My values were instilled in me from a very early age by two loving and understanding parents in a small Midwest town. I was raised on a farm where we pretty much lived off the land and we counted on one another to pitch in and do our part to ensure our future together. Everything about this experience told me that family is essential—the most important component of a fulfilled and happy life—and this experience laid the foundation for all that I hold dear in life today: my spouse and children, love, respect, caring and compassion.

I truly believe that because of this upbringing I chose the field of human resources. Human resources is founded in the basic principle that our purpose—our team—is there to help others. Sometimes this “help” manifests itself through good communication and clear expectations, sometimes through policies and procedures which create key rules and boundaries, and other times it’s by showing compassion for the challenges that others may face or go through. And all the while we should strive to have compassion—to walk in another’s shoes—and to better address concerns so they can focus on success.

My role in human resources is to indoctrinate our new employees in our culture, expectations and methodology. When a new employee joins the organization, we begin the process of building an understanding of our culture. They hear about the history of the company, the expectations for respectful treatment of co-workers and guests, and we communicate clearly our zero tolerance for harassment, hostile intentions and disrespect of others. All of these components support the very foundation of the culture that is this company and clear expectations help to perpetuate that culture in everyone who joins us.

Lastly, to keep a strong culture alive, you must walk the talk and be approachable and have compassion for the needs of your team. That means all of your management team must be onboard with what you expect when it comes to treatment of your employees and keep an open door and open mind when dealing with their staff. It is also about communicating clearly where the company is going, how each person plays a part, and then being open to ideas, perspectives and opinions that may differ from yours but may also offer insight on a viewpoint that you may not be able to visualize.

Building and maintaining a sound culture is not an easy thing to do but with time and practice, you can move your team in the right direction and build the values in your culture that provide a reward in improved satisfaction, longevity and devotion to the company. Every step of the way, and over the many years, by upholding these values, and placing a high importance on respectful treatment in the workplace, you can and will build respect and caring as the foundation for your organizations success.

HR Question of the month: Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.