The Challenge

In each engagement survey, GoGuardian asks its employees to describe their experience in three words. Last quarter, employees said the corporate culture was exciting, rewarding, fun, meaningful, fulfilling, supportive, engaging, innovative, and inspiring. While maintaining a positive corporate culture is important for the HR team, the company is also in a hypergrowth phase, growing from 200 to 700 employees over the last few years, and is focused on engaging and retaining talent. “People are our greatest resource and developing them is key to a business’ success,” said Lisuzzo. “In most businesses, 50% of your cost is employee salaries, and so developing people is critical to ensuring the business is a long-term success. But for me, it’s less about cost and more about wanting to make sure that our staff feels supported and that they want to stay with us for the long term.”

For Joe and his team, developing employees involves a variety of initiatives. These include helping managers inspire and lead, helping employees grow in line with their long-term career aspirations, providing equitable opportunities for advancement, and fostering a culture of openness, transparency, and regular feedback. And this can all be achieved with effective performance management.

As an early-stage startup, GoGuardian was doing performance management on an ad hoc basis, but as the company grew, this wasn’t a scalable or consistent way to engage employees and support their growth and development in the long term. Employees also increasingly said they wanted regular feedback, so the HR team needed to implement a company-wide performance management system that would align review cycles as well as standardize questions and processes across teams.

Using Lattice Grow at GoGuardian

Education is one of the cornerstones of GoGuardian’s mission, and the company applies that internally as well, as they’ve learned and iterated in using Lattice. By incorporating feedback and taking into consideration when that feedback is needed for business initiatives, GoGuardian determined the best cadence for engaging employees.

Using Lattice, they run annual engagement surveys and two performance review cycles each year, and then send pulse surveys every two weeks to understand how employees are feeling in real time. The company also does annual goal-setting to determine company objectives, and then managers do ongoing goal-setting with their teams to ensure alignment. Lattice also allows performance reviews to be standardized and shared between managers and employees in a more transparent way because at any point, either can go onto the tool and see past feedback.

For GoGuardian, Lattice Grow provides an intuitive interface and a single platform with many tools and features. Lattice also solves the problem of having to connect ad hoc processes that were all done slightly differently by different teams. “Lattice automates many aspects of performance management that previously might have been managed by many disparate systems,” said Joe.

As employee development is a priority, the HR team has worked on the continued expansion of Lattice job tracks. Prior to Lattice, GoGuardian had a job architecture which lacked uniformity, so competencies and expectations varied from team to team. Managers were also doing performance reviews via different tools, such as Google Docs and Asana. With Lattice, GoGuardian was able to create career roadmaps that allow employees and managers to clearly understand what success looks like for each role, and what skills and competencies are needed to succeed. GoGuardian currently has 65 job tracks and is developing more.

GoGuardian has very high employee participation in both engagement surveys and performance reviews because of the ways they’ve used Lattice. Before they roll out any survey or review process, the HR team develops a communication plan to detail who and where they will communicate what needs to be done. And because employee feedback is so integral to organizational culture, the HR team makes sure to actually listen to it. The HR team makes a point to follow up and take action on engagement survey results so employees feel heard, which encourages future participation.

The company is in the process of getting Grow further implemented across teams, and by the end of the year will be asking managers to have a development plan in place for every employee.

Impact of Lattice Grow at GoGuardian

As a result of using Lattice engagement surveys, GoGuardian listened to employee feedback and implemented many benefits, including increased 401(K) matching, extending a generous parental leave, and introducing professional development tools and programs online such as LinkedIn Learning and Thrivepass. The company has also instituted quarterly wellness days where the entire company closes down and everyone can take the time to recharge.

In addition, career development has been better communicated. With well-articulated job tracks, employees can clearly see the expectations and requirements for different roles across the company. This is beneficial for both managers and employees. “[Lattice Grow] helps managers have very transparent conversations with their staff members about development, which is also  beneficial from the employee perspective as well,” said Lisuzzo. “If you’re worried that you have capped out in your growth and are interested in moving to a different role or department, you can very easily see what the expectations are and focus your development to eventually make that move. A fascinating byproduct of having all of your job tracks articulated is that it’s helping with retention in a multitude of ways.”

By using the tools within Lattice, GoGuardian has been able to collect feedback from a distributed workforce, at scale. “I think what [Lattice] has allowed us to do is take the pulse of the organization at large, and surface that information up to our executives and decision-makers in real time. This has been hugely beneficial, especially in the remote environment,” said Lisuzzo. “I can’t imagine how else we would do it without Lattice, because it’d be hard to shoulder tap 700 people and ask their opinion on something, especially now that we have employees across the country and internationally. One of the greatest benefits of Lattice is the ability to funnel this information upward and do so in an aggregated way, where the answers are anonymized so employees can provide their true feelings and feel safe doing it.”

Because the product is intuitive and provides a uniform, cohesive performance management experience to the entire organization, GoGuardian has found that getting new employees onto the platform has been very easy. And while Lattice adoption is fairly widespread at GoGuardian, the HR team is constantly looking at ways to leverage the tools to better support their employees through improved performance reviews, development plans, and testing different features.

Takeaways

  • GoGuardian views employee success as business success, and thus has built a feedback culture where employee development is a key component of performance management.
  • As the company has grown in size, Lattice helped GoGuardian find a performance management platform that allowed them to achieve consistency and transparency across teams.
  • Lattice Grow has enabled GoGuardian to refine their job tracks and provide clear expectations around roles and development paths, allowing employees to identify opportunities of growth within the company and ultimately leading to retention. The company currently has 65 job tracks and is developing more.
  • Lattice engagement surveys have enabled GoGuardian to hear and take action on employee feedback to provide impactful benefits and results to employees.

