Impraise is really a key way to develop our people.
Impraise is really a key way to develop our people.
Karen Miller - Chief People Officer

Background

Pond5 is reinventing the online marketplace for high-quality videos, images, music, sound effects, motion graphics templates and 3D models. The company fuels creativity by empowering media makers on both sides of the market: artists who are contributing their work, and customers who are using it for their own creative projects. Representative of Pond5’s artistic work culture, putting artists first is a core company value.

For its employees, Pond5 provides an environment that allows a lot of freedom with responsibility. With a team that spans three international offices, Pond5 attributes a major part of its success to the diverse perspectives and creative minds that a global staff can offer. While this environment creates the perfect incubator for ideas, it also presents its own set of challenges.

 

Challenge

The success of Pond5’s business model led to a major increase in funding, and as a result, the company recently launched a new brand with a range of product enhancements and an exciting new membership package. To support this growth, Pond5 has been rapidly growing in size and investing in its team members.

In order to stay agile and grow sustainably, they wanted to make sure their people had clear expectations and were getting feedback and direction. Another concern was ensuring that they continued to maintain their vibrant artist-focused culture by reinforcing their values as they scaled.

In addition, Pond5 was committed to leveraging cultural differences across its diverse population. This meant understanding and appreciating differences in the frequency and ways that people gave and received feedback, while providing enough direction to ensure an approach that worked for all. According to Chief People Officer Karen Miller, “It was challenging for some people to give direct performance feedback; they didn’t know what to say and how to say it.” This meant that people weren’t always getting the development support they needed.

To tackle these challenges, they put a strong management network in place, but still needed to equip managers with the appropriate tools to effectively manage talent. Miller explained:

 

 

We didn’t have a system in place and we wanted a way to do multiple things. First, we wanted to make sure people were getting performance feedback to grow and develop. We wanted a way to reinforce our values as we grow. Finally, we wanted to have good insights into our talent so we could calibrate across the organization. As a global company, this would help us understand who our highest performers are, how we can leverage them, and who needs extra coaching.
— Karen Miller, Chief People Officer

 

Solution

Miller’s team sought to provide as much education as possible before introducing Impraise. To prepare managers, they devoted training time to best practices around giving and receiving feedback. They also used part of their company-wide meetings to make sure everyone understood the process and had a chance to ask questions. Some questions included: “How will feedback be used? Who will see it? What is this for?” By explaining the process and how the data would be used, people were very open to it.

A top priority for Miller’s team was that they structure the process around Pond5’s company values, to really reinforce and strengthen them. “So when we say we value being open and positive, for example, we’d like to know how people are able to demonstrate that value in their day-to-day work at Pond5,” said Miller. “So we ask individuals, their managers, and others to comment not only on their effectiveness in being open and positive, but to share specific examples of how doing so has impacted their work or our environment.” It was also important that these values were reinforced on a regular basis. Miller explained,

 

We didn’t want it to be all about a one-time annual review. One of the strengths of Impraise is that it really focuses on constant real-time feedback. What we wanted was a way to give really good feedback directly to each other throughout the year. This way when it comes time to sit down at this big end-of-year event, there are no surprises, as people had lots of opportunities throughout the year to receive feedback. We started with an annual review event, and going forward, our hope is to have more ongoing, frequent opportunities for feedback.
— Karen Miller, Chief People Officer

 

Results

According to Miller, “Impraise was really well received; people were appreciative of getting the chance to share what they had been up to. What I hear from team members here is that it’s really friendly and very easy to use; it's very intuitive and not time-consuming. Not only is it easy to use, but it also forces some good feedback that might not otherwise surface.” This is particularly important in a growing international  team: “I think when you’re global and dispersed, it’s really important that people know what you’re doing and that you get credit for it.”  

For Pond5’s People Team, Impraise was essential in helping them reach their key objectives: “Our goal as a team is to attract, develop, engage, and retain great people,” said Miller. “To me, Impraise is really a key way to develop our people and ensure the organization can use feedback to continue to provide great opportunities for them. It also helps us to retain and engage people, by clarifying performance expectations and reinforcing a culture of feedback and recognition.”

When asked how Miller’s team will use the data generated by Impraise, Miller explained, “First and foremost, the data is for individuals for their own growth and development. For the People Team, it's also a helpful reference point. If a manager raises a performance concern about an individual, for example, we can use Impraise both as a reference and as a way of ensuring that any relevant feedback is documented and shared. As we grow, we’re creating more opportunities for people to take on new assignments, promotions, and responsibilities, and we want to make sure there’s a way for them to get good feedback on that. Having more objective data on how we make those decisions is really helpful for any HR department.”