In my last article, I explored the concept of organizational culture. Regardless of the type of firm, this phenomenon occurs, and is a critical factor in, shaping strategy, outcomes, goals, and missions. In a private clubs’ culture, the agreed-upon set of norms and values that are acceptable within the club facility are especially meaningful. From dress code to behavior, these regulations make up the distinct culture of a club.
Previously, I claimed that when the system of recruitment and retention in a private club is designed around this shared, identifiable values system, it is highly effective and sustainable. But one of the challenges that exists within the private club industry is that the values of a culture often span a number of decades, thus causing some parts to become ignored or forgotten. This is an opportunity—not an obstacle—for managers to leverage and design new, cross-generational relationships.
How and Why Cultures Occur
In every generation, there exists common behaviors, beliefs, traditions, rules, and rituals that are shared with subsequent generations due to their importance to a way of living and acting. It is here, within these intentionally repeatable normative characteristics, where the unique identifiable club cultures emerge.
Sustentative cultures are not artificially developed or created. They are formed by an intense focus on a series of acceptable and agreed upon social norms which emerge over time. An organization's’ culture is nurtured and shaped by the ability of its participants (or stakeholders) to be recognized, heard, and celebrated for demonstrating these behaviors over time.
Norms—positive or acceptable behaviors—are not rules or necessarily core values, however they can be developed and integrated in much the same manner only with a deeper understanding, meaning, and application for all participants.
What Leveraging Culture Looks Like in a Business
Business-related functions can become positive behavioral roles for all participants connected to the organization rather than just traditionally-defined tasks. For example:
“Acts in accordance with company standards” could become “Do the right thing, always.”
“Utilize company resources in a financially responsible manner” could become “Do more with less.”
Now, I’m not advocating for throwing the existing club rules or human resources handbook out the window. In fact, these are important tools that create boundaries and frame necessary discussions and actions when previously-agreed-upon norms are violated. Instead, I am proposing a shift in the execution and implementation of culture systems. With this in mind, managers should approach the process of building relationships with a focus on the group as a whole, instead of just the individuals in that group.
When groups and subgroups of an organization are allowed to establish agreed-upon norms in the culture, these participants will self-regulate acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. They will monitor for under-performance and support business strategies.
In my opinion, managers will find that the desired standards and operational outcomes created by allowing groups to form—the expected club culture for work—will be more frequently met than rules established and demanded by supervising authorities. This will, in turn, create a stronger relationship and will foster the ability to communicate meaningfully.