We knew it was easy to define culture — it’s the way we do things around here. While we believed we knew what our culture was, we had never spelled it out. We realized that it would be important to write it out to give us even greater clarity. To uncover our culture, we assembled a key group from our staff. Individually, we wrote down key words that we believed described our company. We then took turns reading one idea at a time as we went around the room. We wrote each word on a board. We came up with 53 different ideas of what defined our culture. We had to narrow it down to less than 10. That was a challenge, but eventually we got it down to six:
1. A learning and challenging environment that develops leaders.
2. An environment of teamwork.
3. A business that shows appreciation and reward for exceptional performance.
4. A place of continuous improvement.
5. A business that shares knowledge.
6. An uncommon level of commitment to our physical environment.
Core values are defined as intrinsic values of a business that won’t change, no matter what. Even if they cost us money, we still wouldn’t change them. For example, we would never lower the quality of our company to offer a cheaper product even if we could make more money by changing. Why? Because that’s not how we want to impact the world.
We followed the same process in defining our core values as we did with our culture. We started with 23 and worked on it until we found our four: integrity, hardworking, creators of our own future, and an extraordinary commitment to helping others. Then we moved to the last step of the process — we had the courage to describe all the great things that would happen at GHF over time as we accomplished our goals. It’s a fun experience determining your own future. The Envisioned Future included:
1. We will be recognized worldwide as a model company for improving the health of an entire community by making Gainesville the healthiest city in America.
2. We will be recognized as the industry leader in customer service.
3. We will gain a reputation for developing leaders.
4. People from all over the world will visit us to learn about best practices.
5. We will develop a center for professional management training where businesses from all over the world send their staff to learn about our systems.
6. We will form strategic alliances with local and national organizations.
7. A best-selling book will be written about our business.
8. We will win a national business award.
9. We will be on the cover of a leading business magazine as one of the best companies in the world.
The fun part was spending the next 10 years accomplishing everything on the list!
Shawn Stewart is the Operations Manager at Gainesville Health and Fitness Center. Contact him at email@example.com