A reflection on Culture

A reflection on culture

Reaching the end of the year, and provided that one’s batteries are not completely flat - I like to take a moment and reflect on the year that has been. So off I started, covering what we had achieved (new centre, new teams, new families, additional farm school day and so on) and got to the bit where I was assessing how it was all going. It caused me to stop, take a moment and refocus. I have always been interested in team culture and what drives and makes a successful team, organisation or business. To me it has always seemed pretty straight forward – it’s all about culture. Those “soft”, hard to measure skills in an organisation that don’t make it onto the financial spread sheets that we tend to measure a business’s worth or success by. So here is a "crack" at covering off what our team culture is all about!

I believe that an indicator of the health of a culture is the degree of churn (staff turnover) in an organisation. We have been very fortunate to have low churn in the past 5 years. I have been pondering whether our situation has arisen through good fortune or good management. Not being one to gloat about our successes or to put myself out there publicly, I have been reluctant to put pen to paper on this. But 5 years down the track I am gaining a quiet confidence that “what we do” and “why we do it” are a winning combination. This has been confirmed by a number of conversations with people I respect both within the sector and out of it. This confidence has led me to believe that we here by good management (with a splash or two or good fortune for good measure!).

At the heart of Gems Management is our culture, and as you know they say culture eats strategy! Without our strong culture none of our Strategic Management Plans would be put to into action. Gems culture is driven by our core values  being - natural, respectful, supportive, nurturing and relationships, and is led by our leadership team. These core values aren't just a set of catchy words that sit on the toilet wall somewhere - these are visible in our everyday practices and environment.

Our leaders embody these values and we believe that this flows through to our team, families and children. Sitting here tapping the keyboard in my home office on the farm my mind is being flooded with examples of everyday acts these values are embodied in - the supportive family-like way our team develop relationships with each other, and our families, the everyday respectful way that we communicate with each other, our commitment to all things natural and the natural world, and walking our talk. I strongly believe that it is these values and the culture we have developed that fundamentally keep our people with us, and attracts the best people to us. Don't get me wrong - we are only human and we will have days where we won't necessarily be on our "A" game, but just like parenting so long as we are on our "A" game for 90% of the time we are doing pretty blinking good! 

How have we achieved this? Through the following: 

  • Primarily by having a leadership team that has significant buy in to "our way" - our values and our vision.

  • Secondly - we take our time recruiting. We make sure that we employ the right fit for the team and the organisation as a whole. This has at times proved painful as often management and relievers have to cover until we find the right people.

  • Thirdly - we know our people, we talk (a lot), we socialise together, we celebrate, commiserate, grieve and share all those other human emotions with our people. Our parents consistently note that there is a family like feel with the team, this to me is testament to the above.

  • Fourthly - we share our vision with the team - we have a growth plan and we share where we are heading, what we are wanting to do, what opportunities for growth and development exist for individuals and the organisation in the future.

Our key learning's from all of the above is that a focus on culture and values can and will increase loyalty and improve performance in any organisation.

So heading into Christmas and New Year 2018 (ready for a break!) I am pretty darned excited about what lies ahead. We have some magnificent people in our organisation with real potential, we are in great heart. Get ready to shine in 2018 folks. 

Merry Christmas,