Want An Amazing Organizational Culture? Here's Some Tips From One Of The Best

InfoTrust is a digital analytics company that specializes in online measurement architecture for multi-brand companies, breaking down silos and validating data to ensure teams have the confidence to make data-backed decisions for the business.

According to Inc., InfoTrust has been one of the fastest growing companies in the United States for the past three years. Moreover, InfoTrust was ranked by Inc. to be one of the best places to work in 2017. AdAge also ranked InfoTrust to be one of the best places to work in 2017.

As an organizational psychologist, my professional background and education is to examine workplace psychology. More specifically, I’m interested in what cutting-edge organizations are doing to keep their employees happy, healthy, creative, and productive.

I’d read about InfoTrust and the amazing things they were doing with their culture. So I decided to reach out to the CEO, Alex Yastrebenetsky, to understand exactly what they were doing differently at InfoTrust.

Here’s what I learned about their organizational culture:

1. Initial “Benefits” Of Working For The Company

To be fully honest, it was interesting talking to Yastrebenetsky. Very rarely do I talk to a CEO who is this interested in his employee’s well-being and happiness. My impression after I got off the phone was: “Wow! This sounds like an amazing place to work!”

I was somewhat embarrassed though, because my assistant, Rachel, was on the phone call taking notes for me as I was asking questions. After Yastrebenetsky hung-up, my assistant now knew what an organization looked like that took care of their people in a really rare and profound way. 

I knew that, at least for the time being, I couldn’t offer my assistant what InfoTrust offers their people. But I’m glad I had this call, and I’m glad my assistant was on the call as well. Because we both learned what our workplace environment could be like. 

With that context, here is the list of initial “benefits” Yastrebenetsky told me that all employees who work at InfoTrust get:

  • Insurance is fully paid by InfoTrust for employees and their dependents — this includes health, dental and vision insurance
  • Unlimited PTO
  • 401(k) with 100% match of first 3% and 50% match of the next 2%
  • Bonus program that could reward up to 15% of employee’s salary
  • Free lunch in the Cincinnati and Dubai office every day!
  • Fully stocked kitchen at the Cincinnati office
  • Flexible work schedule and the ability to work from home
  • Tuition reimbursement for further education

2. The Goal Is To Remove All “Life Friction” So Employees Can Focus At Work

The reason InfoTrust provides all employees with insurance, and provides completely flexible work schedules is because, in Yastrebenetsky’s words, “Our goal is to remove all life friction so our people can focus while they’re at work.”

This statement was profound to me. 

  • When people get to work, all of their food is taken care of.
  • If they want more education and training, it’s taken care of and paid for.
  • All forms of essential insurance are taken care of for the employee and their family. 

According to research, when people feel taken care of, they become increasingly committed to the organization. They become committed to their leaders. Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) is one way of looking at this. When someone feels their leader has done them well, they feel compelled to reciprocate in the form of quality performance and other citizenship behaviors– such as going above and beyond the call of duty.

When your people feel taken care of, they don’t need to be motivated by carrots and sticks. They develop intrinsic motivation to be a supportive member of the group. They want the organization to succeed. They begin to truly feel they are a part of something bigger; something important. 

3. Unique Parental Leave Policy

Another thing InfoTrust does that is unique is their Parental Leave Policy. All parents (father, mother, adoptive parent) that work at the company for at least one year are eligible, and the benefit covers three months of paid leave, followed by three months of part-time work.

Specifically, if you have a kid, you get a total of six months of coverage to help you ease your way back into work and focus on being with your little one.

4. 50/50 Workforce Of Men And Women

Half of the employees at InfoTrust are women. This is quite unique given the fact that nearly all of these employees are engineers. Half of the leadership are women.

According to Yastrebenetsky, the 50/50 split of men and women creates a dynamic workplace energy. “The energy in the environment is balanced and exciting,” Yastrebenetsky told me. 

Beyond their own employment, InfoTrust is trying to support women in technology groups more generally. This thrust and encouragement for women in engineering felt particularly important to me. Indeed, only 9% of the engineering workforce in 2016 were women, despite growing numbers of women studying engineering in college (approximately 25%). Thus, the stereotypes still exist in many organizations about women and engineering, which is why I was very excited to hear about InfoTrust’s encouragement toward women and also their 50/50 split as an organization.

5. Having A “Vivid Vision” And Clearly Communicating That Vision To All Employees

Yastrebenetsky promotes heavily the philosophy of writer and strategist, Cameron Herald, who wrote the book, Vivid Vision

Yastrebenetsky told me that in 2017, the InfoTrust management team unveiled the company’s Vivid Vision during “InfoTrust Week.” InfoTrust Week is a time when all of the employees meet at the Cincinnati office to enjoy of week of training, fun events and team-building.

