.

Would you like to be a Culture Club? We can help you in a range of ways. Maybe, you would like us to help you assess with fresh eyes what you have but what is missing. Maybe you would like some coaching to help examine this yourself? Maybe you would like training for your staff in areas that will help you become a Culture Club.

Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know by contacting us on


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