How Calendly built a values-first feedback culture with Lattice
Calendly is a fast-growing technology company on a mission to make scheduling headaches a thing of the past. Their sleek scheduling tool is used by over 2 million users at companies everywhere, including LinkedIn and Zendesk.
Meet the People Team
Head of Recruitment
Kelly Minella is Calendly’s Head of Recruitment. As part of a growing company, Kelly has had to wear many hats beyond recruiting, including being in charge of Calendly’s broader people strategies for employee engagement and performance.
Senior HR Business Partner
Ashley Pryor is Calendly’s Senior HR Business Partner who has previously built HR strategies at a variety of organizations including Barnes & Noble, the NFL, and Betterment. Now, she specializes in designing programs for performance management and is in charge of keeping Calendly’s employees on track with their goals.
“It's not a tool that they feel they have to use. It's a tool they want to use. It's a tool that's part of being a team member at Calendly, and it's part of your experience that actually makes you do a better job at your job.”
Though Calendly is still a small team, their ambitious culture encourages employees to seek out challenges.
Kelly: “It's one of the most special places I've ever worked. I think that's because we put people first. We care so much about our people and we’re doing things that companies tend to wait to do until they're at 500 people.
Given the company’s success over the past few years, Kelly and Ashley faced two challenges at Calendly:
1) Establish a strategy for performance management that aligned all departments under the same practices, and
2) Embed Calendly’s newly established company values into the culture so that employees felt connected to them every day.
First, a lack of full-company alignment on performance management caused teams to feel siloed. As a result, team leaders felt responsible for their own processes.
Kelly: “There was a big disconnect, and it varied between all the departments. There was no system in place, and many leaders relied on Google Docs. Others didn’t track anything at all.”
That lack of alignment caused a lot of uncertainty downstream. Not only did employees feel unclear about their individual goals, they felt distant to the higher-level mission of the company, which created concerns about retention for Kelly and Ashley. They knew the system they put in place had to address this.
Kelly: “There was a gap between what the team member was experiencing versus what their manager was experiencing. The core problem was that the core relationship wasn't nearly as strong as it could have been. We knew putting this system in place would really help that.”
To try and improve the situation, the company spent several months in brainstorms, workshops, and all-hands meetings to come together and rally behind a set of strong and exciting company values. With everyone bought-in to the new values, the company had to find new ways to embed them into the company culture.
Kelly: “Our CEO said, "This is a contract that we're making to our current team members, but also the aspirational ones that we want to attract to Calendly. We're saying that if we work consistently with these values, then not only are you going to be set up for success as an individual, but then Calendly ultimately will be successful as well."’
Together, these two challenges created a unique situation for Kelly and Ashley. Calendly not only needed a tool that could help them put their strategy into practice, but one that managers and employees would be excited to use and make part of their work-life.
Kelly: “This was something employees needed, but they're not HR professionals who have done this before. They relied on things they learned from previous experiences with performance management and then did that for their own team. But that meant there wasn't any type of standard.”
The solution also had to be noticeably better and easier than what the team could solve with a Google Doc and other ad-hoc tactics. After all, they wanted a system that would push their company and employees forward.
Ashley: “There's so much more opportunity for performance management systems to really focus on. It’s not just the ‘here's where you're at,’ but where can you be in the next year, two years, and five years?”
Kelly: “We felt that if you and your manager have a welcoming and open line of communication, regular check-ins, and a feedback cadence, you'd be set up to be a better performer versus ‘it is what it is’ and just assuming things.”
How Lattice Helped
Given that Kelly and Ashley weren’t just looking for a tool for performance management but one that would embody their holistic strategy for Calendly, finding the right solution proved even more important. That’s when they found Lattice.
Kelly: “Our team was so hungry for this because I think that managers have all these good intentions but the actual perception of feedback and how their direct reports are interpreting it can really be different. Lattice cleared this up right away.”
What first impressed the whole Calendly team was Lattice’s thoughtful and enjoyable user experience. Quickly after implementing the software, employees at Calendly found that meeting Kelly and Ashley’s expectations was easy.
Kelly: “The Lattice team really helped us as a team of two people trying to do so much at once. Lattice is an incredibly user-friendly tool, so when we rolled it out to the entire company, I didn't need to do too much handholding for anyone.”
It’s one thing to make completing employee reviews a simple and painless activity; it’s another to transform the process of providing feedback from uncomfortable and difficult — particularly upward feedback from employee to manager — into a productive, meaningful, and satisfying experience. For one thing, this meant that the process of giving feedback and reviews had to be transparent and equal for everyone involved.
Kelly: “We knew that if the team members were aware that their leaders got the feedback first and then got to give theirs, they weren't going to be honest and then what a waste of time. So we wanted to make sure that [it was] definitely bilateral and unbiased. That was huge.
But what really surprised Kelly and Ashley was that they found employees starting to explore Lattice on their own, using features that weren’t part of the initial rollout.
Kelly: “The only thing we actually mandated that each team had to do was quarterly feedback check-ins. Everything else wasn't immediately required. We just wanted to truly focus in on that core thing, which was building the manager and direct report relationship. But then people went in and set up goals for themselves and really got into it. It was amazing.”
Kelly: “We saw really quick adoption of the Kudos channel and giving that feedback within Lattice. Then people starting to pick up the Updates, the 1:1 feature, and Goals. They just weren't things that we said you had to do, but people explored anyway.”
Today at Calendly
Since implementing Lattice, Kelly and her team have felt more successful in several ways. First, Calendly’s culture no longer sits on an unsteady foundation. With Goals, Feedback, and 1:1s in Lattice, managers and employees are completely aligned on what needs to be done and why it matters.
Kelly: “A lot of times it's not an issue of employee productivity. It's about the manager's ability to give direction and to give proper feedback. Lattice really gives managers the opportunity to sit down and reflect, ‘Hey, have I given you the right things to focus on? Have I been clear on those expectations? Have I provided you the training necessary to be successful?’ It holds them accountable to their employees.”
By extension, it’s clear to everyone at Calendly how their work is tied to the values that they so carefully crafted. And when employees succeed in living out those values, they feel empowered by the encouragement they receive through their public praise channel called #kudos with Lattice’s Slack integration.
Kelly: “I'm seeing a lot of benefit in the overall morale boost with the #kudos channel. It's motivating to everyone when they see others getting recognition for their work. They're like, ‘Okay, I want to try harder. I want to get that.’ The positive affirmation is incredibly motivating.”
Overall, Calendly’s seen a significant impact on their people operations processes and employee engagement with the company.
Kelly: “If we were to grade where Calendly was from a people perspective back in August and compare to where we are now, I've definitely seen a huge improvement since adopting Lattice.”
Lattice has become a sought-after part of everyone’s day. Where feedback, goals, and meetings were once anxiety-inducing, employees and managers now look forward to seeing how they're growing and pushing forward.
- Before Lattice, managers across departments felt misaligned on feedback processes, and company values were not championed.
- Lattice’s easy and intuitive UI led to quick adoption of praise and feedback by all employees.
- Dramatic increase in employee participation in feedback sharing, strengthening employee-manager relationships.
- Full company-wide adoption and alignment on Calendly’s values and feedback practices.