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Live from NEHRSA/IHRSA: Creating a Dynamic Company Culture 

Close to 200 exhibitors and attendees filled the conference rooms and trade show today at the two-day NEHRSA/IHRSA Fall Conference & Trade Show at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT. Attendees benefited from educational sessions on topics ranging from sales and retention to group training and consumer trends.

During his two-hour roundtable titled Creating a Dynamic Company Culture at Your Club, Michael Combes, vice president of operations at Midtown Health in Chicago, IL, noted that it’s tough to define culture. Organizational culture can perhaps best be defined as your company’s distinct personality. Club leaders have so many roles: marketing, sales, human resources, payroll, facilities, budget development, etc. You need to do all of this and create a dynamic company culture at the same time.

Combes shared his ten keys to building a strong company culture:

  1. Perseverance: It’s not going to happen overnight.
  2. Consistency: Finish what you start. Some changes will be needed but if there are too many, people won’t buy in because they will think the plan will change soon yet again.
  3. Tough love:  Have some heart-to-heart talks with people who are having issues. Some people will need bad evaluations or even firing.
  4. Invest in your team: Constant coaching, mentoring, and encouraging—meet one-on-one with your direct reports weekly or monthly.
  5. Reduce drama: Clubs are a magnet for drama. The best way to deal with drama is usually not to play into it. It drains everyone’s time. Ignore it unless it’s a real issue, such as harassment. Some people will just dislike one another and that is fine.
  6. Eliminate energy suckers:  Every club has these employees. Go through proper HR channels, and get rid of them if you need to. At least start the discussion and be honest. Most people don’t want to be that way. They may not even realize how they are being perceived.
  7. Live the culture you desire: “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” Practice what you preach.
  8. Get everybody rowing in the same direction:  This is perhaps the most difficult task of all.
  9. Have the courage to fail:  In the words of Wayne Gretsky, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take.
  10. Dare to lead:  It’s lonely at the top. All of us here today are leaders. You’re making decisions that are unpopular, and not everyone is cut out for that.


Reader Comments (1)

Great advice!
November 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJay Ablondi

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