Mark Ralls, President and COO at Invicti Security, is no stranger to creating bragworthy company cultures. Over the course of his impressive career, he’s built culture in multiple types of organizations, from a private equity firm to an IT management software business to a data protection company. He relies on a few tried and true methods when building culture, including getting employees excited about their mission and the importance of diversity within teams.
We recently sat down with Mark to talk more about his experiences and his advice on how to create a bragworthy culture in your own business.
Motivation Around the Mission is Key
One major facet of building a bragworthy culture is getting your employees fired up about what their work will mean to the company. You can start creating this environment from the hiring process by focusing on the mission of your company. When the goal is clear and exciting, it’s easier to help folks find greater satisfaction in their careers, which can add much towards creating a healthy work culture.
Satisfaction in your career can come from three places:
- Autonomy: The degree to which you control how you spend your time
- Competence: How good you are at doing something that adds value
- Relatedness: How connected you feel to your team or organization
Let’s face it: everyone wants to go home at the end of the day feeling like they did something of value. When hiring, put your mission front and center and you’ll almost automatically attract competent team members.
The autonomy and relatedness aspects of career satisfaction are also essential. Team members need to feel that they are trusted to get their work done. They also need to feel comfortable communicating with the rest of the team. The word “team” is key here — folks will also feel more motivated to do good work when they know that the rest of their coworkers rely on them.
When you’re transparent about the work required you’ll also attract the best employees for the job. You also need to be clear about the type of recognition they can expect. For some people, it’s really important to get recognized by the higher-ups in the organization for a job well done. This could be the case for your business, but more than likely, it isn’t.
In response to this, you should always encourage recognition among peers. Praise and feedback at a peer level are almost more meaningful because your peers know everything that you’ve done, everything that you’ve accomplished, and the struggle that you’ve gone through to achieve it at a granular level.
Instead of trying to build an employer brand, focus on revealing to potential hires who you are, what your mission and goals are, and what your team is all about. Don’t be afraid to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Only then will you get good people in the door who will add to the culture that you’ve already built. In other words, build a bragworthy culture, and they will come.
Navigating Uncertainty and How to Adapt To It
The past few years have been filled with uncertainty and organizations have been forced to adapt. More and more people are working from home, which begs the question: How to create a company culture for remote workers? For many, gone are the days of long lunch breaks with coworkers, and chats next to the coffee pot. Working absurdly long hours can easily become the norm, which is not conducive to a healthy company culture. It’s critical for companies to support their entire team, which includes keeping remote employees motivated and engaged.
In the face of global events like a pandemic, you need to focus on three different things: taking care of your employees, taking care of your employees’ loved ones, and taking care of their communities. You can’t control things like worldwide lockdowns, but you can control what you do for your people. When you lay out clearly and consistently that your team’s livelihood is your priority, your team will feel supported, which can only make your culture stronger.
You can apply this idea to any major changes in your company: be clear and consistent with your values. Be true to your values — in what you say and what you do — and your culture will thrive.
This all goes back to the importance of communication within your organization. Don’t be afraid to communicate in a different way in different places. Share on Slack, send an email, have an all-hands meeting and deliver your message across the board. Proper communication will help your employees feel supported.
Lack of support and communication has been a huge issue for some companies, and has resulted in a mass exodus from many. Mark isn’t shy about pointing out that many of these businesses talked a big game about company values but when it came down to the wire, they just weren’t there for their employees. And they took a major hit as a result. Remember the importance of being transparent about your mission and values — and of practicing what you preach.
The Importance of Diversity
One big part of creating a healthy work culture is by understanding the importance of having a diverse team in terms of ethnicity, gender, social class, and the like. There are a number of studies that show that the more diverse your team is, whether at the executive level or within the company, the higher performing it will be.
When you bring in a diversity of perspectives, you bring in different ideas. You achieve better outcomes and better decisions when you have a larger mix of voices in the room. You could even go so far as to say that when you don’t build diversity into your teams, you violate your fiduciary responsibility to your shareholders.
Show your team that you care more about their ability to perform and work hard than their race or gender. Show them that you will compensate them in the way that you would compensate anyone else who can perform at that level. For example, just because the norm in the market is to pay women less than men, offer competitive salaries to everyone of the same skill set to show how important equal pay is to your company.
When you do so it puts you at a huge advantage as an employer. It shows that you are able to see past who people are on paper and concentrate on the skills that they can bring to the organization. It sends an enormous message about what you care about, how you see the world, and how you see the candidate in front of you. And that speaks volumes about your culture.
Our brains are naturally hardwired to search out people who we relate to. But, when you fight against that internal bias, you will only come out ahead. You’ll end up hiring better candidates and you’ll engender a certain level of loyalty and commitment among them. Isn’t that what creating a bragworthy culture is all about?
Check Out the Full Episode
Interested in learning more about how to create a positive work culture at your own business? Check out the episode of The BragWorthy Culture podcast on Apple or Spotify. Jordan Peace talks with Mark Ralls, President and COO at Invicti Security. Invicti has been an Applications Security leader for more than 15 years and enables organizations in every industry to continuously scan and secure all of their web apps and APIs. Invicti’s HQ is in Austin, Texas, and it serves more than 3,500 organizations. Throughout his career, Mark has had the opportunity to build and manage teams and coax great work out of them. He shares hiring tips (he loves candidates that are “his kind of crazy”), the importance of diversity (“the more diverse your team is, the better performing it will be”), what COVID-19 triggered for Invicti (revealed that they were true to their values), and why he thinks it should be called the Great Reckoning, not the Great Resignation.
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