WT522 Let’s Talk About Culture

I’m curious. What’s your definition of culture in the workplace?

Who do you think is responsible for culture?

Do you think culture is important?

Can you change it?

These questions and more came up for me as I attended yet another hair salon on my travels.

Overall hairdressers/hair stylists perform the same tasks wherever I go and I have to say, since COVID-19, I am eternally grateful for hairdressers. One round of Ross colouring my hair was enough for both of us.

Anyway, we digress. Let’s get back to the tasks performed in a salon. In my case, that’s a cut, colour, some highlights and a wash/shampoo and dry.

Even the terminology used changes according to where you go.

Today I walked to the salon for my appointment, only to find a stylist inside with another client and a “Closed” sign on the door. I didn’t push on the door because I read the sign. The stylist reluctantly came over, flipped the sign to “Open” and opened the unlocked door (like I was supposed to know it was unlocked).

In most salons I’ve been to, someone takes your coat. There was no one to greet me. “Sit over in that chair, 2 stations away”. I took my coat off and stood. I didn’t know what to do with my coat.

Another stylist came rushing through the door. The phone rang. She answered it. I stood holding my coat. I asked if there was somewhere I could hang my coat. She grimaced, took the coat and went and hung it on the rack at the front near the door. (I hadn’t noticed it when I walked in.)

She was my stylist. I did my best to find a way to confirm her name. “Are you Maree or is it Maria?” I asked. “Maree,” she answered (not her real name). She didn’t bother to confirm my name.

I did my best to make polite small talk. By this stage I wasn’t very interested myself. I looked around the salon. There was no artwork or colour or even posters of glamourous models with beautiful hair and makeup. “Oh well, that’s her choice,” I thought to myself. “After all, she is the owner.”

Colour and highlights applied, it was time to wait. No covers for the arms on my glasses. No offer for water, tea or coffee, etc. and certainly no champagne, wine or chocolates. Sigh.

Time to shampoo the hair. No lay down comfy chairs here. No cotton wool for the ears, rather two lumpy hard scrunched up tissues.

Now I was really thinking about culture and all the different salons I’ve been to in the past few years, both in Australia and America.

Same jobs, different people, different culture.

My definition of culture is, “This is the way we do things around here.”

I also believe everyone in the organisation is responsible for culture. Sure management can determine the culture, however, team members also need to be on board.

Culture is also a feeling, an energy, a vibe you get when you go somewhere. In some salons I’ve been welcomed in, made to feel like royalty and felt like a million dollars when I left. I’ve felt like I mattered and the team cared.

Sadly, that’s not the case in all salons.

What’s it like in your workplace?

How would you describe your culture and more importantly, how would your customers describe it?

In fact, your culture is what attracts and retains your customers.

Who do you want to attract?

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