Camp Culture undermines The Empire

If you’re in business, you can’t escape the culture discussion, but I want to warn you about a culture that can creep in right under your nose and undermine all your plans.  It’s toxic, and I call it camp culture.

Have you ever been to summer camp as a kid? You make new friends. You have no responsibilities.  You can choose to participate in activities or not because the counselors can’t make you. It’s fun, and the food is not bad, and you get to eat off those funny plastic dishes. Camp life is good, right? No parents, fewer rules. It’s all about having a good time. Does this sound like the kind of company culture you want?

Hopefully, you said, “Hell NO!”

Good. Unfortunately, when we, the Empire Builder, are not purposely creating a culture of success, this one can creep in the backdoor because every business has a culture, whether planned or not.

Culture KPI lessons from CEO Tools 2.0

Every successful Empire Builder has Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), a fancy way of saying they measure the performance of their people. WGMGD – What Gets Measured Gets Done. Conversely, what’s goes unmeasured has no hope. Unfortunately, no KPIs equals no accountability, which breeds camp culture.

[Read chapter three of CEO Tools 2.0 for more info.]

As soon as you implement KPI’s and measurements, some campers will rebel. “This is unfair.” or “I’m not sure I can do that.” is what they might say as you introduce a culture of measurement that rewards performance.  Yes, some of your campers will leave you and go home to mommy because now they have work.

That person that you thought was great might be the anchor that was holding you back. But, unfortunately, not every employee is interested in growing and helping you achieve your vision, and some want to get a paycheck for showing up. To eradicate a camp culture, you will have to fire camp counselors and campers and replace them with performers. And performers need a system to measure themselves.

The quickest way to change your culture is to add measurement. But, this will cause turbulence until you have sent the counselors and campers packing and replaced them with the high performers you need.

Gary Bernier
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