There’s a quick way John Spence can tell if an organization’s culture is effective: Are people smiling when they get to work? Are people actually happy to be there? 

It may sound a little strange — after all, it can be incredibly easy to get caught up in the day to day: There are emails to answer, meetings to attend and goals to hit — but Spence believes the culture of an organization is one of the most important things a leader must maintain. Creating an effective, productive culture isn’t a one-time project; it requires constant attention. 

And here’s the thing: You already have a workplace culture. Is yours working for you, or is it working against you? 

As Spence, who joins AssociationSuccess.org as a keynote speaker during SURGE Growth from Nov. 6-8, will tell you, “Culture equals cash.” 

“No matter how you look at it, taking good care of your employees so that they can take good care of your customers is a brilliant business decision,” he writes in his 2009 book “Awesomely Simple.” 

The culture of an organization isn’t about whether you have weekly Bingo nights or stock the fridge with free sparkling water. It’s about “the written and unwritten rules of behavior, teamwork, values, ethics, and priorities that permeate an organization,” Spence wrote. These are the things that help drive your staff to work together and to put the organization and its members first. As an organization grows, or looks to grow, being intentional about culture will make sure that your staff is all heading in the same direction together. 

While there’s plenty of research to show intentional culture management boosts revenues, one of the key benefits is that a productive company culture helps retain talent. As Spence wrote, “happy talent attracts more talent.” 

And creating this intentional environment shouldn’t be expensive. While it might take some time to sit down and think through its core elements, doing so is free. 

“It does not cost a dime to treat people with more respect, to empower them, to try to have mroe open and honest communication and fun at work every day,” Spence wrote.

So, how do you do it? 

Spence points to three key elements in creating a Culture by Design, rather than a Culture by Default: 

Purpose: Why an organization exists

Values: Acceptable behaviors, how the members of an organization work together

Envisioned Future: An organization’s agreed-upon near-, mid- and long-term goals

We’ll talk more about creating a cultural transformation during SURGE Growth. If you haven’t already, you can register for this free virtual conference designed just for association professionals. Join us Nov. 6-8! 

Chelsea Brasted is the writer and editor who serves as content manager for AssociationSuccess.org. A former reporter and breaking news editor for The Times-Picayune, she lives in New Orleans with her husband and two rescue dogs.

Chelsea Brasted is the writer and editor who serves as content manager for AssociationSuccess.org. A former reporter and breaking news editor for The Times-Picayune, she lives in New Orleans with her husband and two rescue dogs.

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