By DSOA Studio Growth Coach, Jane Grech.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve started to be known as “the culture girl” as for many of the leadership questions I have asked of me, culture is the answer. Yes, culture is (almost) everything!
The way we doing things around here
Your studio has a culture, whether you realise it or not. Culture is the underlying values, rules or assumptions that govern the behaviour of your students, parents and team members. Put simply, culture is “the way we do things around here.”
A Culture by design or by default?
When it comes to creating a culture, you have two choices, one created by default or one created by design. A culture created by default is one that is left to chance, it is haphazard and lacks direction. It’s often fraught with conflict, misunderstandings and confusion around expectations. A culture by design is well thought out and intentional. The dance studio owner is the CEO of culture and should carefully consider how people feel when they are at the studio, and what they feel about the studio.
Values are the foundation
Essential for creating a culture by design are Core Values, which help provide clarity on what people can expect from your organisation, and what you expect from them. Values truly are the foundation of your culture so be unapologetically proud of them.
It is not enough to simply ‘have’ values though– your daily actions and behaviours must be in complete alignment – after all, actions speak louder than words.
To help you intentionally build the culture within your studio I have compiled a list of simple ‘culture builders’ that you can implement easily. [Note all the activities listed assume you are already a values led organisation. If you haven’t decided on values, this needs to be your first step.
Culture builders for Studio Owners
- When you are unsure about any decision, refer to your values. When values are clear, decisions are easy.
- Resolve conflicts or address negative behaviour (from team, students, or parents) using values as guide. As the leader, protecting your culture is your main responsibility, although it will take courage.
Culture builders for potential customers
When you advertise your values you are more likely to attract your ideal customer, which in turn, reduces conflict. It helps customers decide if you are the right studio for them, and provides them some insight into how they can expect to be treated by you. Be sure you reference your values:
- On your websites
- In any marketing collateral, printed or online
- Through the testimonials or stories you choose to share. Pick stories that support your values rather than vague “we love it here” statements.
Culture builders for current customers
- If you have waiting or public facing areas, be sure to display your values through posters and pictures
- Reference your values and how you honour them in your everyday activities. For example if ‘community’ is a value, share pictures of a performance at a community fete and remind customers that this performance honour your values.
- Remind customers of your values through every communication touch point. Examples are referring to them through social media posts, email sign off and in your newsletters.
Culture builders for potential team members
- Share your values with potential team members and be unapologetic about your expectations. Remember, your studio values will not suit everyone, and that’s ok.
- Ask interview questions which require candidates to answer questions that directly address your values to assist you in recruiting team member that are aligned with your organisation.
Culture builders for existing team members
- Ensure values are referenced at every professional development session. Remind your team of their importance and how they act as your true north, guiding every decision you make.
- Consider asking your team members to mind map your values, asking them to share ways they can truly live them through their everyday actions in their roles.
- Create Position Descriptions and Key Performance Indicators based on your values to provide clarity to your team regarding your expectations.
- Use values to address poor behaviour or poor performance. Values are an effective way to hold people accountable as you can focus on the behaviour rather than the person.
- Motivate your team through creating Awards on team members who truly live the values.
- Ask team members to share stories with each other of times they have witnessed students or other team members living the values to the fullest.
- Values can remind team members of the importance of various activities, such as how attendance at a training session honours a value of Continuous Improvement, or how being punctual to work honours a value of Respect.
Culture builders for students
- Have teachers reference the values when guiding behaviour, remind them ‘how we do things here’
- Offer student awards based on demonstrating alignment with values
- Offering additional social activities such as Halloween parties or movie nights that support the community you aim to build
Hopefully by reading this list you have some easy to implement ideas to help you be more intentional, and less accidental about creating your culture, and with that, creating the studio of your dreams!
Jane Grech is the author of Dance Studio Success as well as the owner of the Jane Grech Dance Centre in Adelaide. She is also a loving wife, mother of 3 gorgeous children and our DSOA resident expert when it comes to studio culture and leadership.
Join Jane and our vibrant community inside the Dance Studio Owners Association – click here to find out about all the DSOA!