As the chief people officer of kwx, Mark Foley not only understands but spotlights the value of culture within the workplace. With over 30 years’ experience in human resources and 10 years’ experience leading human resources for 24 Hour Fitness and Raley’s, a family-owned grocery chain in California, Foley is no stranger to the personalized nature of relationships that characterizes Keller Williams. In fact, he has jumped headfirst into strengthening these types of bonds across kwx’s primarily remote workforce.
“The world of business and how we work has changed dramatically since the start of COVID-19 and is here to stay,” Foley says. “Learning how to work in a flexible work environment continues to be at the forefront of my thoughts. The questions I’m asking myself are: How do we create community? How do we continue to connect and engage with our teams in different ways, and how do we better understand what’s going on with our team members during these challenging times?” We are fortunate at Keller Williams to have a strong, embedded belief system, the WI4C2TES, that defines who we are and how we act.
With that in mind, Foley believes team members want to work for leaders who provide them hope, trust, compassion, and stability. Chatting with Outfront, Foley reveals that creating a thriving workplace culture that evokes such feelings, and continues to attract and retain the right talent, rests in five important leadership commitments.
1. Care about team members as people first. Supporting the well-being of your team members by caring about their overall wellness. At Keller Williams, there is a culture of God, then family, then business, that is practiced starting at the highest level of leadership and makes its way throughout the organization. This goes beyond asking how the family is doing. It is prioritizing the health and safety of team members and their families. “The decision by Gary Keller to cancel the live portion of Mega Camp speaks volumes about the type of leader we work for,” shares Foley. “He placed the safety of our team members and our partners first.”
2. Build trust. People want to understand why things are happening and how it impacts them. It’s important to explain the reasons behind our actions. To that extent, kwx has built community through town halls led by CEO Carl Liebert, President of Financial Services Dave Smith, and President of KWRI Marc King, where the team is updated on discussions and decisions happening at the leadership level, and is invited to come forth with any questions. “It’s one way of earning the trust of our team members so that they can feel more connected to One Team, One Mission,” Foley says.
3. Celebrate success with thoughtful recognition. People want to be recognized for the value they bring and the contributions they make to the organization’s success. Leaders can do this through meaningful recognition. This can be done one-on-one or in group settings, in-person or over Zoom, through the Slack channel, or even during a town hall. Any setting that best meets the individual’s preference.
4. Empower career development. It’s important to understand our team members’ desires, strengths, and career aspirations. Most learning happens on the job; we want to place people in situations where they can learn, grow, and reach their full potential, shares Foley.
5. Respect individuality. It is important to understand and accept diverse perspectives and value what makes people unique. “That’s how we will create a more inclusive workplace,” Foley says. “By accepting people for who they are and avoiding being judgmental or dismissive. What we need to continue to do as an organization is create a community where people feel like they belong and can thrive. Gary Keller himself has been vocal about his and the company’s lack of tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are constantly at the center of the conversation.
While the workplace continues to evolve, a core principle will always remain true – people are seeking meaning and personal satisfaction from their work. If you embody your core beliefs and lead through these commitments, Foley is confident you, like Keller Williams, can continue to attract and retain top talent.