Maintaining your culture during rapid growth

Growing pains. They happen in business all the time

Maintaining your culture during rapid growth

Growing pains. They happen in business all the time. Growth and success can be accompanied by challenges to meet demand, maintain customer service and keep the company running just the way it always has.

During periods of rapid growth or restructuring, it’s critical to keep team members happy and engaged while recruiting and training talented new employees. It can feel like a juggling act.

GoodLife Fitness has been in rapid expansion mode, growing from 50 clubs in 2000 to 375+ locations in 10 provinces over 17 years. In 2014, GoodLife Fitness also launched its low-cost club model, Fit4Less by GoodLife, so we moved to operating two brands while maintaining a consistent culture.

Keep your vision front and centre

During transition, it’s always good to return to the fundamental reason you started the company. At GoodLife Fitness, our mission has always been to give every Canadian the opportunity to live a fit and healthy good life. We exist to help people embrace physical activity and enjoy healthier, longer lives. This common vision permeates everything we do – across our brands, in our daily work and in all parts of the company.

In business, it’s easy to be pre-occupied with the WHAT of the organization. We attend meetings, do our work, make plans and focus on results. But, the real results come when we step back and look at our true purpose. If the company’s WHY is clear and consistent, it’s easy for people with a similar drive and focus to be attracted to the organization and stay because they love their work. If the WHY isn’t consistent or clear, the opposite will happen. When people believe in the dream, they work for the passion, not the pay cheque.

When someone in our accounting department, a group fitness instructor, or a member of the Fit4Less club maintenance team comes to work in the morning, we want them to think of this larger purpose. Everything we do at GoodLife Fitness AND Fit4Less by GoodLife contributes to a fitter, healthier Canada. This drives engagement, accountability and productivity and it helps reinforce company culture.

As the company grows and diversifies, it’s more important than ever to keep your WHY at the forefront of decisions. The senior management team are the keepers of this vision, responsible for maintaining company-wide focus on core values.

Be transparent, involve the team

To keep team members engaged, look for ways to paint a picture of the positive future. Create a vision of what you want to achieve and work to get everyone aligned to work toward this goal.

Build in opportunities for team member feedback – regular touchpoints where people can share and exchange ideas.  Always remind team members that their work is valued and contributes directly to the vision of the company.

GoodLife Fitness uses performance appraisals and goal setting as opportunities to ask each associate to elaborate on their own personal WHY and how it connects with what they do at work every day. By connecting day-to-day responsibilities to a larger purpose, associates see the significance of their work, they stay focused on a common goal and their energy translates into a positive, high energy club experience.

There are two GoodLife Fitness associates sharing how the company’s vision translates to their daily jobs.

“The most rewarding part is helping people achieve what they think they could. My greatest accomplishment as a personal trainer is when you see the positive effects of your client becoming fitter and healthier trickle down to their families.” Nsuani, Personal Trainer

“I give people hope and inspiration that no matter what happens in your life, you can persevere with health and fitness.” Laureine, Associate Information Systems Specialist

Communicate clearly and often

The leadership team meets regularly with teams across Canada to review our WHY and reframe it in the evolving context of our associates, input from members, the fitness industry and Canadian demographics.

Team members are encouraged to suggest improvements, ask questions and provide feedback to improve the fitness clubs, deliver a better member experience and improve the work environment. Working together toward continuous improvement builds connection and engagement.

As you grow, aim for diversity

There is a temptation to hire people who are just like your existing team members, but studies show diverse teams are more effective. A team built from people with a variety of personalities and skills creates a different energy. There are more opinions and perspectives to navigate, but this teaches people to adapt to different work styles. They learn from others’ expertise and have a chance to embrace team strengths. The result? Diverse teams make better decisions which generate greater success.

Business is constantly changing and there is always a shift in the organizational culture. The key is to commit to the changes that matter most and return to the essential values that make your business unique and successful.


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