One of Nested’s project managers Stephanie takes us through how Nested’s culture allows her to do her best work
But I’m also a bit of a productivity and culture fanatic, having worked as a Customer Success Manager at Yammer where I learnt a lot about how organisations change, communicate and get work done. I’ve also written previously about how my last company did some really great things to drive transparency (See here).
So I thought I’d share a few of my favourite things Nested does that help us work a bit differently (and IMO smarter).
Every Wednesday most people at Nested work from home (or wherever they want). The natural consequence of this is that meetings on a Wednesday are at a minimum and you can get on with actioning / thinking about the rest of your work for the week (or writing a blog over lunchtime!)
I cannot emphasise enough how much I value this time. It’s probably the day when I’m the most productive and experimental as I can test things out without context-switching for meetings. Plus there’s no FOMO as pretty much everyone works from home or at least doesn’t want to have a meeting on Wednesday either. Everyone comes back in on Thursday refreshed and ready to nail the rest of the week. There’s enough trust at Nested that we don’t think people will take the p*ss and we can see from our Slack and CRM usage on these days, people don’t.
We’re a pretty fast-paced company and so slack’s communication style suits us quite well (although we still use email for longer form and tried out Workplace recently).
Most startups these days use Slack, but I’d say that the tech team at Nested make particularly great usage of integrations for the rest of our work flow, both out of the box ones (Email, Pingdom, Clubhouse, Looker, Giphy) and ones we build with Zapier to make sure we know when important things happen.
Bug Overlord built with Zapier
Sometimes I joke that we’re a House of Zaps (currently we have 76 individual zaps live), but we get *so* much value from using Zapier with other tools that they even drive really core operational processes for us, like lead assignation and reactivation alerts. Sure, we *could* build it ourselves internally with engineers but why not have a product manager or someone in the business do it so we don’t need to deploy code?
This is probably more of a cultural enhancement for me, but we not only always have a company Goal of Wow Customer Experience, we measure ourselves against it constantly. We care about the experience we give customers we can work with and those we can’t. It’s a point of pride for us that we get a lot of great comments from people who don’t use us, and it breaks our heart a little every time someone hasn’t had a good experience. But then we discuss what went wrong and how we could make it better.
We’re also obsessed with employee NPS. Our people team send out a Peakon survey every week to measure how the team feels about various aspects of life at Nested so they can measure what’s happening and have any questions answered anonymously.
Every Friday at 12 the company gets together in the office and we go through goals we’ve hit/missed, a show ’n’ tell, a customer story and questions for Matt our CEO. Every team has goals they have committed to aim for (whether it’s new instructions or launching a new webpage) but it’s a safe space to share updates and if you haven’t hit it, hey you’ve made progress and now everyone knows why.
Since arriving in January every week I’ve seen tweaks to the format of these meetings so that they’re more useful for the team. Originally we went off a spreadsheet on a tv screen that people would update, now there’s a big screen, snazzy presentation and I hear rumours of a sound system with mics now we’re so much bigger. Much of this is down to our amazing people ops team and LJ (legendary EA to Matt) but different team members have improved the sessions iteratively.
Plus afterwards there’s company lunch from a different local restaurant, which is always handy.
Matt sends an email with a summary of the week and thought of the week. A favourite from a few weeks ago was his articulation of something the Nested team do already, and now do more of: Bias to Action, If there is something wrong fix it. If you have an idea make it a reality. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what to do, just find a way to make it happen. And most of all, don’t get in the way of progress by blocking ideas. In the words of General Patton “A good plan today violently executed, is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Sometimes there will be unintended consequences but provided you believe you’re doing the right thing we prefer you ask for forgiveness than permission.
“Bias to action If there is something wrong fix it. If you have an idea make it a reality. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what to do, just find a way to make it happen.”
I’ve never worked somewhere where our operations team (including sales and risk) experiments so much. Being encouraged to try something out in a lean way, learn and then roll out is super refreshing and helps us get value to customer out faster.
Tech does this with kanban, data and feedback driven tests and elephant carpaccio, which sounds grim but is basically about delivering a small slice of value at every stage. This allows us to make decisions faster, and also keeps us nimble if we need to switch focus.