Feedback Best Practices with Clio
Clio trains lawyers to operate in the cloud by providing the most comprehensive, yet easy-to-use cloud-based practice management platform for the legal industry.
Moving from recruiting to core people operations and talent development is a common career path at growing companies. Chris Yeh found himself in that exact situation at Clio as the software company matured from a young startup into a rapidly growing company.
The HR job becomes much harder when it’s time to create a sustainable business. Instead of just trying to convince people to join the company, you also have to start building the programs to make sure that everyone onboard is productive and engaged.
“When I first moved over to talent development, the function was very nascent. It was less oriented towards development and more weighted towards traditional HR with administration and compliance. A lot of my function at that time was starting the process of building out the talent lifecycle.”
“We’re really focused on the development side of people now. It’s organizational development--we’re helping with team development, we’re doing team off-sites, we developed and designed our leadership programming all in service of developing a more human, high-performing organization.”
They had tried to manage goals in their team collaboration tools, JIRA and Confluence, but the process was too clunky to get any meaningful employee engagement. The team also had a light feedback tool that helped start a culture of positive feedback but Chris knew that Clio needed a new platform to do talent development effectively.
Chris started the search by reviewing solutions from five different vendors. He made a comprehensive list of requirements covering the latest in performance management practices.
“There are so many different tools out there right now that are trying to break into all of these places. What stood out to me about Lattice is how fast the team is building out the features that are incredibly important to performance development.”
For Chris, the user experience had to be just as good, if not better, than the feature set. “I wanted a functional tool that people actually wanted to use.”
It was Lattice’s UX that ultimately cinched it for Chris. “Some of the other tools, it felt like the user experience wasn’t a priority--they built tools with some of the right features but that doesn’t matter if it’s difficult to use and nobody wants to use it.”
“From the outset, I could see that Lattice paid a lot of attention to user interface and the user experience.”
Implementation: Feedback First
Chris decided to kick off implementation with the feedback module.
“Public feedback was really easy for people to wrap their heads around because it was very similar to our old recognition tool.”
Lattice’s Slack integration posts public praise in a company Slack channel where everyone can see it and add comments or reactions. It also allows people to submit Lattice praise directly through Slack. Users can still submit praise through Lattice itself or the Gmail or Outlook plugins but being able to submit feedback through Slack makes the process even easier.
“Adding on the Lattice Slack integration made it very public and very obvious about what this tool was meant to be for the organization,” explains Chris. “People write meaningful appreciation and feedback in Lattice and that’s what really gets people coming back. It’s highly visible and people just continue using it.”
“We include feedback training in our onboarding, in terms of describing to people what our recognition culture is like and how saying thanks to other people is an important part of feedback. Giving praise is ‘low cost’ for us as people, but is ‘high value’ for our interactions with one another.”
Chris also made sure to educate the team on how to give feedback effectively. “I subscribe to the maxim of ‘praise publicly, criticize privately.’ In some cases, people don’t want to be praised publicly and that’s why we educate managers on understanding the different ways people want to be recognized.”
“In terms of constructive feedback, we follow the recommendations from Radical Candor to be candid and caring when delivering difficult feedback and to make sure to do it in a one-on-one context instead of a large group.”
“We had peer feedback before, but, in the past, myself or a member of my team would interview all of the participants, collect all of the feedback, consolidate it all, anonymize it and then deliver it. Now with Lattice, we’re able to speed up the process of gathering and consolidating peer feedback by 10x. Now it’s less about the process of running the manual feedback cycle and more about ‘Are people writing good feedback?’, ‘How can we focus more on delivering great feedback?’“
Building the feedback foundation with public praise and private constructive feedback makes it easier to do performance reviews later because people become accustomed to giving and receiving feedback.
Clio runs performance reviews by team when the time is right. “Rather than calling it a ‘360 review’ which sounds kind of dry, we call it 'Clio Compass' because it’s meant to be the type of feedback that you get that will help orient you in the right direction.”
“We can trigger an ad-hoc Clio Compass cycle for someone when they ask for it or if we feel that the timing is right, we can trigger a Compass cycle for an entire group. For example, right now I’m going through a Compass cycle for our entire dev management group because we’ve added a few folks to the team and they’ve been working together for a while. Now that everyone has settled into their new dev teams, it’s time to get some feedback around how they’re doing.”
Goals & OKRs
Chris appreciates the flexibility of the Lattice goal module because it can support a variety of goal organization frameworks. “One thing that I love with Lattice is that you can rename the language in the application, which is a feature I requested when we first started using the tool. For example, our goals are ‘OKRs’ and we’re able to change the display name from ‘goals’ to ‘OKRs’ in the application to make Lattice the one-stop shop where our OKRs live.”
Lattice makes it easy for Clio’s executives, managers, and individual contributors to create and update their own OKRs as well as see OKRs for the rest of the team. “The information the platform provides around OKRs is fantastic, allowing us to develop a deeper practice of doing OKRs within the company,” says Chris. “In the past, we used to do it in a collaboration software tool that was not very good, so doing goals in Lattice was a very welcome and visible change.”
Life with Lattice
The Clio team has successfully integrated with Lattice and Chris is impressed with how quickly the product has improved since his company started using it.
“I really enjoy using Lattice because of how easy the admin tools are to use. Having used Lattice for over a year now, it’s amazing to see how fast the product has been evolving, not just from a feature set perspective but from how the product team thinks about how features are grouped together, how they integrate and tie into performance within an organization.”
“Lattice is moving fast which is really great to see. Whenever I’ve put in a feature request, it feels like either someone from the team says, ‘Yes, that’s a great idea!’, or ‘It’s already on the roadmap!’ which is even better.”
“I appreciate being able to speak with the CEO, Jack, or Ming [Lattice Product Manager] directly where I can ask, ‘Hey, have you thought about doing something like this?’ The discussion might not result in a feature but we still have a great discussion because everyone is passionate about the topic.”
Ultimately, Chris finds that using Lattice fits in with Clio’s philosophy to develop people rather than overwhelm them with rules and bureaucracy. “For us, we feel like if you do more upfront work, that organizational development work like making sure that managers are up to speed on how to actually manage people correctly, and create a great system to work in, then you need a lot less traditional HR work like developing policy."
"You’re able to focus a lot more on empowering those around you to make the right decisions instead of constantly putting new rules in place.”
Since implementation, Lattice has empowered Chris and the entire People Operations team at Clio to build the kind of people management practice that will scale and thrive as the company continues to grow.
"At Clio, we endeavor to build a truly human AND high-performing workplace, where everyone can do the best work of their lives. Lattice is a key part of facilitating this culture by being our one-stop-shop for all things performance development. Clions thrive through real-time appreciation, effortless feedback, and meaningful 1on1's – Lattice enables us to do all of those."