Leveraging Performance Reviews To Drive Employee Growth With Li-Cycle
As an energy company to watch, Li-Cycle's mission is to recycle the lithium-ion batteries that everyday people throw away.
Tara brings over 20 years of diverse human resources management experience working with start-ups and established organizations, providing leadership and guidance to managers and executives. She has managed multiple areas of human resources including policy development, performance management, compliance reporting, employee relations, termination management and organizational restructuring. Tara is a true strategic partner to both the leaders and the team members that she supports.
In addition to a lengthy career in Human Resources, Tara has also previously worked in provincial politics supporting a Minister of Health & Long-Term Care and Minister of Energy and Infrastructure.
Lauren is the Chief People Officer for Li-Cycle, a start-up with a vision to change the world through lithium battery recycling that is sustainable and efficient, and driving a “closed loop supply chain” for the battery manufacturers. She brings over 25 years of human resources management experience working, working across a variety of industries, often global companies, and with various corporate ownership models. She has worked in all areas of HR as well. She is a true HR business partner – driving competitive advantage with her business insight, her experience and her common-sense approach to HR. She has built a reputation of offering insight and asking “the” questions that need to be asked that spark creative thinking and problem solving.
With Lattice, it's a natural, honest dialogue between a manager and subordinate. Those are the questions that Lattice's system supports naturally with ease and grace, rather than a clunky interface with the fixed format of 'what are your goals?'"
When Tara Smalley joined Li-Cycle's HR team in 2019, she was impressed by the company's commitment to creating a coherent culture and rigorous HR practices despite its then-small size of 10 employees. Li-Cycle is a fast-growing firm that retrieves key materials from lithium-ion batteries and recycles them back into the market. She realized that establishing some performance management guidelines would help balance and focus the company's explosive growth.
When the company's handful of eligible employees sat down for their end-of-year reviews which were conducted manually through Excel spreadsheets, the process was slow and cumbersome. It quickly became apparent to Li-Cycle that an automated, fully-integrated system would improve the company's performance management process and help it scale as its workforce multiplied.
"As an HR person, I was thinking, 'we need this to be tracking as we double, triple, and quadruple our workforce. We don't want to be using this manual Excel document for performance reviews,'" Tara recalls. "So then one of our big goals was to find a performance management platform that could help us improve that."
Initially, Li-Cycle was looking for a feedback platform to facilitate their performance reviews. As Tara and others searched for the right platform for the company, they were immediately impressed by Lattice's comprehensive suite of tools. Lattice's robust performance management system provided everything that Li-Cycle was looking for, but Tara was equally awed by Lattice's 1:1 feature, as well as the employee growth and development tools in Grow.
"One of the things that stood out to me about Lattice is that it's not just a feedback system," Tara says. "It's a full performance management suite. I thought, as we grow, there's no point in me just purchasing a one-off product over here and then a performance management product over there. We thought that the perfect world would be one system for all."
More than anything, Tara was impressed by Lattice's level of service throughout all aspects of the process, from responsive back-and-forth communication to the easy-to-grasp product demos. "The service definitely went a long way for me," she says. "All of the conversations that I had throughout the exploratory process made me feel like, okay, this is great. It's a winning system, but I also feel like I would like to partner with the individuals I'm talking to."
Li-Cycle installed Lattice before its staff doubled from 20 to 40, meaning the company could use Lattice's performance management tools to conduct its mid-year and end-of-year reviews far more easily than before. During a year-end review, many of the junior managers were new hires who had never participated in a performance review cycle before. Several members of the company's executive team were participating in calibration sessions for the first time. Despite having so many new to the experience, all of the Li-Cycle employees felt that the performance review cycle with Lattice itself went well, and they described the software as easy-to-use and effective.
"They had never done anything like that before; they had never really had a system," Tara says. "But they loved it. Everything was so easy....From a system standpoint, there was no pushback. There was no concern that came forward from the system itself. It was just really good feedback overall."
As Li-Cycle's Chief People Officer, Lauren Choate attests, one of the company's main goals is to maintain its non-hierarchical structure and team-oriented culture as it continues to grow. Lattice's feedback tools allow Li-Cycle to aggressively pursue this goal through productive 1:1s and establishing a system for what success looks like through performance metrics. Moving forward, Li-Cycle plans to implement and harness more of Lattice's features on a company-wide level, especially the praise function to provide positive public feedback.
"What I really like about Lattice is that it's not the traditional form of performance," Lauren says.
"It's not the boring 'set your goals at the beginning of the year.' In my experience, that bugs both managers and employees, and makes us into this 'HR Police,' forcing people to do something they don't want to do. With Lattice, it's a natural, honest dialogue between a manager and subordinate. Those are the questions that [Lattice's] system supports naturally with ease and grace, rather than a clunky interface with the fixed format of 'what are your goals?'"
Though Li-Cycle was initially looking for a feedback system, the company's employees have found that Lattice helps them with much more than just feedback and performance reviews. Tara says that Lattice's 1:1 tool has helped her remember to set an effective agenda for meetings, where she would formerly stick post-it notes on her desk to remember action items. "I didn't realize how much I was going to love it, but it makes a huge difference for me," she says.
Thanks to Lattice's intuitive, easy-to-use software, Li-Cycle achieved a goal that its HR staff are particularly proud of. At a recent mid-year review, 100% of the company's staff reviews were completed on-time with minimal reminders or prodding from Li-Cycle's people team. Tara and Lauren consider this a major win for the company, with Lauren noting that she's never seen that level of responsiveness from a company before.
"Streamlining the performance management process has been very helpful for us. That means that there's buy-in from the employee level and the management level, but I think a lot of that also has to do with the system itself," Tara says. "It's simple and easy to use."