Stop Putting Your Employees in Boxes … #SHRM11

by Kelly Long on June 26, 2011

The past few years have brought many blessings – new city, new job, Husband and daughter.  A blessing this month was the opportunity to come join the social media team at SHRM, thanks to Curtis Midkiff for the pass and to Rackspace (my employer) for promoting my ongoing development!  I’ve never been to a National SHRM event … or to Las Vegas.  So, this week is sure to fulfill both the little kid and HR Nerd in me!

Sitting in the exhibit hall waiting for the opening session to begin, watching a seemingly endless stream of people flowing through the doors kicked my HR energy into high gear. That inner nerd already feels connected with all of them.  14,000 HR professionals are here today with over 1,000 international attendees!

After an introduction number from the Viva Elvis crew (awesome!), the event kicked off with the announcement of Hank Jackson as the new SHRM CEO.  After a few words from him, Richard Branson took the stage.

I’ve been looking forward to this opening keynote since I found out I was going to attend.  Branson, CEO of everything Virgin, is a well-respected business and thought leader, filled with passion and the unique ability to take risk and seize opportunity.

There were a number of good sound bites that resonated with the crowd throughout his session … and a few that really struck home with me.

1)- “A bad CEO or Manager can destroy the whole spirit of a company incredibly quickly.  HR needs to push them out the door.”

Culture is such an important thing to protect in an organization.  It only takes one person to begin to infect and destroy what unites and makes you unique.  It’s the responsibility not just of HR, but of every leader to protect that culture.   Michael recently bought the book The No Asshole Rule, and it surrounds that very idea.  Asshole’s suck the life and energy out of an organization.  Let’s get better at kicking them out … and keeping them out!

2)- “My Mother made me stand on my own two feet – even at a young age.  She would throw me on a bicycle and tell me to bike 14 miles.”

One of the things that Branson believed his Mother instilled in him that led to his success was indeependence and doing it himself.  Maybe he didn’t always like it.  Maybe he wanted to be watching TV instead of doing chores … but looking back it instilled his work ethic and attitude.  As a parent, this especially struck home.

3)- My favorite part of the session was a question about hiring at Virgin.  Right off the bat, he answered, “We believe in promoting from within.  We don’t need the so-called experts from the outside.  Think outside the box.  Don’t think of the switchboard operator as always being the switchboard operator.  Don’t think of the cleaning lady as always being the cleaning lady.”

Too many times, growing organizations think they need to bring in outside “experts” to take them where they want to be.  It is refreshing to see such true dedication to the idea of internal promotions.  If you are hiring and developing your employees the right way, this becomes an easy and natural cycle.

Stop putting your employees in boxes.

There are so many great sessions to attend this week, I’ve got my calendar ready to keep both myself and Michael on track. ;) Let me know if there is anything you’re interested in hearing about and we’ll make it happen!

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That’s Right, We Dance!

by Kelly Long on March 24, 2011

This is a recent post that I wrote for RackerTalent … such a cool experience – I wanted to share!

I think everyone should have a bucket list.

It started very casually for me when I wrote a blog post as a college student.  I took inventory of what cool things I had already accomplished, and what new pursuits I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30.  Since the original post, my bucket list has continued to grow and evolve as things are added and items get checked off.

Flash Mob - RackspaceLast weekend, Rackspace allowed me to check one more item off my list – participate in a flash mob.  W00T!

Luminaria is San Antonio’s annual celebration of art and artists.  It was held on March 12th, 2011 with Rackspace as the presenting sponsor.  The event was free of charge and showcased a variety of artistic styles in downtown San Antonio at HemisFair Park.  More than 50 non-profit arts organizations and hundreds of artists displayed their talents in the areas of music, dance, film and media, literary arts, theater, visual arts and architecture.

There is a great article about the event and the impact it is having on San Antonio in the San Antonio Express-News you can read here.  Cara Nichols, our Community Affairs Director stated “It really enhances innovative thinking in our city. It makes San Antonio appealing for people who are looking to move here. Being a global company, Rackspace is able to shine a light on San Antonio. And having an event like Luminaria is another way to show that this is a great city for young professionals.”

The beginning of Luminaria is what brought us Racker’s from techies to dancers.  As Cara stepped on stage to speak as the presenting sponsor, she was interrupted by the beginning notes of Black Eyed Peas “I’ve had the time of my life.”  From there a group of 50 Rackers began to join in and overtook the park.  Check it out!

YouTube Preview Image

For about a month, 50 of us rehearsed twice a week to the routine.  It was a great way to meet and interact with Rackers, have fun and smile in the sunshine at the end of the day.

Kelly and Deborah - Rackspace Flash MobTo me, it is incredibly unique that the company I work for was able to provide the opportunity to impact my bucket list – outside of professional goals.  It speaks to the culture of Rackspace and the enthusiasm of Rackers. Big shout out toCara Nichols and Annie Vu for making this happen. :-)

I can’t wait to see what else we can cross off the list together!

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The Super Bowl of Leadership

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Did You Know? Human Capital Edition

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In 2005, an annual series of “Did You Know?”or “Shift Happens” videos began emerging on YouTube.  Today, you can find them on a variety of topics; Social Media, Technology, Globalization …even one made by 2nd grade students. I remember the first time I saw one of these; it was the only time I paid attention [...]

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