In our third episode, we’re chatting to Janette Martin, of Talos360 about company culture. Recently ranked the number five best workplace in tech, we asked her, how did she manage to create such a standout culture.
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Fiona: In our third episode, we’re chatting to Janette Martin, CEO of Talos360 about company culture. Talos360 was recently ranked the number five best workplace in tech. So, we asked her, how did she, as a leader, manage to create such a standout culture in the market.
Janette: We are really proud of our accolades and, you know, fifth-best workplace in tech. I think, at Talos360, we all play a part in our culture and the business we want to be, and we all know that we have a responsibility to nurture that. I hope I play a reasonable part in this. I hope that my passion, and my values, my commitment to the culture are part of what inspires both my leadership community, who have impact across everyone, across the business, and that every one of our people wants to make the effort to do the same. I think we focus very much on our values, and we have our values of creativity, simplicity, collaboration, and success. And we live and breathe by them, we do our excellence awards every quarter of everyone who has demonstrated living by those values.
We have fun, you know, we focus a lot on having fun. We work hard but we have a lot of fun along the way, and I think that connectivity that everyone has in working towards the same goal. So, it’s completely acceptable across our business to challenge each other in, are we doing that in the right way, is there a better way to do it? That means we’re always getting better and always working and challenging ourselves to do just that. I think we all understand the part that we play, it’s not all down to me, I hope I have a big impact, but it’s every single person in the business that plays their part.
Fiona: If there are other CEOs listening who have company values, but they might feel more like something that sits on the wall and not something that’s lived and breathed in the company – is there anything that you’ve learned to really kind of embed that in the whole company culture from top-down, but also from bottom-up?
Janette: We make it very real. It is on our walls, but we make it very real. We link it into people’s objectives that we talk about on a monthly basis. We have our quarterly awards around it. Around the business we’re celebrating those, kind of, spot achievements when we see people doing it. It really has become an integral part of how we live and breathe every day. But that takes work. It’s hard work. It doesn’t just happen overnight. You can’t just come up with the words and hope that everybody buys into it. It takes time and it takes work. I think if you’ve got the right team of people and the right culture, then that gets embraced, and it does become part of every day.
Fiona: Talos360, it’s currently in the LDC portfolio. I know Iris Software also has a PE backer while you were there as chief transformation officer. What has been your biggest learning about private equity during your career?
Janette: I think what I’ve learned is that working with people that have shared values, and shared vision and you’re aligned on your end goals is so important to achieving those goals both personally and professionally. And that is ever so important in the private equity world. I enjoy the way that private equity thinks. I like the data points that they look at and the lens in which they view businesses. For me, I’m always learning, so, I think if you’ve got the right partner, it can be a really supportive partnership. They’re there to help you, to support you. You get great debate to work through the strategies, and the plans, and what’s the best way forward. It’s like having a team entirely there to support you. It can be quite lonely as a CEO, so having that team around you that’s there to support you, can be really, really helpful. Their expectations are high, rightly so. They’ve invested in your business. You do have to be ready for that. But I think it comes down to working with the right partner. It can be a really exciting journey. You make such a strong network of knowledgeable people, and everyone’s striving for success.
Fiona: Throughout the podcast, you’ve mentioned shared values and vision quite a lot in terms of how you’ve managed to find people for your leadership team that are right for the business in terms of how you inspire the team, like, the wider team across the business, and also then with a private equity partner. How do you get to the crux of the question of whether we have shared values and vision quickly? Because you’re growing at pace, but you also want to get to the right solution. Is there anything that you use or any tactics to make sure that is shared between you and the people you work with?
Janette: It’s understanding where you want to get to, understanding what is important, and what those end goals are. And I think it’s involving people in the creation of that. I think it’s communicating that regularly. You know, you can’t just create a vision and create an end goal and say it once, it’s got to be part of the everyday that you’re striving for. The how you get there is the values piece, how do we get to those goals? What is the right way to treat each other on that journey? What is the right way to think? That collaboration is so important, keeping it simple, and not making it complicated is so important. Do we challenge ourselves on that? Are we allowed to challenge ourselves on that, creating that culture that makes it okay in the right way to challenge each other, and then create that place for reward and recognition around living and breathing those values and the success of achieving those goals?
Fiona: We’ve definitely found, at ECI, of our values…actually, one of our values is collaborative as well, so we’re aligned on that. We’ve found that the more authentic the values are, the easier that all becomes. So, actually, they’re true to who we are as a business, not just something aspirational, which means it’s much easier to embed it into things like your hiring processes and how you reward and recognise people, like you say. So, that’s definitely something that we’ve found that makes that easier. So, what’s next for Talos360? What’s coming up in the pipeline?
Janette: I think there’s lots of exciting things at Talos360, and we continue to have product innovation. We’re really proud of the impact that we have for our customers and across the UK workforce in terms of attracting that right talent for businesses. We have our engagement software that I use across our business that’s helped us be so successful in creating an engaged workforce who are committed to the values and the vision. So, we’re constantly working on our product innovation.
Fiona: And the last question from me, so what is your top advice for CEOs or entrepreneurs when it comes to building successful businesses?
Janette: I think my top five things would be people. I’ve talked a lot about that, you know, you’ve got to get that right. I think product: know your market, know your customers, know the problems you solve, do it well. That vision is so important. Have everybody on the journey with you. And then I think probably a couple of things I would add is around courage. I think you’ve got to be courageous. You’ve got to trust your instincts, listen to your team, and make decisions. It’s better to get on with things and learn if it doesn’t work than do nothing. Most of the time you’ll find it does or it at least evolves into something that does work, but have pace and make decisions. Certainly, as someone coming into a smaller business and wanting to grow that business, watch your cash. You’ve got to know, from a break-even point, what your cash is versus your sales coming in, your costs going out. So, you can keep an eye on your cash, then everything else can work around you.
Fiona: Well, Janette, thanks so much for joining me today. It was great to hear not only how your product is helping around things like employee engagement and teams but it’s clear that it’s something that Talos360 takes to heart as well. A real emphasis around people, vision, and values. So, it sounds like no surprise that you guys are seen as a top place to work. So, thank you so much for joining me today.
Janette: Thank you so much for having me.