How Braze Implemented Lattice Performance Management
Braze (formerly Appboy) is a customer engagement platform that helps companies deliver thoughtful, personalized messages to customers through impactful mobile, email, and digital channels.
Braze, a fast-growing marketing automation company, has offices in New York, San Francisco, London, and Singapore filled with smart, motivated people. It’s an attractive place to work but hiring can be a challenge when competing among other well-funded startups for talented employees.
For Andrew, that hiring challenge transforms into a growth and retention challenge the moment that the candidate joins the team: “Now that we’ve brought them in house, how are we going to keep people motivated, engaged, and excited about their work?”
Employees Want More Development and Feedback
The People team discovered that there was internal demand for more career development and feedback. “We conduct quarterly engagement surveys and we found that our people have consistently voiced a need for career development and continuous feedback.”
The company had annual reviews and ad-hoc 1:1 meetings but Andrew acknowledged, “we didn’t have a process in place where we formalized how managers give employees feedback on a regular basis.”
Braze decided to use Lattice to build out a new continuous performance management process for the company and help automate some of the existing practices that weren’t scaling as the company grew.
Like many startups, Braze managed to grow to almost 200 employees by repurposing existing office applications for performance management.
“Before using Lattice, we conducted performance reviews through email. The employee would email his or her self-assessment to the manager, and the manager would gather peer assessments, and then craft the overall assessment of the individual’s overall performance and deliver that in an in-person meeting.”
It’s the kind of manual process that worked at the time but doesn’t last beyond a one-time use because it's difficult to search for historical information from past review cycles.
Changing the Performance Management Process
Using Lattice, Braze separated its performance review process into two different performance review cycles each year. They have a fall cycle which is more of the traditional retrospective on the year and they’ve added a spring cycle to focus on career development in response to employee demand.
"The spring cycle looks at the employee’s contributions over the past six months but we’re also focused on their areas of opportunity in terms of their career path--what do they need to do, what types of projects do they need to take on, what scope of work do they need to have under their belt to secure that next position.”
As part of this new performance management process, the People team also asked managers to have monthly career development check-in conversations in addition to their weekly 1:1 meetings with their reports.
The company also implemented Lattice’s goals, feedback, and 1:1 meeting features to build a continuous performance management framework around its spring and fall performance review cycles.
Goals, Feedback, and 1:1s
Andrew explained that Braze refreshes goals quarterly, starting off with top-level company OKRs (objectives and key results). “Our CEO works with each department head to translate those company OKRs into department level OKRs. From there, those department heads work with their managers on more specific team OKRs that can go all the way down to the individual level.”
“We’ve enabled the Slack integration and have a Lattice Slack channel where we have a continuous feed of public praise and feedback. People see everyone thanking each other and they’re reminded, ‘Oh, yeah! I should give so-and-so feedback.’”
“People are using the 1:1 feature--they’re adding agenda items, they’re utilizing the 1:1 notes. I personally use it with my manager and I find it super-helpful. I can reference prior 1:1 agendas as needed. There were 1:1s happening prior to Lattice but I think they’re happening more often now and on a regular cadence.”
“The administration and management of the performance assessment cycle was so easy. The interface is easy to use and super-intuitive. Just clicking through the screens to set up a review cycle takes no time at all. I’ve worked with a couple of other tools that weren’t as easy to use when it comes to the interface.”
Andrew worked with Lattice to assemble training materials for managers and employees. “Our [Customer Success Manager] Laura has been amazing. She’s incredibly helpful. A lot of the training content that I put together is based on the content on the Lattice website that she showed us. I took a lot of the screenshots and language and repurposed it.”
Having a system in place also makes it easier for the team to access past performance records and analyze results.
“Now that we have this tool in place, everything lives on that platform. Should someone depart the company or if there’s an org change, those new managers have access to historical data which they didn’t have access to before when past assessments were locked away in personal email folders.”
“From the HR perspective, it’s helpful to have the Lattice dashboards on the admin side to look at our entire organization no matter where they’re located or what level they’re at within the org. We’re able to slice and dice the data to look at information by location, by seniority level or by department. We didn’t have that ability in the past. Having a tool like Lattice that can support our organization as we grow is key.”
- Customizable performance reviews
- Complete OKR platform
- 360 feedback & 1:1 meeting tools
- Helpful support
- Comprehensive reporting