Ways to Build a Positive Workplace Culture

Mark Ralls of Invicti Security offers advice on how to create a bragworthy culture in your own business.

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.

Look­ing to build your own Brag­Wor­thy Cul­ture? Fringe can help. Fringe is the num­ber one lifestyle ben­e­fits plat­form. Give your peo­ple the pow­er of choice and save a ton of admin­is­tra­tive headaches by con­sol­i­dat­ing exist­ing ven­dors and pro­grams into a sim­ple, auto­mat­ed plat­form. Talk to our team to get started.