Fostering Modern Culture in the Cloud

Corporate culture is having its renaissance moment. Startups around the world and companies like Netflix, Hubspot, and Salesforce are beginning to pay a lot more attention to organizational health, and for a good reason. In this economy, strong candidates realize it’s not too hard to find jobs that pay, but what they want is culture -- an environment that will allow them to learn more, do more, and become more. Most importantly, great candidates are looking for a place where they’ll find fulfillment.

As the fastest growing SaaS company in Georgia, and now Atlanta’s Best Place to Work (awarded by the Atlanta Business Chronicle), we’ve been intentional about our culture. The core fundamentals are a result of our founding team, and many of the ideas we’ve put to work involve the internet. The goal is to diversify and align: bring together unique team members from all walks of life (including  an a capella singer, an ex-pro baseball player, a YouTube rapper, and dozens more divergent personalities), then have them all converge on the mission of our business.

Here are five culture concepts we’ve used that will help you win best place to work in your city — and to grow from five employees to over 70 in just 18 months:

1. Know where you’re going.

To know where you’re going, you need to know your mission and the objective. To define these things for ourselves, we wrote The What, Why and How of SalesLoft. Inspired by Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast, a series designed to encourage leaders go further, faster, we modeled our company’s missions around concepts like bold leadership, keystone habits, and the power of a team. From those concepts grew SalesLoft’s mission: to become the next billion-dollar SaaS company in Atlanta and use the company as a vehicle to change the lives or our employees, to change the fabric of the ATL tech landscape, and the change the timeline for the industry of sales.

2. Practice transparency and vulnerability.

Our team’s guidepost for these two qualities come directly from Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. By focusing on trust, healthy conflict, commitment, accountability, and collective results, we are able to be open, transparent and honest. Within our team, we have open metrics, open finances — even an open “ask me anything” policy with the leadership team. We can do this because we have a leadership team that’s not afraid to admit mistakes.

3. Monitor your organizational heartbeat.

Just like sales, you must have a rhythm and cadence around meeting structures. At SalesLoft we have regular weekly one-on-ones, tacticals, 15five reports, and weekend update emails. We have monthly strategic leadership meetings and company-wide update breakfasts, and a quarterly shared one-page strategic plan. With an open, dependable and reliable interaction from CEO to independent, and sales coaching by Rivalry.com, we are able to monitor our organizational heartbeat at any given moment.

4. Create a culture of education.

Great people want to learn more, do more, and become more. Millennials’ number one request in a career is a learning opportunity. Through things like structured leadership curriculum, a public CEO SoundCloud account, shared kindle accounts, biweekly book review presentations, and regular lunch-and-learns, you can create an open arena of education and learning opportunities.

5. Honor, cherish, and communicate company-wide core values.

Every company has core values of some kind — only some honor, cherish, and communicate them regularly. Pro-tip on how to mine out the core values? Take the leaders of your team and ask them to pick out 3 of their people who would lead to market domination. Then have them list the top 10 traits of these people. Match these up with each other, and mine out the best core values. Our core values are positive, supportive and self-starting — and these are values we hire by, fire by, promote by, and live by.

As a business leader, culture is the only thing you have complete control over within your company. Markets change, technologies change, and industry landscapes change -- but who you hire and who you manage out, and the standards by which you do these things, is under your control. Who you promote, who you coach and who you reward determines your overall culture. This is what makes up your company and this is the sustainable advantage of a modern culture in the cloud.

About the Author

Kyle Porter is the CEO of SalesLoft, a B2B sales information company in Atlanta, GA. Their business creates content and applications that help sales professionals close more deals. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kyleporter

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