How to Strengthen Your Business' Core: The Culture Muscle


Strong and fit is the new sexy. In much the same way for business, culture is the new sexy. As the Merriam-Webster word of the year in 2014, “culture” has got businesses everywhere scrambling. All of a sudden, businesses are trying to ‘do’ culture full tilt. The problem is that in many cases, businesses are rushing headlong into ‘doing’ culture with no forethought or long term system planning into exactly what culture is, or how to build it, for example simply installing nap pods or foosball tables is not going to fix any issues if the workers are stressed out and always on the clock.

 

The same way that you don’t just wake up one day, get out of bed and go run a marathon, businesses cannot just start ‘doing’ culture. Creating an effective and relevant culture within a business is no different from achieving a fitness goal. Both require consistency, structure, and dedication.

A strong core is essential to a strong body and your culture muscle is essentially the core of your business; this excerpt from a Harvard Health article perfectly underpins the benefits of a strong core:

“Think of your core muscles as the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body... No matter where motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of the chain. Thus, weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function. And that saps power from many of the moves you make. Properly building up your core cranks up the power. A strong core also enhances balance and stability. Thus, it can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities. In fact, a strong, flexible core underpins almost everything you do”

Defining, forming and strengthening your culture muscle more closely resembles a frequent training regimen than a walk in the park. Building a strong culture muscle resembles a frequent training program in that you need to use the muscle often and effectively in order to build it. Until you truly push the muscle, you will not know how strong it really is and what it is capable of. As with any fitness journey, building your culture muscle requires dedication and commitment. Don’t worry too much about the hard work required because much the same as the endorphin release at the end of a great workout, working in an organisation with a great culture makes coming back each day that much more appealing. Looking at culture as a muscle allows us to put into perspective how organizations can make strides towards achieving great company culture.

Muscles require regular work, or they will atrophy

When dedicated to building muscle, unless you are exercising regularly and effectively - you are fighting a losing battle. One weightlifting session will not get you the strong and defined core you’re after, nor will two. You need a training program of regular weightlifting that adapts and iterates to what you need and when.  You need consistency, you cannot build a strong and durable culture muscle without regularly working on it. If you dedicate a month to working on your culture muscle and go in, full tilt for that month, your culture may look and feel great at the end of that month. But if you then sit back and think, ‘our work here is done’, you can be sure that your culture muscle will atrophy.  

Building strong muscles takes time. Maintaining strong muscles requires a perspective shift.

You won’t see results overnight. The whole process will take a good while, but as you progress further down the path of building your culture muscle you will start to notice small differences, you may feel stronger, have more energy, you will likely feel less stressed and directionless.  These indicators of progress are all the fuel you need to keep working on that culture muscle. Once you reach your core definition destination you need a change of perspective. You need to shift from muscle building mode, to focus on maintaining the muscle that you have built.

Remaining in building mode for too long can cause the muscle to become injured or fatigued from overwork. Constant building, especially if it is always the same method, can become boring, kill motivation and cause burnout. Focusing on, and working on your culture muscle needs to become a lifestyle based on regular exercise. It is vital to have a clear goal that will help to maintain the balance of building and maintaining.

Feed your culture muscle the good stuff

You need to give your culture muscle the fuel that it needs to grow strong, the right way. Injecting your culture muscle with ‘steroids’ or anything too unnatural may make the muscle look and feel good, for now. Beware - this is a false positive as your muscles will become dependent on the ‘fake-stuff’.  Taking shortcuts is never recommended. The only way to get truly fit and toned, is through consistency and dedication, mechanical simulation is required to build muscle, no amount of ‘supplements’ can replace hard work.

That incredible feeling of definition and strength

Once your culture muscle is strong, and well defined you will feel great. By the time you reach this stage exercising your culture muscle will have become your way of life and there is very little chance you will regret it. A strong culture muscle, much the same as a strong core will ensure that all movements are properly guided and give your organisation invaluable balance and stability.

Culture fitness training program tips and tricks

When it comes to starting on the ‘culture fitness’ journey here are a few things to help ensure that you start the right way and ensure success down the line.

Define the objectives

  • Be sure to know exactly what the ‘victory condition’ looks like. If you have a solid grasp on where you are going, it is a lot easier to strive towards it.
  • Ask yourself - Why are we doing this?

Plan your training

  • Stay realistic - often when embarking on any form of ‘fitness’ journey we like to start out at full steam and all too often, we burn out quickly.
  • Plan your ‘culture workouts’ effectively and ensure that when you commit, you fully commit.

Be present when training

  • Truly beneficial training requires concentration and full presence of mind.

When you lose motivation - remember the objectives and why you started

Building a strong culture muscle is a lot of work, but it is the foundation of great things. Put in the effort, work on it consistently and you will reap the rewards. Remember that the culture muscle is the core of everything. And a strong core makes for a strong body.


Interested in learning about how Delivering Happiness can help your company to strengthen its core? Schedule an initial consultation with a member of the Delivering Happiness team now:

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About Andrea Golding

Andrea Golding

A firm believer that 'Happy People Work Harder," Andy is driving the movement towards great company culture in South Africa, helping companies become Companies Behaving Awesomely. Building up the business case for great culture is core to her objective, which means she gets to spend a lot of time with Companies (already) Behaving Awesomely, drawing out their juiciest insights. Whilst her focus is in South Africa at the moment, she's also busy with a Diploma in Spanish and a plan to take her work into other parts of the world in the not too distant future. As a sports fan and semi-adrenalin junkie, any free time not buried in books, is split between dancing (Hip-Hop and Salsa), Ultimate Frisbee, Yoga, and Krav Maga, as well as a recently discovered intrigue for rock-climbing. As you may have figured, she draws her inspiration from a pretty wide base!

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