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When I interview candidates for jobs at 3Q, they often ask me “What is it you like most about 3Q?” and “How have you maintained the culture as you grow?” The first question is difficult for me to answer succinctly – even after being asked the question tens if not hundreds of times – so I’ll get back to that. But the second question, that’s easier for me to answer: we’ve maintained our culture by continuously asking for and acting on feedback from all 3Qers; by being purposeful in trying to create connections between employees spread across multiple geos (now multiple continents) and teams; by operating under the belief that whatever we’re doing, we can be doing it better; by empowering each office to have its own unique micro-culture; and by hiring people who are passionate not only about their own growth and success, but also their teams, clients, and communities.
But maintaining a great culture while growing a company doesn’t happen without hard work, thoughtful consideration, and engaged employees. Every 3Qer participates in building and growing our culture in a number of ways, including participation in our employee committees, helping out colleagues across the country that they don’t even know, discovering shared interests through our employee-driven Slack channels, serving their community through 3Q3%, dressing up for Spirit Days, volunteering to be a buddy for a new hire, and providing feedback through the Employee Voice Survey. The feedback we get from committees, surveys, and individual employees gives the leadership team important insight into what we’re doing well as an organization and where we need to improve, and it helps build the roadmap for future enhancements to the employee experience at 3Q.
While our culture has been recognized by industry awards in the past, the honor of making AdAge’s Best Places to Work 2020 list is especially meaningful to me because it comes on the heels of a year full of change for 3Q, more than we’d ever seen before.
For people like myself who’ve been with the company for some time, change is nothing new – it’s an inevitable part of being a growing company. But 2019 was a year unlike any other for us. It was a year of highs, including taking a growth investment from two fantastic PE firms, being recognized on the Inc. Best Places to Work 2019 list and as the winner of the first-ever US Search Diversity, Inclusion & Equality Award, bringing on new executive leadership and further diversifying our executive leadership team, launching our first international offices in Dublin and Singapore, and opening amazing new offices in San Diego and Charlottesville. But all of this exciting growth and development was tempered by some big challenges as well, most notably an agency reorganization that resulted in the departure of some really wonderful human beings and coworkers.
All of that change understandably made some 3Qers nervous and others very frustrated. We heard from employees in All Hands meetings, on Glassdoor, and in our Employee Voice Survey, and we learned some important lessons about how to communicate change with our rapidly growing employee base. It was a humbling experience for many of us on the Executive team, and I’m not going to lie – there were times when I worried that the 3Q I have known and loved for 10+ years might not survive all this change.
But then we got news of the AdAge award, which was based on anonymous employee feedback that was collected amidst a lot of this change. It reminded me that the most frustrated employees are often the loudest (which is a good thing – we need to know if employees aren’t happy), and that the fundamental reasons employees love 3Q hadn’t changed.
So, going back to that question I get asked in interviews: what do I like most about 3Q? It’s difficult for me to answer; not because I can’t think of an answer, but because I can’t think of just one. There are a lot of reasons to love working at 3Q, and why I believe, despite the many changes and challenges of 2019, our employees voted us onto the “Best Places to Work” list. To name a few:
- Being surrounded by good people. And I really do mean good. We’ve done a phenomenal job of finding people who are smart, ambitious, and passionate about growth – but not at the expense of others. We champion each other’s successes, we are willing to take time to help others in the org, and we take time to volunteer in our communities.
- The ability to grow and shift roles – many of us in the company (including myself and others on my team) have been able to move into different career paths, and we’ve helped hundreds of people launch their career in digital marketing. I am so proud when I see people who started their career with us now serving as senior leaders in our own org or outside the company.
- Being treated as an adult, trusted to make the right decisions, and given a ton of flexibility in where and when we work – the unlimited PTO, flex hours, and work from home allow me to fit work around my life, and not the other way around.
- An open and accessible leadership team. There are no corner offices at 3Q – the execs sit out in the open with the rest of the team. And while our CEO explicitly schedules 1:1s with everyone in the company, all of our execs are reachable and open to meetings with anyone, any time. And the feedback that comes out of these meetings often leads to discussions among the larger executive team, and real change for 3Q.
This award gives the 3Q People and leadership teams, as well as every 3Qer, a lot to be proud of. It’s an important reminder of the great company and culture we have built together. But we know that we can do better, and we know that as we continue to grow and evolve, it will be ever more challenging to ensure 3Q is a great place to work for all. How will we do it? By continuing to recruit amazing people who believe as much in the growth and development of others as they do in their own, by building out more training and growth opportunities for our people, by listening more and talking less when it comes to change, by always looking for new ways to support our employees as humans with lives and responsibilities outside of work, and by ensuring every person always has a voice at 3Q.