When Culture Doesn’t Click (Part 3)

In the final installment of our “When Culture Doesn’t Click Series” we look at some steps that you can take after you have completed the analysis stage. Once you’ve taken the appropriate time to address the personal, relational, and public reasons of why the desired athletic culture isn’t taking hold in your athletic department, you need to begin to move forward.

Valuable things are worth fighting for, and desirable culture is not easily established. Now that you’ve geared up for the task and properly assessed your athletic department, let’s look at four point that will help you win the culture battle.


Re-Commit to Your Vision of Culture

This is the quickest point because it’s so simple. You’ve got to recommit to your culture personally. You need to make sure that it matters to you.

We would suggest writing down your culture definition and a few thoughts on why you know it’s important to your athletic department. Reference that paper or file regularly.

If your coaches are also aware of the sagging culture in your department, then have a meeting to discuss your plan of attack. Recommit them too.

The athletic department staff is the biggest tool in culture change!”

Determine that no matter the response, that you will keep fighting the positive athletic culture battle.


Re-Shape Your Culture Message

For whatever reason, the original message did not click with the people in your department. Athletes, coaches, and parents decided that they did not want to get on board. So for this reason, you need to re-shape the message.

Think about the language that you have used up until this point. Is it portraying the proper thought? Are you putting all of the emphasis on work that needs to be done by others? Or are you focusing on the team aspect of culture building?

The feeling of community is a powerful force in any organization. The great organizations, whether they be teams, businesses, or local churches, have an overwhelming sense of community.

A sense of community will help bring people together in your re-shaped culture.”

Re-shape your culture message to emphasize the community aspect. The language you use is very important.

Perception is reality in many cases.”

You need people to perceive that they are part of growing your athletic department; because they are! The language needs to reflect the culture that you desire. So many times we take for granted that everyone is on the same page as us. However, often that is not the case.


Re-Package Your Culture Product

You’re a salesman here. The best salesman can show people why they need something that they did not previously want or think that they need.

You’re not trying to trick anyone. You’re providing a valuable service. Athletes, coaches, and parents all benefit from positive athletic culture. Re-package the culture product so that they can see the benefits of buying in.

What in the world does “re-packaging the culture product” mean? I’m glad you asked; it does sound like boardroom mumbo jumbo. When we say re-shape the message, we mostly mean the language you use in your speech and communications.

Re-packaging the culture product refers to the physical manifestations of positive athletic department culture.”

We’d be lying if we didn’t say that a lot of this falls on your creativity as an AD. However, any way that you can show physical, visible improvements in culture will go along way. Here are some ideas:

  • videos and photos of the athletic culture you desire on social media
  • updating spirit and athletic wear, make it more professional and wearable
  • highlight the athletes, coaches, and parents that are“culture leaders” in your department (call them that too)
  • perform some “random acts of culture,” (there are so many great ideas here, but basically anything that shows people that you and others are invested)

Re-package your culture product. It didn’t click originally, so you’re going to have to step your game up.


Stay the Course

They say that “more is caught than taught.” We believe that to be a very true statement. You need to live out your culture everyday, in your classroom, in your office, at practice, in staff meetings.

You’re the ambassador of your culture; live it everyday.”

No matter what happens, stay the course! If you’re portraying and preaching the right message, eventually people will come around.

If you still get pushback the temptation will be to give up. You’ll feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle with no help. However, it usually is toughest right before it finally clicks.

Great athletic culture is carefully cultivated and must be meticulously manicured.”

Keep fighting. The Lord will reward your efforts. We’ve found that being an athletic director (much like anything) is a marathon not a sprint.

Again, if you have any ideas that would contribute to this topic. Please leave a comment. We don’t have all the answers. Many of you are much more experienced and have great ideas. Hit us up on twitter too!

Jeff is the athletic director at Victory Baptist Academy. He is also the founder and administrator of TheAthleticDirectors.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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