Creating a culture

There are certain times for a coach when you have the opportunity to amend or create a new culture within your team or club. For example in the beginning of the new season after an extensive break or possibly if you’re hired in the middle of the season.

Culture is how your players and staff are expected to behave which of course is influenced by many different factors. Personality, beliefs, history and expectations are just some examples of things that influence your team culture.

When you are starting fresh you have the opportunity to impact the normative behaviors that are the base of your team culture. Since norms are expected behaviors in a certain context you as the coach have a big influence of what these norms will be.

Many coaches are not aware of the fact that if you allow something to happen a couple of times, all of a sudden, that something will become the norm for your players and it will start happening all the time.

The result is often that you as the coach are in the middle of the season wondering how did it come to this? You had no intention of creating a culture where your players behave in the ‘unacceptable’ way they now behave – but it’s too late – you just have to manage this mess.

As mentioned, your best chance of creating the culture you want is when you first meet your players and staff. Set the bar high from the beginning and the rest will become easier.

Sounds simple enough, but what is most important for me as the coach to think about in the beginning to create the culture I want?

If you want to increase the chance of creating the culture you want the first thing you need to do is clarify what rules or standards that will create the behaviors you want. Imagine how your players and your staff behave in your ‘dream culture’ and reverse engineer it.

For your players to behave like X, what norms should be put in place in your team? What type of rules or standards will incentivize the players to show behavior X? If you have rule or standard Y, will that incentivize your players and staff members to behave like X or will they do something else?

Having a set of rules and/or standards that you hold your players and staff accountable to will undoubtedly influence their behavior and hence the culture of your team.

How many rules/standards you should have will depend on your external factors, just make sure you incentivize the behaviors you want without being too explicit about it. You don’t want you players and staff to feel like they’re in prison.

After figuring out what rules and/or standards you need to implement to create the culture you want you need to be consistent in enforcing them. Rules that are not enforced are no longer a rule and standards that are not longer demanded will never be met.

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