How to build a positive club culture.

Written by Natalie Doyle

December 23, 2021

A group of tennis players with their hands in together

Much like when running a business, it’s important for a club to have a strong culture.  Have you ever stopped to think about whether your club has a culture?  If it does, is it the sort of culture you want it to have or does it need changing?

Unfortunately, a lot of us will have experienced negative cultures.  Maybe at work, sports, in friendship groups or relationships? I think many of you will be able to identify indicators of a negative culture and recognise how it makes you feel. So how do you create a positive culture within your club? I’m going to give you a few tips to get you started.

1. Identify your key values.

First of all, it’s important to recognise that a positive culture will look different to different people. Within your club, you need to identify who will input into shaping what you want your club culture to be.  It’s likely this will include your club committee. You could also include managers, coaches or player representatives, but be careful of involving too many voices at this stage, otherwise you might find you struggle to make decisions everyone is happy with. My recommendation would be to develop an initial plan with your committee and then take it to the other members of the club to consult on their views. Try and identify what they key values are of your club. These will vary from club to club – some might be more focused on performance; some will be about providing opportunities for everyone; hopefully enjoyment will be there for all clubs! Once you’ve identified these key values, you need to think about how to…

2. Embed these values throughout the club.

A culture only comes to life if you embed it throughout the club.  This means that every player, coach, manager, volunteer and parent needs to be aware of your culture and values and has bought into them.  So you need to think about how you embed the values throughout the club.  This will likely differ for existing members and new members. Perhaps you could run a club culture session with your members? You could make sure your values are displayed on your website, social media channels and at your club facility? Maybe when new players join you could give them a welcome pack that includes your club values and how you expect that to be demonstrated? For younger players, you could run a poster design competition focused on your club values? There are lots of ways to get creative with this!

3. Turning values into culture.

Values only become part of your club culture if you work hard to make them part of the fabric of your club. This means you need to be comfortable with calling out behaviour that goes against your club culture. You need to put processes in place for dealing with issues that arise, make sure all club committee members are aware of these processes and are comfortable with implementing them. Club culture needs to become something that you refer to regularly.  You can’t just choose your club values and then leave that piece of paper in a drawer never to be mentioned again!  The longer you work at this, the easier it can become.  It will become second nature for your members to call out negative behaviour and as they start to see the benefits of a strong club culture, they will continue to work to uphold that culture.

4. Reflect and review.

It is important to regularly reflect on how your club culture is developing over time. Make it a regular item on the agenda of your club committee meetings – is everyone happy with how we are upholding the culture of the club? Are there any improvements that could be made? Is it time to review our values or to run another culture session with the club members? Keep this work as an ever-evolving project.  It won’t always be easy but when you get the culture right, your club will thrive and enjoyment will be sky high!

If you need support developing club culture, then we can facilitate a session either for your club committee, or for all your club members, either face to face or online. Just drop us a message using the icon in the bottom right hand corner and we can discuss further.

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