Positive Club Culture

How does your club’s culture affect volunteers?

A club's culture is made up of the values and beliefs of its members. A positive culture - where volunteers feel appreciated and supported - can help attract volunteers while a negative culture will do just the opposite. One of the challenges a club faces is creating a 'contributing' culture. This is where members take part in running the club rather than treating it as a service.

  • To understand how cultures can gradually emerge within an organisation, read the story of the Five Monkeys.
    • There once was a cage that contained five monkeys. Also inside the cage hung a banana on a string with a set of stairs beneath it. Before long, a monkey went up the stairs towards the banana. As soon as he touched the stairs, the other four monkeys were sprayed with cold water.

      After a while, another monkey approached the banana. When he reached the stairs, the other four monkeys were again sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when any of the monkeys climbed the stairs, the other monkeys tried to prevent it.

      Then the cold water was turned off and one monkey was removed from the cage and replaced with a new one. The new monkey saw the banana and attempted to climb the stairs. To his surprise, all of the other monkeys attacked him. After another attempt and attack, he knew that if he tried to climb the stairs he would be assaulted.

      Another of the original five monkeys was replaced with a new one. The newcomer went to the stairs and was attacked. The previous newcomer took part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Again, a third monkey was replaced with a newcomer. The new monkey made it to the stairs but was attacked.

      Two of the four monkeys that beat him had no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they were participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After the fourth and fifth original monkeys were replaced, all the monkeys that had been sprayed with cold water had been replaced.

      Nevertheless, none of the monkeys approached the stairs ever again. Why not? Because as far as they knew, that's the way it had always been around there.

      Author: Costas Markides

Club Culture Assessment

Is your club culture healthy? The key indicators below are in the Club Culture Assessment template for discussion with your committee.

  • Some key indicators that your club culture is healthy:
    • Most players stay for a few years.
    • Membership has increased or stayed the same during the past five years.
    • It is easy to get people to volunteer.
    • It is easy to get people to join the committee.
    • Committee members enjoy their role and remain involved for a number of years.
    • Committee meetings are efficient and effective.
    • Volunteers help for more than one season.
    • People support social functions.
    • People support fundraisers.
    • There are few (or no) harassment/abuse/conflict issues within the club.
    • Any issues are dealt with well.
    • Club policies are supported (e.g. participation).
    • Officials are respected and appreciated by most members.
    • The workload is spread between many people.
    • New people are made to feel welcome.
    • The committee knows why people leave the club or their volunteer role.
    • Our club is well respected in the wider community.

If your club culture is not healthy and change is needed, develop a Culture Change Plan.

If the responses from your Club Culture Assessment suggest that change is needed, a Culture Change Plan can help. While change - of any degree - can take a considerable amount of time, the key is to maintain broad and ongoing communication between your committee and members. Communication is pivotal in addressing and solving any issues.

Steps to making change happen:

  • Be aware of why change is needed.
    • Identify behaviours, perceptions and other things that need to change. Identify where the club currently is, where it wants to be and how it is going to get there. (Note: Explain the importance of volunteers within the club, why you are looking at the club's culture and the possibility of change within the club.)

  • Have the desire to make change.
    • If members understand the important role that volunteers play and acknowledge that a problem exists with the club's current culture, there should be a desire to make a change. However, most people don't like change so be sensitive to people's needs. The more you understand people's needs, the better you will be able to manage change.

  • Share knowledge.
    • Communicate with your members and listen to their concerns/suggestions about the proposed changes. Consultation is critical when making changes. Your members need to be empowered to suggest their own solutions and responses with support from the club's committee.

  • Create an ability to change.
    • Create an environment where members are supported to change and implement the strategies needed to make change happen. Change must be realistic, achievable and measurable. When making changes, consider what you want to achieve, why you want the change and how you will know that it has been achieved. Who is affected by this change and how will they react to it?

  • Reinforce the value of successful change.
    • This could include communicating how many new volunteers the club has gained or positive quotes from new volunteers.

Add to Action Plan  Action Plan Tips

Description: Create an Action Plan for your club:

• Click on suggested actions and send them directly to your Action Plan.
• Login in to modify/tailor your Action Plan.
• Save and revisit your plan.
• Share access with others.
• Keep track of completed tasks.
  • Develop strategies for assessing your club culture
  • Discuss the Club Culture Assessment with the committee
  • Create a survey to assess the culture of your club
  • Create a plan for promoting, conducting and reviewing the survey
  • Develop a culture change plan
  • View your Action Plan
  • Click to view Templates for this Section
  • Handbook Tips View Handbook contents page to download templates & information
    Description: Create a Volunteer Management Handbook for your club:

    • Download information or templates.
    • Select the entire handbook or specific sections or pages.
    • Modify/tailor the handbook to suit your club.
    • Use the handbook to store records.
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