1. Articulate your Fundamental Philosophy.
In just a few meaningful words you can create a company culture. These words should represent a position; something you stand for and are passionate about. Once you determine exactly what this is, articulate it in clear terms and few words. Find a central operating principle. A great example of a fundamental philosophy is the Ritz-Carlton’s, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen”.
2. Build a List of Core Values.
To elaborate on your central philosophy, create a list of your critical, core values. You want this list to be short enough that each employee can fully understand and internalize it, yet long enough to ensure it is meaningful. Your core value list should summarize the treatment of customers, employees, and vendors.
3. Continually Reinforce your Commitment to these Values.
Devote three to five minutes to stress the importance of one value, or a specific aspect of one value, at your daily/weekly meetings. While this may seem excessive, you must ensure that, at the very least, you don’t neglect discussing the company values until the annual shareholders meeting or company picnic. Anything you identify as ‘core’ should never be put on an annual schedule.
4. Keep it Visual.
The Ritz-Carlton, for example, has ‘credo cards’, laminated accordion-fold cards carried by each and every employee to reference whenever necessary. Fitting onto the ‘credo cards’ are the company’s entire core beliefs and the basics of employee/guest interactions. Another example is the online show company Zappos, which highlights one of its core values on each box it ships to a customer.
5. Focus the Orientation on your Philosophy.
Make sure you center your employee orientation programs on your core philosophy, to ensure workers enter the company understanding what is most valued and important to the business. This way, when an issue arises in the workplace, the employees are more likely to ensure the company’s values are upheld and the situation is handled in a manner that respects the core philosophy.
6. Support & Enforce Your Values.
A core values statement is simply words on a page until you and your employees embody it in real life. Ray Davis, President and CEO of Umpqua Bank, believes “maintaining a culture [in the workplace] is like raising a teenager…you’re constantly checking in. What are you doing? Where are you going? Who are you hanging out with?’’ Support and enforce your core values and fundamental philosophy in order to build the best possible culture.