How to Build a Best Place to Work

August 23, 2023

It’s been a dream of mine to build a company and be a CEO. In my current role as a Founder and CEO, I feel like I am on my exact right path, a dream come true. I remember when I was early in my career and I consumed so many books and articles and information–I learned so much and grew very quickly. The combination of ambition, curiosity, and excitement around the work I was doing drove me intrinsically to stay on the cutting edge, the “bleeding edge.”

Inc Magazine was a go-to for me, always inspirational, aspirational, and encouraging as I learned about marketing, scaling businesses, and becoming a people leader. I’m still learning about all these things!

At Pando, we have been so heads down working with customers and innovating new and agile ways to drive employee performance and dispel the current paradigm of performance management, that we didn’t even have a chance to fully celebrate or even announce that this year we won “Inc Best Places to Work.” I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

It’s an achievement for everyone at Pando, and all who have contributed to the vision, the product, and the people here since I founded the company in late 2020. If the last couple of years have taught us anything it’s that our people, the culture we foster, and the intentions we make for how we work remain the most critical aspect to making it. 

I wanted to share some insights about how we’ve built a Best Place to Work. And why, no matter how big you are, the sooner you build an intentional approach to how you’ll scale your company, the better. Because even if you think you’re too small to focus on that work, you’re not. The foundation you lay from the beginning directly shapes how your company evolves, navigates, adapts, and bounces back (or doesn’t) from challenges. 

Over the last three years, we’ve seen a pandemic, a heartbreaking amount of civil and social injustices, bank failures, company failures, and a crazy amount of market volatility, that continues to have us all on edge. The emotional toll of all that, people dealing with loss, trying to cope with world events, being laid off, rapidly shifting perspectives on life and work, scattering of the workforce, then mandatory back-to-office policies…the list goes on.

Change is constant, and it's something we’ve all embraced as our normal at this point, but we’ve also all been challenged in new ways, and collectively over the last several years like never before. So what does it take to build a best place to work, a workplace that can be resilient and persevere? A place where not only can people navigate tumultuous times, but actually thrive in them. 

Human-centered, mission first 

This means prioritizing employees' well-being and fostering an inclusive culture that values diversity while staying dedicated to and creating clarity and alignment around a meaningful mission that guides the company and your people every day. 

What Pando does: Our mission is to level the playing field and unlock the full potential of all employees. People perks: Unlimited vacation, paid parental leave, 401k, flexible working hours.

Plan for growth with your first hire

As soon as you start hiring, make sure you establish distinct job levels and provide a transparent roadmap for how individuals can progress within your organization, setting the foundation for a culture of career development and growth from the very beginning.

What Pando does: Since our first hire we had a leveling framework and comp bands, and clarity for all employees around expectations and growth path. We are building for that after all.

Intentionally design how you work 

If you’re working in remote or distributed teams, this is more critical than ever. Leverage methodologies (like agile) across your company to help folks align around the cadences of work that leave room for flexibility (i.e. working hours). Craft company-specific “ceremonies” and norms to create belonging and closeness for team members who are otherwise isolated. 

What Pando does: Bi-weekly all-hands meetings, monthly “brunch” socials (food and games), monthly debt day (work on what you want), quarterly builders workshop (everyone contributes ideas to product challenges), retros, designated slack channels, meeting-free days.

Give everyone a voice

Cultivate an environment where all team members feel they are a part of something, they are included and they are encouraged to share ideas, concerns, and feedback. This will foster a strong culture of collaboration, innovation, and a sense of ownership shaping the company's trajectory.

What Pando does: Team surveys, team offsites where everyone is included in discussions around how we work and what we are working on, Feedback Fridays, and generally creating a lot of space synchronously or asynchronously for folks to give their opinions. 

Be authentic, and “stick to your guns” 

As a company-builder, it’s important to consistently embody your values, beliefs, and actions (and be vulnerable in the reality of who you are) while also resolutely maintaining core principles and decisions. For Pando, this means that while we get requests to make changes in the product, sometimes we say no because it goes against our core values or mission. 

I am so honored and grateful for Pando to have been recognized as an Inc Best Place to Work. This recognition underscores our commitment to fostering a dynamic and supportive environment. I am incredibly thankful to every past and present everyone who has made Pando a truly exceptional place to work. I also want to thank all our customers, external advisors, advocates, and supporters–it’s a community we are building and a major paradigm shift we are driving and we couldn’t do it without you.