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May 12, 2009
Corporate Culture in the Workplace
A lesson for both potential employers and job seekers alike.
Once upon a time, getting a job generally meant you were there for the life of your career, or at best a good portion of it. This often meant starting at the bottom and working your way up the ladder. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, times have changed.
Today, people seem to change jobs as often as they do hairstyles, which is an unfortunate reality that more and more employers have to deal with. Not only does this force potential employers to be leery of travel prone candidates, it also hurts those who feel they have to continually change jobs in order to find the right fit. At our agency, we call this “The Goldielocks” syndrome – a grass is always greener mentality that is both costly and problematic on many levels.
The good news is that much of this can be avoided by simply taking a closer look at the corporate culture within your business, or for many companies, the lack of it.
Corporate culture generally refers to an organizations values, beliefs and behaviors, but in today’s world, it goes much deeper. In many ways, it defines an organizations personality, and the personality of those who call their chosen place of employment home.
The truth is, all employers want the same thing – employees that take pride in their work, employees who are committed to the greater good of the company and employees that are dependable and reliable over time.
At our firm we want more. Here, we want team members who are believers – believers in our mission, our future, and in what we do and how we do it. Most importantly, we want team members that add to our conversation by taking ownership within our tribe.
Finding these like-minded individuals has not always been an easy task. To find them, we first had to take a hard look at who we were, and who we wanted to be.
The result was a company wide transformation that brought on many changes, such as the realization that some of our staff would not be part of the revolution. You see, not only were they the wrong fit for us, but we were also the wrong fit for them. It was a difficult process, but in the end, we were able to develop an agency of believers that could effectively deliver on our promise to our clients, as well as our promise to ourselves. That promise was to have a team of people who worked hard, played hard, enjoyed one another, had a life outside of work and were excited about the opportunity to build something together. 
With events like, ‘groove time', our annual ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’ celebrations, or the making of quarterly YouTube videos such as, ‘Baby Got Brands’, we were able to demonstrate how hard we worked at never taking ourselves too seriously – refusing to model ourselves after traditional agencies that seemed to be more interested in image over substance. Our message was simple – if our way of thinking was not for you, then you were not right for our agency.

By defining our culture, we were able to gain continued ownership from those we enjoyed working with, filter out the non-believers, and attract a wealth of new talent that were not just looking for a job, but a career.
The key to developing a culture that better represents who you want to be, you must first look closely at who you are, as well as the team you have in place to represent your brand. They are the voice of your company, and it is vital that they buy into what you are selling. If not, it will only be a matter of time before they move on to other opportunities.
For those of you seeking jobs and careers, I recommend looking past the surface, and dig deep beyond the rhetoric. Discover the culture of the companies you are looking at and make sure they provide an environment that you will not only thrive in, but also enjoy.

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Jaci Russo is a co-founder and senior partner of The Russo Group, a national branding agency located in Lafayette, LA. She is a brand strategist with experience including strategic planning, consumer insight, brand management, national product launches, and media management for clients in a cross section of industries. She speaks to organizations across the country on the power of branding, changing the conversation, message training, and how to brand through social media.

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