Back in April, when I learned Rackspace had ranked for the first time on Forbes’ annual America’s Best Employers list, I was pleasantly surprised.
When I look at the list of companies included, it really is amazing to be in the same company as some of the greats. These are companies whose online tools I use on a daily basis, or who I shop with when purchasing groceries. Others are prestigious universities or longstanding businesses I yearned to work for when I was growing up.
At the same time, it occurred to me that Rackspace making the list was no mistake, and instead came from a great deal of planning and effort. Like many other successful companies, it also came from the top down.
There’s a quote from Rackspace Co-founder and Chairman Graham Weston, which is printed on a few banners around The Castle, “What we all want from work is to be valued members of a winning team on an inspiring mission.”
Simply reading it once or twice, it might sound like any other mission statement. However, when each phrase is broken down into individual parts, it shows a working formula for success.
As we complete our Core Values Week here at Rackspace (and Weston’s quote certainly speaks to our core values), I wanted to offer my own personal interpretation of each phrase:
“What we all want from work…”
We all know we have to work. It’s more than just the activity that puts money into our bank accounts. If I look at a calendar and take any given day of any given week from any given month, what I’ve actually done is sold that calendar spot for a day’s wages. If I’m going to do that, I need to bring the best every day that I possibly can. I encounter many Rackers who exemplify this each and every day.
“…is to be valued members…”
So we all bring our best every day. Lots of people in lots of companies around the world do that every day. What’s the difference? The next part of the equation is to value those who make this effort. It helps when you have a set of core values everybody understands and adheres to. Ours are made up of the following six:
- Fanatical Support in all we do
- Results first; substance over flash
- Treat Rackers like friends and family
- Passion for our work
- Full disclosure and transparency
- Committed to greatness
Each one of these values could be an article by itself. However, when we’re doing something at work, either for a customer or for another Racker, we often check to make sure it aligns with these values.
“…of a winning team…”
It’s important to want to come out on top. Ask any young person playing soccer, football (American), baseball, volleyball or any other sport. Winning feels great. More importantly, when you’re winning because of your passion and commitment to greatness, knowing the results have been fully disclosed, all while treating others as friends and family, you feel amazing.
Full transparency: not every effort is an out-of-the-park success. I think that’s when it’s important to remember the previous step of being a valued member. When you don’t achieve what you set out to do, acknowledge it and learn from it. Treating others as failures when things don’t work out doesn’t benefit anyone. That’s why the previous step is so important to communicate that you are still valued as a team member.
“…on an inspiring mission.”
This should be the internal motivation for an individual to get up and want to accomplish something great. A friend of mine once said, “by nature inspiration – in a literal sense of the word is spirit within.” Because the spirit within is allowed to grow in so many Rackers, many products that customers use every day were actually grown from one person’s passion and commitment to greatness. It’s important to note that inspiration is something that cannot be forced. As my friend also commented, “I just start working on something until it begins to tell me what it wants to be.”
Remember, this is just one person’s opinion of why things work the way they do. Talk to other Rackers and you’ll find other stories based on their experiences. The important part is the alignment at the top.
As we wrap up our Core Values Week at Rackspace, I’m glad to have had the chance to reflect on the above and I hope it brings inspiration, or at least some perspective, to others.