You can’t make it through a day without hearing about some new scandal involving a tech company. Whether it be Uber’s ongoing case with sexual harassment or Zenefits “bro-culture” problem, creating a positive working environment is something high tech companies are struggling with.
So how do you foster a company of hardworking, driven and compassionate people? At Infoblox we’ve found the no-jerks company policy to be the answer.
A no-jerks policy is much more than hiring nice people as the term may imply. It involves fostering a culture of transparency, learning and risk taking in a safe environment where employees feel empowered to challenge themselves and continue to learn. The self selection and organizational fit magically then produces a team environment where there are no-jerks or where that kind of behavior is not accepted by the company.
A common problem and reason for disconnect between employees is that they often don’t understand how their role and the work they do maps back to the overall company strategy.
This is where transparency from the top down plays a large role in creating a strong company culture. Our CEO, Jesper Anderson, is a ninja at executing on this core principle and has paved the path for the entire company to do the same.
Helping employees connect the dots within their organization and outlining the connection between corporate goals, growth strategy, and employees day to day work is a critical role of the leadership team. This helps reiterate employees’ purpose and supports motivation.
For example, a marketer and software engineer are rarely going to interact through everyday work at a high tech organization, and one may not understand the importance of the other’s contributions. It is the job of leadership to openly communicate how their role in a new product release meets the overall company vision and why one another’s skills are critical for the overall success of the product announcement. When employees have a mutual understanding of one another’s role, they are more likely to respect one another in the workplace and contribute to a positive working environment.
A culture of transparency is the connective tissue that allows employees to feel aligned with the company’s priorities and bring their energy to make a stronger contribution.
Working Outside the Comfort Zone
Company culture problems also arise when employees feel static within their role. It’s important to challenge employees to take on tasks outside their comfort zone, allowing them to explore new facets of their job and maybe discover an untapped area of interest. I have fondly requested many colleagues to take on “tours of duty” where they can passionately follow their instincts to address operational or strategic issues that they believe can be resolved.
For example, we encourage members of our marketing team to explore an initiative that is challenging and outside their core remit, but will ultimately help them to reach their personal career goals. Currently we have a field marketing team member in the Americas who believed that we could take our horizontal platform and create vertical, industry specific, campaigns for the Education and Health Care space. She not only took it on herself to create and launch these campaigns, but also worked closely with a cross-functional team at Infoblox to drive the campaign. The joint effort not only led a better outcome but also created mutual buy-in and shared success.
Encouraging employees to work outside of their comfort zone not only motivates them, but it also shows that their employer is invested in their success and believes in their skill set.
At Infoblox we believe that personal growth leads to career growth, so we practice training of the mind, not training of the technology. At high tech organizations it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the technology and pushing out products. While this is important, it’s not always the best approach to achieving employee growth, which ultimately drives the success of the business.
One way in which we encourage personal learning at Infoblox is through our Infoblox Buddy System where we match new employees with a “Buddy Bloxer” for the first 30 days on the new job so they can feel welcomed, informed and eager to contribute in their role.
The goal of the program is to provide employees with an informal relationship, not a managerial one, where new employees feel comfortable asking questions and learning the ropes. Joining a company at any stage in your career can be challenging and we believe that making employees feel comfortable from the start has long term benefits.
We also believe that learning should never stop. Employees are encouraged to learn throughout their career at Infoblox – whether it be taking a class at a local college or understanding how a new employee prefers to work, which creates more open minded people and stronger company culture.
Positive culture is not an easy goal to achieve, but when the leadership team is dedicated to cultivating a transparent, motivating and compassionate community, it trickles down to employees creating a team of no-jerks and highly motivated and productive teammates. We benefit from our culture every day at Infoblox and find it to be a core driver of our success. Learn about more ways to promote positive company culture and values in this Inc. article.