How Managers at Insight Data Science Use Lattice
Insight runs a free 7-week Fellowship program for scientists, engineers, and product managers transitioning into data careers. The program receives over 10,000 applicants a year and Insight Fellows are now thriving at over 300 cutting-edge companies across the US and Canada.
Tracy joined Insight Data Science as the 14th employee when the company was just three years old. Even in those early years, Tracy explains that the company made an effort to practice performance management.
“We were as organized as we could be for a company that did everything in Google Docs. I’ve been doing 1:1s with my manager for years. We do goal-setting, we have a culture of feedback, and we did performance management before having a software platform for it.”
“It was just a lot messier. You could send that performance review email out to the managers but there was no way to track if things were actually getting done. You couldn’t see who had or hadn’t done their peer reviews.”
It was also a challenge to keep track of everyone when the company runs education programs in five different metropolitan areas and also offers a remote program.
Tracy could see that the team needed to implement a software-based system and the company made selecting and implementing a performance management system a priority. “I wanted to get performance management in place and make it part of who we are and what we do. It makes it much easier later when your company grows to 100 or 200 people.”
“My process was to do deep dives with four companies and then pick one to present to the executive team. I liked Lattice because of its affordability and simplicity. I also liked that the Lattice product team was accessible.”
Tracy had a product review with the executive team and got the approval “easily.”
“It would be hard to argue against having something like Lattice--it makes all of our lives easier and everyone more organized.”
Lattice’s customer success team helped kick off the implementation process with a live online training with the company’s managers and worked closely with Tracy during the critical onboarding period. “When we signed up for Lattice we only had 30-something people. I don’t think we were a big account for Lattice but we still received a lot of attention.”
Tracy decided to launch Lattice for annual reviews but gave the team some time before jumping directly into a review cycle. “We introduced Lattice months prior but we didn’t kick off a performance review cycle until Team Week, when we had the entire company together in one location.”
During Team Week, the company blocked two hours fully dedicated to give people time to complete their performance reviews. “I told the team, ‘Don’t do anything else, go find a quiet place and fill out your reviews.’ I’d say that 70% of the evaluations were completed during those two hours.”
Getting the team to finish the remaining 30% was easy because Tracy could use Lattice to monitor everyone’s progress: “I could go in and see who had finished, where people were in the process, and remind people.”
“I got the best response when I talked to managers and asked them to bring up finishing performance reviews with their reports in their next 1:1. I’ve found that it’s the most effective way to encourage people to complete their reviews.”
Helping Managers Lead
Tracy says that “people are grateful to have everything, the goal-setting, feedback, and 1:1 notes in one place.” Managers can also make the tool fit into their personal management styles.
“A lot of how Lattice is used is determined by the individual managers, how much they use Lattice, and how active they are about having their direct reports use Lattice.”
The company has what she calls “Lattice power users,” people in the organization who utilize all of the features in Lattice without any prompting.
One of Tracy’s power users is Katie Amrine, the Head of Data Science for the remote program. Katie is based in San Jose, California but has direct reports in Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago.
For Katie, having a cloud-based tool helps her stay close with her team even though they’re distributed across the country. She uses goals, status updates, and 1:1 meeting notes to stay up to date and keep everyone aligned.
The mission for the company is to train academics in data science and help them land positions in industry, and Katie shares that her team uses goals to keep that mission top-of-mind: “We set our placement goals, which is our big metric, in Lattice. It’s visible and gives us the opportunity to provide positive reinforcement each time we place a fellow.”
Katie also asks her reports to put a half hour on their calendar to finish their status updates and goal updates right before they meet for their 1:1s. She explains to her team that Lattice is where all of their information lives for their annual performance review and that it helps them as much as it helps her.
“It’s a great place to show that they’ve brought up issues when they’ve needed to and also take personal credit for things that they’ve done that I may have missed. It’s useful when I’m making the case to my higher ups for merit increases and career development opportunities.“