Creating Culture

As the Chief of the Flagstaff Police Department, I might appreciate more than most the importance of creating the “right” culture in an organization. Today, with law enforcement under fire almost daily, it is more important than ever to assure my department is policing ethically, efficiently and effectively. This I think this is best accomplished by developing and maintain the right culture.

Culture is defined by well written and clearly articulated mission, vision and value statements. Briefly, our mission is to protect life, property, public order and the rights of the individual by providing exemplary service through partnerships with law abiding citizens. It defines clearly our most important focus, and articulates how we go about accomplishing it. Our vision and values reiterate a little more clearly that we value life, the Constitution, customer service, integrity and quality of life. These documents compliment and are consistent with one another. But simply writing these documents are not enough.

How is a culture consistent with your mission and values established throughout an organization?

I think the answer is found in the following:

1.)    Focus on your mission and values daily

2.)    Assure your training incorporates the mission and values of the organization

3.)    The 3 “P’s”

4.)    Develop supporting philosophies

Focus on your mission and values daily

Some organizations go to great lengths to carefully craft a mission and values statement. Then they shelve this statement and rarely again look at it. An effective leader should find ways to incorporate the values and the mission into daily life in their organization. Certainly buying professional posters with the mission and values depicted and framed is one way, but even more effective is incorporating the mission and values in all discussions and documents. The strategic plan should start with the mission, values and vision, as well as quarterly and annual reports. If the organization hosts regularly scheduled staff meetings, the first power point slide should be the mission statement of the organization and start every conversation.

Assure your training incorporates Mission and Values

Training is important to any organization. It represents a golden opportunity to ensure that the mission and values of the organization are reinforced. Leaders should pay close attention to lesson plans being offered to their employees, especially if the instructor is from outside the organization. There is nothing more devastating than an instructor unfamiliar with your mission teaching your employees, especially if this material is contrary to the culture you are trying to establish.

The 3 “P’s”

The culture you are trying to create can be effectively reinforced through the organizations promotions, praise and punishment. Promotional processes in most organizations involve an announcement of the material to prepare for, and the ability for the organization to design the test. This is a stellar opportunity for leaders to design a process that reinforces the mission and values of the organization. Make employees study this material in preparation for the process and exhibit their mastery of it. Leaders should constantly look for ways to recognize their employees for work that reinforces the mission and values. Formal award programs are great for this. Finally, behavior or actions that are inconsistent with the mission and values of the organization should be addressed through formal disciplinary processes. Employees will quickly determine what actions will result in positive or negative reinforcement.

Develop Supporting Philosophies

On the Flagstaff Police Department, in addition to our Mission, Vision and Values Statements, we have develop a motto and a philosophy that reinforce these documents. Our motto, “Ad Honorem”, is Latin and translates to “Service with Honor Without any Expectation of Personal Gain”. It reinforces our commitment to exemplary selfless service and at the same time, reminds our employees of our dedication to ethics and integrity. Finally, we have established a philosophy known as the “Four C’s of Policing”. Our Officers are constantly reminded that to police most effectively, we need to police Compassionately, Constitutionally, Consistently, and Correctly (in the eyes of the public and the courts).This is a philosophy supportive of both our mission, vision and values.


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