Creating a Great Corporate Culture

Welcome to Week 5 of the SOS Leadership Blog Series:
Creating a Positive Organizational Culture
Each Friday for the next 4 weeks, we’ll be blogging about engaging employees, boosting morale, and creating a dynamic culture. We have an awesome lineup of guest bloggers, some of the best and brightest HR folks around! Come back each Friday to hear their words of wisdom. If you need to be reminded, followSOS Leadership on Twitter and like us on Facebook, and we’ll let you know when the blogs are posted! Happy Friday!!!

Today’s thought-provoking blog post, entitled Creating a Great Corporate Culture, is by Rackspace‘s Head of Culture Branding, Michael Long!

Corporate culture is a funny topic…everyone in the HR industry seems to be talking about it, but few have defined what it means for their organizations. Instead, we are given example after example of what good looks like. But, is that “good” the same for your company or your culture?

What is corporate culture anyway and why does it matter?

Who creates it and who is responsible for it?

Why is it so hard to explain?

Why do we try?

The truth is, corporate culture is a hard thing to nail down. It changes quickly. By the time you get to some sort of definition, something changes and you are forced to redefine. How can you possibly present an authentic picture of what it means to be a part of an organization when elements of the group change daily?

At Rackspace, our culture is constantly changing. Since our inception, growth, technology, economic circumstances and Racker personalities have all played a part in evolving the essence of what it means to be a Racker and our overall esprit de corps. If I could bottle up the near palpable culture and share it, I would… but I can’t. So, in an effort to be real and real-time, I depend on our people to share the culture they are experiencing on our career site Racker Talent. To date, we’ve added 40 bloggers from 4 continents with an average of 2 new posts a week. It’s been an adventure!

In my mind, culture is about today. The events of yesterday and the prior years represent our historical context. For the Rackers who were a part of the entire series of events, this historical context is vivid and real. For those just joining the company, their context starts the moment they walk through the door. Both groups make up and influence our true culture.

The more I contemplate this topic, the more I lean towards the perspective that culture is not meant to be bottled up or defined. It’s meant to live and breathe.

So, how does that work?

How can a company have a “good” corporate culture?

It’s about connectedness and organizations accepting their employees for who they are. Quit hiring people for skill sets alone. Start placing values above all else. Are they a good person? Are they ambitious? Do they live by the values of your company? Then, let them be. Trust them. Let them shape the culture that makes your place of work different and special.

You can teach people skills, but training values is near impossible. When was the last time you witnessed someone transform from an egotistical, self-centered, mean personality to a group-oriented all around happy person?

When I roam our offices meeting Rackers and hearing their stories, I see a trend. People here care. They care about their co-workers; they care about their customers; and they accept the calling to help build one of the world’s best service companies. Mediocrity with these values is not an option.

We hire passionate people who want to make a difference. And guess what? They bring that passion to work every day. They help their colleagues, and they go above and beyond for our customers.

Want a great corporate culture? Quit defining it and start hiring the type of people who care about the mission. The culture will figure itself out.


About Michael Long

Since 2003, Michael Long has dedicated his career to talent acquisition. In that time, his areas of responsibility have included recruitment, management, training, strategy and employment branding in both corporate and agency environments. In 2008, Michael took a concentrated interest in the use of social media as it applies to the realm and launched his first blog,
The Red Recruiter.

In 2010, Michael joined Rackspace Hosting in San Antonio, TX to head up global employment branding initiatives. Since becoming a “Racker,” Michael launched RackerTalent.com and has brought together internal bloggers from five continents to share the authentic culture of the organization.

Connect with Michael on Twitter (@theredrecruiter).

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