Preparing for Rapid Expansion

Guild’s mission is to unlock opportunity for America’s workforce through education and upskilling. While it helps corporations like Walmart, Walt Disney, Chipotle, and Discover develop their teams, it wanted to leave no doubt that it was doing the same for its people. Those expectations weren’t lost on Micah Leinbach, Guild’s Manager of Learning & Organizational Development.

“Our whole mission and reason for being is to help other companies think about how they’re managing their talent. When we don’t deliver on that mission internally, people notice,” Leinbach said. From prior experience, he knew that performance and development initiatives usually missed the mark when they didn’t feel like part of employees’ routine. The old-school approach of sitting everyone down for a once-a-year review or mandatory training doesn’t get anyone excited about career advancement.

“One of the things we spent a lot of time thinking about was how we could help people integrate learning into their regular ‘goings on’ at work. How do you build in that reflection time?” he said. In the company’s early days, it was easier for personal relationships to help drive career conversations. But after Guild’s headcount grew 1,400% and revenue 9,969% in just three years, the company needed structure and tools to accommodate performance and career growth at scale. Leinbach and Mo McGinnis, a Guild People Business Partner, knew that Cornerstone — their performance management tool at the time — couldn’t match the vision.

“I’ve found that roughly every 150 employees, you kind of need to revise your systems…and by then, we were just ready for something that worked,” Leinbach said. In his own words, the company’s approach to performance and development was overdue for a “lifesaver.”

Scaling Performance Management with Lattice

For McGinnis, that much-needed support came just in time. “We’re growing so much that we’re a different company every three to six months. We needed something scalable and, above all, easy to use — especially on the user end,” McGinnis said. The company’s performance reviews were just weeks away, and she knew their existing solution couldn’t keep up.

“Whatever the new system was, I had to be able to learn it quickly because I was still the only person in People Ops,” she said.

Lattice’s intuitive approach to performance management caught her eye. After a speedy implementation, Guild kicked off its reviews. Rather than dig through months of emails, reviewers could easily reference past goals and peer recognition all within the review experience. Easily recollecting this information was critical for the fast-growing company, whose managers quickly went from having one or two direct reports to entire teams.

It was a breath of fresh air for McGinnis, who had seen her share of technological breakdowns, missing evaluations, and other review-season headaches in the past. “We loved it. Lattice totally changed my mind about performance management software,” she said.

A few months later, Guild was approached with the opportunity to test drive an early build of Lattice Grow. Leinbach, who was already impressed by the platform’s approach to reviews and one-on-ones, jumped at the chance.

“I was a hundred percent there because we’re trying to build an environment where people have the freedom and resources to drive their own learning experience through intuitive tools. And it turns out that Lattice is really good at that,” Leinbach said. The tool empowered teams at Guild to share levels and competencies within their organization, helping deliver on his personal goal of making development more accessible to everyone.

“The functionality of having a central place to store competencies is so critical,” he said. According to Leinbach, doing so within the same tool you use for one-on-ones and performance reviews makes having career conversations a more natural part of the employee experience. It empowers direct reports to more easily see what their career next steps look like and to set growth goals. The pathway to a promotion isn’t just clearer, it’s spelled out in an easy-to-read competency matrix employees can reference at any time.

Bringing performance management and development together this way wasn’t just convenient, it was an epiphany — even to a Learning & Organizational Development veteran.

“Even before Grow, I considered Lattice an L&D tool because of how intuitive it made performance…But this is going to be a big, big game-changer in our ability to understand what people need to grow,” Leinbach said. 

Lattice’s Impact at Guild Education

Hypergrowth has a knack for disrupting HR’s best-laid plans. Culture can shift with every new hire class — forcing People teams to reevaluate performance management processes and the way promotions and career conversations are handled. Lattice’s software gives Guild the structure they need for the long haul, no matter how high their headcount soars.

“When I came to Guild, someone told me that structure sets you free. Back then, I found that a  little annoying, but they were totally right. Like totally, totally, right. And the best way to do that is to create shared systems, Lattice being one of them,” Leinbach said. If the platform wasn’t intuitive, it wouldn’t have been able to embed itself into the company’s culture the way it did.

After all, the hardest part of performance management and development shouldn’t be technology. Yet throughout McGinnis and Leinbach’s careers, navigating legacy software providers had always been a barrier to entry for teams looking to get serious about performance and growth. Leinbach was effusive over Lattice’s intuitive interface — not because it makes his job easier, but because it makes it feel more meaningful.

“I approach L&D from a perspective that if you have to run a training, you’ve already failed,” Leinbach said. Neither he nor McGinnis became People leaders to record software tutorials. “For the first time, I can focus less on telling people where to click and instead focus on how to actually have that big conversation.”

Takeaways

  • Calling Guild a “hypergrowth” company might be an understatement. Lattice empowered them to keep employee performance and development in focus.
  • Lattice’s integrated approach to performance and development made it easy to write reviews and set growth goals with context.
  • Guild managers feel more empowered to coach, and employees know what skills or competencies they need to develop for their next promotion.
  • Lattice’s ease-of-use meant spending less time explaining technology and more time having meaningful conversations about performance and growth.