How Thrive Digital Uses Lattice to Keep Careers on Track
A conversation with:
Lattice really cared about the success of Thrive in itself. To have this partnership with a team that really wants to elevate our People strategy and support our managers and their direct reports in being able to achieve career success, that's so magical.
VP, People & Culture
Balbina Knight was employee number 13 at Thrive Digital, which means she’s had the chance to personally witness just about every step of the company’s growth. “When I started at Thrive, there wasn’t even a People department,” she says. “I was hired to work on the marketing team as at that time I was in the marketing professional chapter of my career.” That really meant there was nothing in the way of people ops: No performance reviews, no feedback system, no career guidance, and no real management of the workforce at all outside of a Google Sheets page used to keep track of basic HR information and additionally facilitate light-weight career growth conversations.
In time, the company took the unusual step of developing its People software from scratch, building a proprietary solution for managing employee feedback — which it promptly outgrew. “We had a very sobering moment where we really reached our limitations and realizations around product development,” says Balbina. And the company recognized those limitations were impacting its People operations. Thrive realized it was time to raise the stakes and pursue an alternative that was purpose-built for managing the success of its talented people.
“We did a lot of flirting with Lattice before we finally decided to go on our first date and really see where this could go,” says Balbina. Around 2018, Thrive Digital began exploring Lattice in earnest, and the company quickly saw that the Lattice platform was a great fit for the company. “When we started looking into Lattice we said, ‘How did you get in our brain and take everything from our proprietary software and build it out in Lattice?’” she adds. “It was beautiful.”
Lattice Grow was what ultimately convinced Thrive Digital that it had found the right match. “The day that Grow was activated, I said, ‘When can I sign?’” says Balbina. “I couldn’t sign fast enough.” She notes that the tool was so intuitive and clearly valuable that she knew Thrive managers would need no special onboarding to understand it. “Grow is such an essential tool in helping give that extra depth and texture to skills and experience development for our employees. I can't live without it. We can't live without it.”
Clearly, Grow has had a massive impact at Thrive. Even before using Lattice, the company placed a strong emphasis on skills development, alignment between managers and direct reports, and building transparent career journeys. “We have always wanted to be able to showcase to employees what they need to work on to continue to unlock further career growth – and what that kind of growth looks like,” says Balbina. “People have really loved Grow’s ability to do this. It’s really helped show them that they're making progression in their role. Being able to highlight that within Grow has been truly meaningful.”
Today, every department and every division within each department at Thrive Digital has a career track published via Lattice Grow – 17 of them in total. “We have really comprehensive tracks for our more mature departments and then additionally we have tracks that we are building for newer roles,” says Balbina, “We’ve really been able to fill in the details of what success looks like through these different levels within Grow.”
Balbina notes especially that Lattice’s included templates helped get the process started with people who are new to the system — and she notes that open-source content is available for professionals who want to get their hands a bit dirtier. “People can take what they need and mold it into what works best for their organization,” she says.
Conversely, Balbina notes that having access to this much content can feel daunting, where professionals may feel initially lost. But, she adds, “I don't think that’s a problem because there's just such a terrific support system from the Lattice team if help is needed. Everyone truly feels like they want to support everyone.”
The response to Lattice has been extremely positive at Thrive Digital. “When we launched Grow,” says Balbina, “our people said, ‘This is awesome. We love it.’ It's so comprehensive and so well organized. The way that it's structured within Lattice makes it very easy to access.”
Next up: “figure out how to leverage the opportunity that we have with Grow and connect it to the rest of Lattice’s career growth tools,” says Balbina. “For example, I discovered I can create a growth area off of one track and then use that area as a follow-up during conversations with my manager. Understanding all these really impactful features and functionalities and how they work together is a huge opportunity for us, front and center.”
In addition to Grow, Thrive management relies on the 1:1 feature heavily – in fact, Balbina says it’s one of its most vital tools in its People program. “We’ve really focused on the narrative that 1:1s are intended to be a magic space between a manager and direct report, not just a place for status updates. We use them to encourage managers to talk about a person's career growth, removing roadblocks and making progression. Is there anything they can do to get them more motivated and engaged? We’re able to capture each person’s sentiment for the week while seeing how they’re progressing in their growth areas as well as seeing any recent feedback.”
To Balbina, one of the most best parts of the relationship she’s built with Lattice is how Thrive’s feedback has been incorporated directly into Lattice product development. “It’s really cool that Lattice actively listens to their customers to better their product for them, not just for the marketplace or for themselves,” she says. “It's such a simple concept, but I think a lot of vendors miss it completely.”