On behalf of the ProductPlan team, we are excited and honored to share some exciting news. Along with the honor of getting certified as a Great Place to Work (May 2021—May 2022), we earned the recognition of Fortune’s 2021 Best (Small or Medium) Workplaces.
Although one of our team’s values is humility, I wanted to take a moment to say, “heck yeah!” Thank you to the entirety of the team for your efforts navigating this past year.
What Did This Year Look like for ProductPlan?
Like many companies, we practically learned overnight how to manage our business differently with the onset of the pandemic. The process of placing our operating practices and guiding principles under a microscope allowed us to solidify what was working well and what we needed to improve.
In particular, we saw the need to be more intentional about how we build a great culture. ProductPlan believes how employees act when nobody is looking defines company culture. We felt strong values of alignment become even more critical in a world where our team is all working remotely. We also know people want to work alongside people they trust and inspire them to be the best version of themselves.
Strong values alignment becomes even more critical as a company scales and growth accelerates, where ProductPlan currently finds itself. In the past year alone, the business doubled in size. We released several key product enhancements. Product organizations utilized these enhancements to help simplify the shipment of products.
What’s Our Secret Sauce?
So how did we win Fortune’s 2021 Best (Small or Medium) Workplaces over the ten thousand contending companies? We believe a key was really clarifying and subsequently living by those values that bind us.
ProductPlan’s core values assist in recognition as one of Fortune’s great places to work.
- Hustle: We’re passionate about what we’re doing. But we hustle to preserve time with our friends and family. We empower employees to own the outcome. We encourage them to want to win because it means we are making an impact as a whole.
- Humility: We listen first and ask questions when we don’t have the answers. We approach interactions and problems with curiosity and adjust our course when needed.
- Heart: We want our work to have meaning, and we care deeply for our team, our customers, and our society at large. We embrace the visible and invisible differences to create a place where people feel safe speaking plainly and being the best version of themselves.
“I’m really proud of how the team exemplifies Hustle, Humility, and Heart every day. We help our colleagues’ career paths grow and develop. I’ve loved getting to see team members get the chance to move into different teams and get promoted into new roles from a manager of customer success, becoming a product manager to a customer success manager, becoming a sales engineer. Seeing folks get the chance to spread their wings, try something new, and move forward is core to what I think Hustle, Humility, and Heart mean in our workplace.” – Diana Ciontea – Finance
“We work with real people. We’re not just numbers and jobs to be done. The team gets to know each other and spends time caring about each other’s interests, and there’s trust built there. I trust that my colleagues are putting in their heart, with humility and they’re hustling in everything they do that helps us remember that we’re all people behind the job.” – Nick Fields – Product management
[VIDEO on Heart Humility and Hustle]
Fostering Connection at ProductPlan
After the Black Lives Matter protests, we came together as a company to openly share how people were feeling. It was particularly moving to hear people speak plainly about what this topic meant to them while also serving as a time to catalog our practices. These conversations inspired the creation of our diversity and inclusion task force. This cross-functional collaboration has spawned various initiatives, including mental health days, a fundraiser for disadvantaged children, and a fresh look at the hiring process.
ProductPlan’s biannual “Fest.”
Another critical moment for our team was launching our first, all remote, teamwide gathering we call Fest. In the past, Fest represented a biannual event where in-office and remote coworkers would convene for social and educational activities. Activities included presentations from customers to lightning talks where employees volunteer to present on a topic of passion and trivia at a local brewery, to name a few. This event represented a great way to cultivate strong team alignment, especially since most of our team lives outside Santa Barbara. As we all know, large in-person gatherings weren’t on the agenda this past year, so we had to improvise.
The process of building a weeklong schedule to support a 100% remote Fest helped flesh out many of the lingering habits ingrained from in-office work that didn’t support remote workers. While we all look forward to a face-to-face Fest again, we believe the emphasis on learning how to do remote work well sets us up for longer-term success.
Inspired by feedback from our team, we have since launched a mentorship program and a Culture, Collaboration, and Connection (CCC) monthly meetup. At CCC, in a small group setting, we tackle various topics ranging from the company’s long-term strategy to learning more about each other’s interests outside of work.
Trust and Strategy at ProductPlan
Some of us may have worked in lower trust or what some may call ‘political’ environments. People often expend unnecessary energy in the wrong areas. Also, those environments tend to stifle open communication among teams. We believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere. Consequently, it is incumbent upon our organization to ensure processes amplify and encourage the sharing of information.
A great example is how information our team gathers from customers finds its way into our product prioritization process. The bulk of our team is talking with our customers every day. Harnessing and channeling insights from these conversations is foundational to our strategy especially given how quickly the product management space evolves.
Trust, or a lack thereof, is something we know product managers often grapple with internally. Often, they feel frustrated conveying to stakeholders how and why things need prioritization. Ultimately, we see our role at ProductPlan as helping our customers instill greater trust within their own organization.
“It feels like my input is valued here. We work hard, but we love the work we’re doing because we know it’s positively impacting on ourselves, our customers, and the world.” – Sierra Newell – Marketing
“I know when I come in, I can be my authentic self. I’m welcomed and valued for that. I can walk in the door and don’t have to be a different person. I can be who I am, and everyone respects and values me at ProductPlan. I can flourish and be happy and fulfilled because I can be myself at the end of the day. – Damon Navo – Customer Success
Final Thoughts on Fortune’s Great Places to Work
Being recognized as one of Fortune’s great places to work is a tremendous honor, especially in light of the challenges brought about over the past year. We also believe much of our success is still in front of us as we continue our journey to help product organizations simplify the product life cycle and build organizational trust.
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