Yastrebenetsky said: 

“Since we have employees based in Dubai, Barcelona, Michigan, California and Florida it is important that we all get a chance to see the team all in one place. Although this week has a significant cost to the company, the leadership knows that the value of a strong company culture makes it all worth it. During this week, we provide a balanced mix of fun activities and growth activities. For example, we may offer training on a new analytics training for an hour, followed by a brainstorming on how we can give back to the community, finished off by an event at the park. All of these events allow for each employee to live our core values.”

During InfoTrust Week, the Vivid Vision was unveiled, which is a “short and focused”
document that lays out a detailed plan for where InfoTrust will be in three years, as we enter the year 2020.

They believe that by defining the success of their future, they have set the path to get there. Accoring to Yastrebenetsky:

The Vivid Vision also ensures everyone – from the CEO and CMO to the executive management team to employees – is on the same page and excited about what the future holds. It’s also a critical tool in ensuring our team, partners, and investors are all aligned for a successful future.

Just having a path laid out in the Vivid Vision sets us apart from many other employers. However, our Vivid Vision also includes three management-championed company practices that truly set us apart: being the best to employees, being the best for our clients, and influencing the future of analytics.

Conclusion

As an organizational psychologist, I’m constantly studying and analyzing organizations, their cultures, and their leadership. 

Without question, the leadership and organization at InfoTrust is doing something different. And the proof is in the pudding. They are growing extremely fast and their people are happy and productive.

If you’re a leader of an organization, what can you learn from InfoTrust to make your organization more successful?

How can you become one of the fastest growing companies in the United States?

How can you become one of the best voted places to work?

LeBron James is a Superstar. But Great Leaders Use This Superior Strategy to Find Success

For anyone who follows NBA basketball, there’s a war going on right now.

One one side, there’s LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, struggling to overcome the incredible team-based play of the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, it’s exactly the same scenario.

The Golden State Warriors are loaded to the gills with superstars like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, but they play like a well-oiled machine. James Harden, meanwhile, is one of the most talented players we’ve seen in years and a likely league MVP–his dribbling and shooting prowess makes you do a double-take. Yet, it’s hard to ignore the fact that everyone else on the Houston Rockets (except Chris Paul) is often on the court standing around, waiting to see what happens. Four teams, but two completely different strategies. We’ll soon find out which strategy will prevail in the next few days.

The war raging between “team” and “superstar” has been around awhile. In business, you might be tempted to rely on a small group of overachievers. Yet, nothing quite compares to a larger group of people all working together in perfect synergy.

I was watching the Cavaliers the other night and realized the “old school” approach of driving the lane, passing the ball to the superstar on almost every play, and hoping that one person scoring 42 points is a good strategy matches up perfectly with how some leaders operate in business. “Give the ball to the superstar” is a common tactic.  

It doesn’t really work, and part of the reason has to do with how teams function. In my own experience, individuals who can ramp up sales quickly are like a meme or a viral marketing video. It’s a big hit, but it doesn’t really lead to long-term success. I agree James is one of the best ever, but you could easily argue that one-guy-driving-the-lane has not worked. It has not helped the Cavs win an NBA Championship. Only when James surrounds himself with exemplary players, not pawns in a chess match, does he usually win the final series.

It won’t help your prospects as a leader, either. Teams in business who work together are far stronger, far more productive, and find far more success than a couple of greats.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

In one startup, I remember hiring someone who had exceptional graphic design skills. She could make Photoshop dance. And, she could crank out brochures and other items faster than anyone else. At meetings, she was always a little bored. But the other team members were also hungry to learn. Over an entire year, the other team members eventually learned how to use the design apps, shared ideas with each other, found workarounds, and built up their repertoire. In meetings, they would come up with far better ideas as a group. That one superstar was wildly talented, but had to rely on her own prowess.

Eventually, we ended up switching her to a different department, one that needed a solo producer. The rest of the team flourished, grew creatively, and became way more productive. There’s something about how a team of, say, five people working together creates more productivity than five individuals working alone. Each person fuels the entire team, generates new ideas, and pushes every project forward.

Watching the Cavs lately reminds me of that designer. Just give the ball to LeBron is not a great strategy against teams like the Boston Celtics. It becomes one against five. We’ll see how it all works out, but I’ll still hold to my view. Teams win in the end.