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Four steps to creating a culture that lasts. The role of the leader or senior management is to act as a governing force in the creation and maintaining of the organizational culture. The leader needs to create a culture otherwise it will create itself!

First, create a mission, vision statement and core values. For example my company’s mission: “HAMFLAP was created for one purpose-to instill the principles of fun and laughter throughout the business world; while creating superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation and partnerships.” When creating the mission I asked myself where I wanted the company to go and to what I wanted us to adhere. This set the initial direction. Next I needed the staff to see the mission and make it visible and explain exactly what it meant to us within our staff meetings.

In addition, the mission, or vision statement and core values need to be posted on the website and within the office. Allow your employees to help with the creation process. This creates buy-in and makes it their own. For example, my company’s values came through a collaborative effort: Innovative, Creative, Professional, Inspiring, Compassionate, Leaders, Dedicated and Committed. After getting your core values figured out broadcast them on some of your marketing material. This is not only the foundation your culture is created upon, but also it is the driving force.

Second, ignite yourself and your team in the direction you plan to be heading. Vision casting is an important element in creating a company’s culture. It’s the end ideal and goal we are all working towards. The vision comes from the leader’s experience, inspiration and analysis. When deciding where the company needs to go one finds their self already in the process of creating the culture. By verbalizing clearly where the company is heading this creates excitement.

Third, what gets recognized gets done and what gets rewarded gets done first. Setting up an employee appreciation program, celebration of a project well done, year of service recognition, safety awareness recognition, employee of the month, or allowing for a picture board lets employees feel more appreciated and creates a good atmosphere. Setting realistic goals and tying team member’s goals into organizational goals allows for culture to be developed. It is important to grow leaders who not only understand the work, live the philosophy and teach others, but strive to make the organization a continuous learning environment.

Fourth, sustain and self-discipline. As a leader it is your job to go back to the original blueprint from time-to-time to make sure you are heading in the desired direction. The team is the wheels for moving the culture forward while the leader steers. The nasty word nobody likes is self-discipline but as a leader you need to be leading from the forefront.

Remember, as the point person, always take the lead in creating the corporate culture. Otherwise it creates itself, flounders, or develops several sub-cultures. Leaders cast the vision, create the mission, set the pace and live the core values.

Mike Ridpath was raised in Ferndale, Washington, currently is a senior manager for Evergreen Team Concepts Products and Services. He is responsible for the development and implementation of multiple projects at Evergreen Team Concepts http://www.etcwa.com and is on the board of directors for the Lean Leadership Institute at http://www.lli5s.org

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