The average person spends approximately 9 hours a day at work. For summer camp counselors, that number is substantially higher. With so much time spent at work each day, it can be difficult to remain motivated and excited. In order to keep your staff happy and more productive, you must have a strong organizational culture.
So what is “organizational culture?” Yes, it is one of those phrases people love to throw around when bragging about their office’s hip happy hour, but it’s so much more than that. Simply put, it’s an organization’s personality. This “personality” enables employees to make decisions consistent with the company’s priorities, goals, and mission without needing policies expressly defined. Culture forms in response to written and unwritten rules, as well as habits, values, assumptions, systems, and management styles, all of which have developed over the company’s lifetime.
When a strong culture exists, employees can react to situations appropriately, without wasting time consulting supervisors or rulebooks, because they are appropriately aligned with organizational values. This saves time. That saves money. And all of it makes your organization run more smoothly. When your counselors embody your camp’s values and create a strong community among themselves, campers feel more comfortable and welcome in their environment.
Conversely, when weak culture exists, campers are at a loss. Their primary point of contact with the organization—counselors—must act as a cohesive unit for campers to know what to expect or how to become completely comfortable. With weak culture, camp leadership controls counselors through rules and bureaucracy because no one is properly aligned with organizational values. In return, counselors seek to exert control over campers in the same manner. Instead of a fun and vibrant camp culture, it’s a mess of rules and unclear expectations.
In order to create the best camp environment possible, strong culture is a necessity.
When discussing the growth and development of organizational culture, Mike Lehr of Omega Z Advisors uses these four goals:
Establishing organizational culture is not about following a recipe to create something new. Whether you realize it or not, your organization already has a culture. Identifying what it is and where it stems from (the supervisor’s management style or from communal engagement) can help you better identify and relate with your current culture. At this point, decide whether your next move is to reinforce or change your culture.
If your current culture is appropriate for your organization, congratulations! You’re off to a great start, but you’re not done. Without reinforcement, even the best cultures can become corrupted. There are too many forces, internal (new employees, policy changes, communication errors, etc.) and external (competition, economic shifts, etc.), effecting your organization for its values to remain unchanged. Time invested supporting your organization’s culture will be well spent.
Before you begin changing your organizational culture, know one thing: it takes time. Culture cannot shift overnight. It forms because of everything an organization stands for and has stood for. History takes time to change. Make change apparent, comfortable, and then follow up. Accept feedback but be firm. Be reliable; consistency sells change, proving it legitimate.
When organizations merge, tensions arise. No matter how compatible their cultures may seem, change is uncomfortable especially when combined with the hostility or fear a merger often creates. The combination of two separate cultures will take time but, if handled correctly, will smooth over in time, creating a new culture for a new organization.
Organizational culture drives organizational success. It motivates employees and enables them to complete their jobs in a more passionate and efficient manner. Now that you know about culture, examine your organization’s and make a plan. Will yours thrive?
Camp Network provides online registration, website design, and marketing for camps, clinics, tournaments, and more. We work with some of the biggest universities and organizations in the country because we offer a quick, simple, and an extremely affordable solution. We automate the whole registration process so you and your staff can focus on running the event.