Why positive company culture is the foundation for successful businesses
Throughout my professional career I have come to find a strong business model and innovative products are not the only elements of a successful company. A strong corporate culture can make or break a seemingly successful organization. At Infoblox, I partnered with Norma Lane, our Chief Human Resources Officer, to provide an explicit definition of our culture. A lot of our employees join (and stay at) Infoblox in part because of our strong culture, and so it is critical that we can provide a clear definition of our cultural values. As a team, we made the decision to practice a culture of transparency where employees feel empowered to do their best work. Another example of a great cultural value we hold up high is that jerks are not tolerated.
Always ask questions
Growing up in Denmark, a country relatively free of hierarchies, I was encouraged to question everything. This is something I have taken with me throughout my career, I always ask questions and encourage employees to do the same. Scandinavian countries are known for their liberal nature and freedom which are built on values like transparency, direct feedback and egalitarianism, which I practice in my leadership style.
When employees are encouraged to ask questions, it inspires creativity as they don’t feel constrained by following managers word for word. This results in out-of-the-box thinking which can lead to stronger solutions that reach a broader audience. Additionally, if an employee feels comfortable questioning why they have been asked to do something they may get deeper insight into why they are executing a task and see its true value add, allowing them to do superior work as a result.
Value others’ opinions
Another principle I have carried through my career that comes from my egalitarian roots, is that all employees’ opinions matter. Company structure should not be dictated by the CEO or the any other person at the top. If they drive all company decisions, however small, and act as a funnel for the business, everything becomes one-minded and the business may suffer as a result.
In the past, I have received ideas from employees in junior-level positions which we implemented and were very successful. An example of this would be some of the ways we have fun, and let our employees blow off steam on a regular basis.
Create an inclusive culture
A diverse, inclusive company culture is the foundation for a strong successful company. This is another belief I have carried with me throughout my career, and that we continue to support and resource in order to make possible. You have to put in the effort, attention, and resources necessary for any project or idea to be successful. The same holds true for creating a company culture – it takes time and energy.
At Infoblox we have a program called “Women at Infoblox Network,” which focuses on building an internal support system to attract, retain, and promote women in the workplace. The goal of this program is to not only give women the tools needed to take on leadership roles in positions like sales and engineering, but also to encourage the younger female generations to consider a career in STEM. Providing opportunities for women in leadership roles will help us to become a stronger more diverse company that will position us for success.
The values I learned growing up in Denmark have followed me throughout my career and are core to how I choose to lead an organization. Through transparency, diversity, and continued employee support, organizations can build strong companies positioned for success.