Last updated at Mon, 14 Nov 2022 20:09:27 GMT

Have you checked in on the overall health of your team lately?

What would a new hire think of your current team?

Companies all over the world – particularly those of the higher-profile variety – tout their positive cultures and how great it is to be part of the team. This is especially true in the age of social media, when groups and teams within companies frequently post about what they’re doing to make the company a better place to work and move positive initiatives forward. But what a shrewd potential hire should really be looking for is a culture with true depth, not just a social media presence.

The United States Navy is a great practitioner and example of this true depth of culture in the way they recruit for the famed SEAL Team Six. New members aren’t chosen solely on past performance, even if they’re the best of the best. They’re chosen based on performance and their ability to be trusted, with even lower performers sometimes chosen due to the fact they can be trusted more so than others.

If a potential new hire – whose work history indicated high performance and high trust – was on interview number two or three and came in to meet with several members of your current team to get a feel for the overall culture, what would that person think at the conclusion of those meetings? With that consideration in mind, think about the culture of your current team and if it’s an environment that would attract or repel prospective talent.

SOCulture

Working in a SOC is quite different from working in a flower shop. It’s true that there are certain hallmarks of camaraderie that are repeatable across industries. But cybersecurity is different. Practitioners in our industry have an incredible responsibility on their shoulders. Some providers simply alert you to trouble – think of it like a fire department that alerts you that your house is on fire – but the best ones contain the threats. And the best ones are where talent wants to be. So, what are some tangible actions we know will make analysts consider your SOC a great and happy place to work?

  • Engage your team – This doesn’t have to be some sort of program with a name or anything official. Happy hours, coffee breaks, team lunches, conversations; this type of camaraderie may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how quickly team culture can fall by the wayside in favor of simply getting the work done and then going home. Even something like reserving the first 20 minutes of your regular Wednesday all-team check-in to talk about anything other than work can become something memorable your team looks forward to.
  • Put the human above the role – Even while everyone is heads down on an ETR, there’s always time to be motivational, positive, and celebrate the small wins. That doesn’t mean you have to throw a pizza happy hour every time your team does their jobs well, but positive reinforcement is a must. While everyone deserves a fair salary and to be compensated appropriately for their time and doing their job well, there are those talented individuals driven more by recognition for a job well done than by salary. And you don’t want to see those individuals begin to feel like just another cog in the machine – and then eventually leave.    
  • Commit to cybersecurity, not conflict – According to last year’s ESG Research Report, The Life and Times of Cybersecurity Professionals, those professionals find organizations most attractive that are actually committed to cybersecurity. 43% of individuals surveyed for the report stated that the biggest factor determining job satisfaction is business management’s commitment to strong cybersecurity. It’s great if you consider a candidate a strong fit, but how’s your team’s relationships with other teams? Would that candidate see themselves as a fit amongst those dynamics?  
  • Promote a healthy team with a healthy dose of DEI – In that same ESG report, 21% of survey respondents said that one of the biggest ways the cybersecurity skills shortage impacted their team was that their organization tended not to seek out qualified applicants with more diverse backgrounds; they simply wanted what they considered the perfect fit. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) should be something that attracts great talent and that is ultimately reflected in the culture. Candidates should feel they aren’t being sold a “false bill of goods.” Show them that everyone has an equal shot at opportunities, pay, and having a say in the actions of your SOC.

Implement and complement

It’s not an overnight thing to tweak certain aspects of your culture to address issues with your current team, nor is it a fast-ask to to attract great talent and retain them far into the future. Talking to your team, engaging them with tools like surveys and open dialogue can begin to yield an actionable plan that you can take all the way to the job listing and the words you use in it. The key to being successful is to be genuine in your approach to building a culture that is inclusive, engaging, and fun.

The culture fit can also extend to partnerships. If you’re thinking of engaging a managed services partner to help you fill certain holes in the cybersecurity skills gap that may be affecting your own organization, it’s important to thoroughly vet that vendor. Much like partnering with a new hire in the quest to thwart attackers, implementing a long-term partnership with a managed services provider can complement your existing SOC for years to come. But it has to be a good fit: Is the provider dependable? Is there a 24/7 number you can call when you need immediate assistance? Beyond that, do your companies share similar values and ethical concerns?

You can learn more in our new eBook, 13 Tips for Overcoming the Cybersecurity Talent Shortage. It’s a deeper dive into the current cybersecurity skills gap and features steps you can take to address talent shortages. It also considers your current culture and its ability to amplify voices so that, together, you can extinguish the most critical threats. You can also check out the previous entry in this blog series here.