How we put our people at the centre of everything we do
Written by Will Ashton, CEO at Nest
10th November, 2020
Hello and thanks for taking the time to read this.
I thought it would be useful for me to put down a few thoughts on why I believe that Nest Performance is a great home, particularly for those of you who are relatively close to the start of your careers.
I remember when I was starting out, it was very difficult to get a good, in-depth take on potential employers so hopefully, I can plug that gap on Nest’s behalf.
Although I’m highly biased, I think the best place to start is with the values and ambitions of the founders. That sounds very self-centred, but bear in mind we are a founder-led business, with no outside investors or shareholders, so our principles and beliefs are important in shaping the company’s direction.
How we run our agency
Luke, Stefan and I started Nest three years ago.
We are ambitious and driven people but at the same time we feel well-grounded. We all have young families and a major reason for wanting to start our own business was to create a working environment which could facilitate a balanced lifestyle. Because we believe in fairness, if we try to cultivate this lifestyle for ourselves, we do so for our team as well.
Since we started, the company has worked office hours of 10-5. The idea being that you don’t need to physically be in the office in order to do a good job. Before COVID hit, we worked from home every Wednesday. As we grow the business, the key challenge remains – how can we grow by working smarter, not longer?
As a founding team our background skews far more towards operations than sales and this is reflected in how we think about the business. We also learnt our trade at organisations built for scale such as Google and Facebook.
As such, we focus a lot on how we can improve our processes and efficiencies in order to reduce the workload on our team and ultimately maintain ourselves as a high-performing yet balanced unit.
The agency world has a reputation for high workload, high staff burnout rates and therefore high staff churn. We want to create the opposite of this; a happy and engaged workplace where people enjoy what they do and who they do it with. Therefore a smart approach to questions around growth, service and wellbeing is essential.
This doesn’t mean we don’t want to grow. We have had a fantastic last 12 months, with the business doubling in both revenue and headcount since April 2020. Our plan for next year it to nearly double again. We are acquiring new clients every month and are very optimistic for the future.
However, there is an important subtext to this. We only want to grow in a sustainable way. We need to make sure we can service our clients effectively and that can only happen if we grow in step with the amount of resource we have. If we overreach we won’t be able to run effective campaigns, our reputation will suffer and new clients will dry up.
How we develop our employees
How does this balanced growth translate to opportunities for our people?
The very fact that we’re growing so quickly naturally opens up a tonne of opportunity for progression. We have doubled the number of pods (units of 5 people working across a portfolio of clients) this year with two Heads of Delivery (team leads) being internal promotions.
We operate a true meritocracy and have promoted high performers within 9 months. Our strong preference is to develop from within and you can see examples of this all over the company. If you’re in the team and you’re performing well, you will have plenty of opportunities for progression.
For those who make management, we have extensive leadership training programmes. Unlike many companies who rely on their staff to work it out and put people in management because they have performed well in their day job, we recognise that management is a very different beast to running campaigns and client servicing and support our new managers accordingly.
The other effect of this is that from the point of your joining, you will be well-managed. We are strong believers in a hands-off management approach, preferring to hire people who are motivated from within and driven by an innate desire to do well; in that sense, our managers are there to facilitate not control.
The emphasis on training and development is evident from day one. We have a constantly evolving onboarding programme designed to get you up to speed on how we run our campaigns. Allied to that, we provide modules on a number of adjacent subjects within digital marketing such as attribution and measurement.
We also regularly have external speakers speak to the team on a variety of topics, all of which is designed to make you the best at what you do whilst providing context and grounding in the wider digital sphere.
What’s important to us
Perhaps most importantly, everything we do is guided by the values that we have as a company.
- We are commercially aware; we take pride in understanding our client’s businesses and wider goals
- We are proactive; we take the initiative to look for opportunities for our clients and improve our internal processes
- We are expert; we are masters in our field, embrace new ideas and constantly seek to stay ahead of the curve
- We are problem solvers; we take ownership of issues and look to resolve them ourselves
- We are empathetic; we are considerate, personable and friendly, and look to help people both inside and outside the company
- We are honest; we act with integrity and always in the best interests of our clients
There’s plenty more I could say about our packages, benefits, our employee profit pool as well as the specifics around our strategies for growth but hopefully, this is a good taster of what it means to work at Nest Performance.