Let’s Talk About Culture (WT522)

Let’s Talk About Culture (WT522)


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?

It’s Reception (WT482)

It’s Reception (WT482)


WT482 It's Reception

The phone rang.

“Hi Shirley, it’s Reception. Are you guys extending over the long weekend?”

I had no idea who Reception was, nor to what she was referring. 

I had to ask her, “Reception. Reception from where?” 

She didn’t give me the answer I was looking for. 

“Are you guys extending over the long weekend?” she repeated.

My mind was racing.

What reception? What about the long weekend?

Then it suddenly dawned on me. She was the receptionist at the caravan park we were staying at.

I was working onsite at a client’s premises and normally wouldn’t have even answered the phone, however I had forgotten to turn it to silent.

I realised she must have thought that I was sitting around in the caravan park and of course I would know who and what Reception was.

Wow! Talk about lack of communication and automatic listening. I was making up all sorts of things in my mind to explain this situation.

I couldn’t help but think that a little (or a lot) of phone technique or scripting was needed.

How about something like, “Good morning, I’m Julia calling from Your Favourite Caravan Park. I’m ringing to confirm whether you are planning on extending your stay to include the long weekend.”

If she had introduced herself, the company and reason for the call, it would have prevented my negative reaction, anxiety, confusion and anger.

Your customer doesn’t always know who you are or why you are calling. Your customer doesn’t always understand what you’re talking about or trying to communicate.

Here’s your action for this week: 

  1. Discuss how you would have reacted if you received the introduction I did from Reception?
  1. Discuss how your Receptionist would have handled the call?
  1. Review your policies and procedures and make sure you have your standard scripts documented. 
  1. Train and support your people.

Your business’ reputation is far more valuable than simply being referred to as  “Reception”. 

Your Manner Matters (WT476)

Your Manner Matters (WT476)


WT476 Your Manner Matters

Firstly, I want to say that I am not complaining and this isn’t a rant. Rather, the goal for the stories in this week’s thought is to remind us of the importance of our manner and the impact it can have – both positive and negative. 

Here we go:

As we’ve been travelling around Far North Queensland we’ve been staying in a mix of caravan parks, national parks and free campsites. We generally only plan our itinerary a few days in advance and mostly call a prospective caravan park a few hours before we intend to arrive.

We got caught out a few times, booking and paying in advance, only to arrive and find the park was awful, so we made a rule, policy or guideline, whatever you want to call it, that says “We can enquire on the way, but not book in and pay until we’ve seen the site”.

On a couple of occasions, we’ve made the decision not to even look at a park because of the manner of the receptionist.

Here’s an example of an enquiry:

“Hello, could you please tell me if you have any sites for a motorhome for tonight please?”

“How big is the motorhome?”

“About 25 feet.”

“Have you got slide outs?”


“You’re sure you’ve got no slide outs?”


“How many nights are you staying?”

“Just the one please?”

“You’re sure it’s just one night?”

And on the conversation went until an exasperated Ross ended the call.

Turning to me, he announced, “We won’t be staying there!”

His next phone call was completely different.

“Sure we’ve got sites. Just come around when you get into town and we’ll show you what we have.”

When we arrived, the lady was extremely hospitable and gracious. She walked us around the caravan park, pointing out the various sites and inviting us to choose the one that suited us.

When we were leaving, having extended our stay by a few days, she came out of the office and thanked us for staying with them and invited us to return.

Your manner makes all the difference.

It can win or lose you business and you may not even be aware of it.

Could you say you are confident that your team are winning you business?

Is it Lack of Care or Lack of Training (WT450)

Is it Lack of Care or Lack of Training (WT450)


WT500 Make Me Feel Welcome

How we communicate in business and in life determines the results we get.

As leaders, it’s our job to ensure that we train our teams to support them to do their work.

This week I found myself reflecting on some communication I experienced with a property officer. 

As we prepare to move out, ready for our next big adventure in our motorhome, I asked if we needed to do anything to apply for our bond. We had been leasing premises in Newcastle since our return from the USA because we still had a goal of travelling.

I was stunned at the response I received. “No, we will release the bond to you once we are happy with the property.”

Wow! I reacted to this. Am I being too sensitive?  

On another occasion she informed me that I had to ensure that when she came to do the final inspection, that the property had to be brought back to the condition that it was in when we moved in.

“Really. Excuse me.”

I couldn’t believe I was hearing this.

I felt like I was being treated like someone who had trashed the house.

Was it lack of care on her part, or lack of training?

Her communication did nothing to foster a good relationship with me and I certainly wouldn’t recommend that company.

As it turns out, her boss, a director of the company will be conducting the final inspection which will give me the opportunity to provide feedback.

Thinking about your workplace, are you aware of the communication between your people and your customers? Are you confident that the communication follows your policies and procedures? Have you trained your people? What would your customers say about their interaction with your people?

Would they be wondering if it’s lack of care or lack of training?

But I’m Here Now (WT433)

But I’m Here Now (WT433)


WT 433 But i'm here now

Doug was looking for work. 

He noticed a sandwich board in front of a labour hire business. It listed some positions that could use his skills and experience.

He went inside.

He spoke to a young girl who was pleasant enough.

“I’m interested to know more about the positions and apply please”, he said.

“Have you got a resume?” she asked.


“Just go online and you can apply there”, she answered.

“But, I’m here now”, he replied.

“Yes, but we process all the applications online. You have to apply online.”

Doug was dumbfounded.

“Why would they go to the trouble of advertising positions on a sandwich board, in front of their office?” he thought to himself.

He didn’t know what to say.

He tried again to tell her about his experience and what he was looking for, to which she replied, “Oh, we have those positions available, too. Just go online and you’ll find them and submit your application.”

And with that, Doug was dismissed.

Doug shared his story with Ross, who shared it with me, and I’m sharing it with you.

As I write this, I am shaking my head.

What happened to people communicating?

What happened to being interested in helping people?

I couldn’t help but think about the employer who had engaged the labour hire company to find people. One of the jobs supposedly had an immediate start.

How much longer will the process now take, assuming that Doug did actually go home and submit his application online? Or maybe he just decided to forget about it. After all, if he did get the position, how well would he be treated?

I wonder. Is it me? Am I just getting old and grumpy or is there something wrong with this process?

Let me know what you think and as always, I encourage you to look at your business and front of house operations. How are your customers and prospective customers being treated?

Is it time you did a secret audit to find out?

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