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Culture Club – Meerkat Moments

Walk into any culture club and you will sense it. It will be demonstrated by the receptionist as they greet you. The cleaner, as they go about their work. The senior leader as they interact with staff and visitors. It will be reflected too in the environment, as everyone on the team ensures the place reflects the purpose. Getting this requires clarity and constant focus.

My work with teams over the years has been fascinating. Culture clubs have a clear and simple mantra, easily understood. When you ask any strata of staff, they will be able to articulate it simply and clearly and there will be synergy with every answer. Spend any time in a culture club and you will see leaders regularly reminding staff of what the culture is and praising it when they see it. So, how do you practically grow and maintain the culture club? Clarity, Meerkats and Synergising is the basic answer. Read on to empower yourself with an amazingly simple approach to do this.


There is a simple phrase that I learnt from a good friend of mine that is crucial for creating the culture club. It is ‘Be clear to get clear’. Clarity on what you want starts with you getting clear in your own mind and then being able to clearly articulate what you want to see and the importance or reason why it is needed. People generally can’t remember more than three words, hence why recent government initiatives to combat coronavirus have been 3 rhyming words. So, can you get the key elements that you want down to 3 words? A simple example of this, was in my previous role as a headteacher, where we had children not behaving in the corridor. So, we had a simple mantra for them, ‘walk on the left’. We launched it in assembly, we modelled it in assembly (and in the corridors). Whenever we saw it done well, we praised it. Whenever it wasn’t, we reminded them calmly, walk on the left. Within a week it was transformed. The key of course was maintaining it.

So, as you consider the culture club that you want. What is it you want to focus on? Can you explain it simply? Can you give the reason why, that will resonate with people?

Getting their focus

The trick to getting people to focus on the culture, is to get to know them and what they are passionate about. Addressing the vision for the culture you want in terms they will buy into is crucial. For many people, they do like to be thanked and recognised for what they are doing. Praise can go a long way for many. Therefore, one of the ways that we can keep the focus on the culture is through the use of praise, using what I call ‘Meerkat Moments’.

Meerkat moments

If you have ever seen Meerkats, maybe on the TV nature programmes. One sound and they all perk up and turn in the direction of the noise. The trick with creating and maintaining culture is to make a noise in the direction of what you want - Meerkat moments. Like Meerkats, people turn in the direction of where the noise and focus of praise is. So, when you see the culture that you want, praise the person. When you see the culture that you want, tell others about the person that you saw doing it. When you see the culture that you want, publicise it in internal memos/newsletters. What is important with Meerkat Moments, is knowing your team. For some people, they can be embarrassed by public recognition. So, use this sensitively with them. They may just appreciate a quiet thank you. For others, the public recognition can be rocket fuel and will motivate them for months. However, again take care that the praise doesn’t become addictive and if it reduces, they crash. It is also important to ensure it is not just one or two people who get recognised, or there may be a risk of being misjudged as having favourites. So, look to find it from as many different people as you can.

So, as you consider the culture club that you want. Who have you seen doing it? What methods of publicising the behaviour you have seen can you use?

Spot, Speak, Synergise

For some people, they find it hard to connect the dots. This is where ‘Spot, Speak, Synergise’ comes in. It is basic teaching principles to help embed the learning. When you see behaviour that you want (SPOT), then SPEAK into it. Either tell the person what you have seen or tell others. Then SYNERGISE it with the culture that you have talked about previously. This way people can connect the dots that the behaviour seen helps to create the culture that you are after. “Gemima, I loved the way that you greeted that customer. It was calm, welcoming and friendly and you asked her what she needed today. It really fits the culture of customer focus that I talked about in our customer service staff meeting last week. Thank you for making her day and creating the culture that we want here.” Imagine the pride Gemima feels hearing that. Then try some ‘positive gossip’, telling others about Gemima as you walk back to the office (if you know she will not be embarrassed about it). That will really get the Meerkats focusing in that direction.

The culture club is not created in a moment. It is ongoing. Indeed, that is one of the common traits of all culture clubs is the culture of ongoing replenishment of the culture. Meerkat moments and Spot, Speak, Synergise can be great tools in that. Try them this week. See what impact it has.

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 if we can be of help to you by contacting us on


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