As a Senior Threat Operations Manager for Sophos Managed Detection and Response (MDR), I have developed a good understanding of our team’s work culture, its dynamics, and how it impacts the daily life of a Threat Analyst.
Through a series of corporate acquisitions and regional expansions over the course of the past three years, our team has rapidly grown to include Security Operations Centers (SOCs) in Canada, Ireland, India, and Australia.
Throughout this process, it was essential that we maintain a culture where all perspectives are openly shared and opinions valued. The addition of each new person and team not only provided us with exceptional talent but, more importantly, a range of new perspectives. Understanding these points of view and work experiences helped build the rock-solid and supportive culture we have in Sophos MDR today.
The development of a work culture always starts with a company’s leaders, as they have the biggest influence on the team. For many companies, leaders have a tendency to stand their ground from a position of power, rather than build trust by being authentic and vulnerable. This leads to a culture where results take priority over the individual. Performance is essential, but not at the expense of the individual – otherwise that performance cannot be sustained.
The leaders within Sophos MDR see authenticity and vulnerability as a tool that empowers others to feel comfortable enough to speak up but also, and more importantly, make a connection. Isn’t that what leadership is all about? Leading by example and showing the team that we are working toward a shared goal. The best way to do this is having a team where trust goes both ways.
It’s authenticity and vulnerability that have enabled our Sophos MDR leaders to build trust and establish productive communication channels with our team. It’s what has created a culture in which people feel comfortable sharing their “two-cents” to the conversation, which helps expand ideas and creativity.
Authenticity impacts employee performance, job satisfaction, and engagement. When leaders show true character and authenticity, they gain trust from employees. Then employees develop a mindset that makes them feel they are part of something special that they don’t want to lose. The Sophos MDR culture is one where we respect one another, show empathy, and ensure everyone feels a sense of belonging.
Here are the key factors, enabled by our leadership, that make it awfully hard to think about being anywhere else:
- Strong feeling of belonging in any discussion – No matter what role or title an individual has, everyone is encouraged to participate and add thoughts and opinions. No one tries to prevent others from speaking up. This is an environment where creative ideas shine and productivity sets in.
- Knowing the company has your back – Success and failure is a normal part of growth. Everyone knows this on the Sophos MDR team and that creates confidence right out of the gate. Mistakes along the way are viewed as learnings and not a black mark on your performance. Feedback is welcomed, because it isn’t treated as a negative and doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a good job. It’s about providing awareness of what happened, what could have been done differently, and taking it in as a growth opportunity.
As leaders, we encourage employee confidence at the start and build trust in the management team so that when they stumble they are supported by their leaders. This is how our team handles communication when someone puts effort into working on something and makes a mistake along the way.
- An authentic workplace – This is one of the most critical parts of any work environment. Communications are natural and easy, not forced. Encouraging employees to be real is something special and builds trust. Imagine going home to your family after a long day of work and everyone just performs an act. This would be awkward and uncomfortable. Within the workplace, this is just as important. The Sophos MDR team encourages everyone to be authentic and communicate as such.
- Space to make decisions – It’s important to be able to process things around you and to develop your own work style. If you have someone tapping you on the shoulder every five minutes, this doesn’t allow individual processing time and an opportunity for learning and growth. This doesn’t mean the team isn’t there for support or doesn’t track performance. It means that we also focus on self-development and behavioral trends.
Several years in, we continue to have an extremely healthy work culture that enables everyone to do their best, enjoy what they are doing, and be their own person. Even though threat detection and response can be stressful, we push past those difficulties every day and make light of the stress. At Sophos, we remember that we are a team and are in this together. No one can stop us!