A culture that nurtures respect and engagement among colleagues within your company translates powerfully to customer service and satisfaction.
Company culture was a topic of great interest at a BMEN meeting I attended in February.
BMEN is an acronym for Business Media Executive Network. It’s a pretty cool group, comprised of owners and CEOs from ten business media companies (C&RB and Chef to Chef magazines, and our related conferences, databases and suite of digital information products, are all considered to be business media). BMEN members are successful industry veterans—we don’t compete in any served markets and member companies range in size from small to large.
The beauty of BMEN is that we respect each other’s accomplishments and have a common interest in best practices. We share everything (and maintain confidentiality) about our companies’ strategies, tactics, strengths, weaknesses and financial performance. We learn from one another and no one leaves a BMEN meeting without reams of notes and ideas for enhancing our own companies’ performance.
The agenda item I refer to was titled “Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch,” which also happens to be the name of a book authored by Curt Coffman and Kathie Sorensen. Our group discussion focused on how a company’s culture evolves with strategies, and how strong corporate cultures have an extraordinarily beneficial impact on performance.
My collective take from our discussion is that Culture is a defining difference for a company and it trumps Mission Statement—by a lot. More specifically, a culture that nurtures respect and engagement among colleagues within your company translates powerfully to customer service and satisfaction.
Culture emanates from the top, and most of those at the BMEN event were able to summarize their company culture in a few succinct words. We also acknowledged that most enterprises include a number of “mini-cultures” within the organization; none of these, however, compromise the overriding culture of the business. We shared stories of top performers who were fired because their success was overwhelmed by their lack of support for the company culture—a powerful message shared throughout the organization.
Flying home from our meeting, I got to thinking about club culture, and who sets and owns it. I expect that independent owners set and own the culture for their golf club(s), and golf management companies have a large role in their individual clubs’ culture—at ClubCorp, for example, culture at all properties revolves around Building Relationships and Enriching Lives.
What about at private clubs? Here, the Board makeup changes annually, with a new President usually in the chair every other year. Managers at many private clubs also come and go—stats from the Club Managers Association of America suggest that club managers typically change positions about every three years.
With this sort of turnover and attrition at the top, one can conclude that the club itself is the owner of its culture, and that the club leadership is primarily a custodian of that culture. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as that culture is well-defined, shared throughout the organization, and able to evolve as strategies change—think about the impact on culture, for example, if and when a club adopts a new commitment to a family orientation.
And it’s a pretty safe bet that a club manager who, along with his or her team, lives and breathes a well-defined culture will have a life expectancy in that position well beyond three years.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“The reason a pro tells you to keep your head down is so that you can’t see him laughing.”