February 19, 2020

90: Culture is Everything with Tristan White

Whether you’re leading a single team or an entire organization, you can’t deny that culture plays a critical role in your experience at work. The challenge is that culture is hard to design, cultivate, and sustain. It’s often the small things that make the most difference. So what can you do to shape a strong, healthy culture?

Tristan White is the founder & CEO of The Physio Co, a unique healthcare business that ranked #1 on BRW’s list of Australia’s 50 Best Places to Work in 2014. The Physio Co has ranked as one of Australia’s 50 Best Places to Work for ten consecutive years (2009-2018), along with being named one of the Best Workplaces in Asia from 2015-2018. Tristan is also the author of Culture Is Everything: The Story And System Of A Start-Up That Became Australia’s Best Place To Work.

Tristan and I talk about the four secrets to powerful culture that Tristan has learned over more than a decade of leading and growing his own company. We take a deep dive into execution and appreciation – how to do those to critical activities in alignment with your values whether your leading one team or an entire organization.

Read the related blog article: How To Design and Implement The Optimal Workplace Culture

Join the Modern Manager community to get a free digital e-book of Culture Is Everything so you can discover even more of Tristan’s insights into building a strong, healthy culture.

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  • Based on years of experience building his own company, Tristan developed the Culture is Everything system which is composed of four parts: (1) Discover the core, (2) Document the future, (3) Execute relentlessly, and (4) Show more love.
  • Discover the core is all about having a clear purpose for why the organization exists. It should be short and sharp.
  • In addition, it includes identifying three – five core values that describe how the team behaves. These should be action statements not just words or phrases.
  • Document the future focuses on creating a vision for where the business is headed. It starts with a 10-year Obsession – what we will achieve in ten years – which acts as the North star.
  • Create a 3-year Painted Picture Vision that is a stepping stone on the path to your 10-year Obsession. This enables you to start to see how you will get there in the long run and create an opportunity for celebration.
  • Execute relentlessly is when you live your purpose, values and vision. You must have a robust recruiting process that attracts (and retains) the right people.
  • Show more love is the final component which emphasizes the importance of leading humans by showing more love to your clients, team mates, and everyone around you.
  • When you hire and retain the wrong people, it’s very hard to sustain (or build) the culture you aspire towards.
  • Consider running a daily huddle as one way to keep your team connected to you and each other. Choose an unusual time for this meeting e.g. 9:27am and don’t let it run longer than 15 minutes. Ask two questions: What’s going on? Where are you stuck? And: nominate or share a story of one person who lived the core values.
  • Don’t try to solve the problems during the huddle – that happens after in a follow up with the people who are involved.
  • By sharing stories of people living the core values, we reinforce them, give praise and show love, and keep them top of mind for people.
  • Be connected to your team members so when something is going in their life outside of work, you know about it, or when their behavior is unusual, you recognize it. This way, you can be there to support them by letting them know you’re there to help if/when they want it.
  • Small acts can be really powerful. Include a budget to send flowers, handwritten cards, etc for special occasions and milestones, both joyful and sorrowful.
  • If you’re a virtual team, be sure to use video meetings in addition to a chat or texting app. Share pictures of your weekend activities, vacations, family, etc to help feel more connected to each other.


Twitter: @tristanjwhite

Instagram: @tristanjwhite

Facebook: facebook.com/tristanjwhite/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/whitetristan/

Website + special bonuses: https://www.tristanwhite.com.au/modernmanager/



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