Creating a Great Corporate Culture

by The Red Recruiter on July 22, 2011

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?

Rackspace Fanatiguy MosaicThe 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 breath.

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 worlds’ 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.

  • Kfrancis

    I’m a longterm employee who just spend considerable time discussing our company culture with a newcomer. I think you’re so right, both perspectives are valid and useful. I appreciated her fresh eyes, her observations and her criticism. And maybe she appreciated my historical perspective. Thanks for the reminder that culture is very dynamic.

  • theredrecruiter

    Dynamic indeed!  Thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts 😉

  • Jon L Long

    How do you keep “Outside Corporate Cultures” for infiltrating and changing the unique “Rackspace Culture” when new management is hired from outside the walls of the castle?  Is there as much attention paid to “fit” during the interview process?  Too many corporations still just look at the numbers and their management is rewarded to produce by using myopic methods.  The unique talent and culture of Rackspace will morph into “just another corporation” if someone doesn’t watch the gate. 

  • theredrecruiter

    The recruiters and hiring managers are constantly evaluating “fit” during the hiring process.  It’s taken pretty seriously.

    Regarding the measuring, this takes many forms.  However, engagement and employee satisfaction are very important for gauging manager effectiveness.  It’s something that Rackspace checks up on constantly.  In fact, there is an internal engagement team that is responsible for keeping a pulse on this issue.

  • Davis Staedtler

    Excellent. Not enough is ever said, nor recognized, around the persistent attention that should devoted to placing values above all else.

  • Brian Ruther

    Great Article about Great Corporate Culture

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