In 2003, JustAnswer was founded as a way to give anyone access to expert advice in under 24 hours. Today, the company gives customers 24/7 access to 700 different types of experts — like doctors, mechanics, vets, accountants, and more — so they can receive the vital answers they need as quickly as possible. While the company’s services have clearly scaled in the last almost two decades, so too has its team. Now, the company has over 700+ employees, three offices (in the U.S., Ukraine, and India), and a Global HR team of 50 to help keep its People processes running smoothly.

As the company outgrew many of its existing People processes, JustAnswer hired Kimberly Nerpouni to become its Vice President of Talent Acquisition and People Ops, giving its HR processes a much-needed refresh. From day one, Kimberly knew the one thing she didn’t need to touch was the company’s amazing culture.

“We have a really good culture and a highly engaged team. Even though we’re remote and diverse, or maybe because of it, we do a lot to stay connected as a team,” explains Kimberly. “We even have a Minister of Fun who plans ways for us to come together like lotteries, poker night, taste test challenges, and more. All these things  make us feel connected and make us feel like we’re friends, even if we’ve never met each other in person.”

While JustAnswer has a remote-friendly workplace today, this wasn’t the case only a few years ago. In fact, the team was using desktop computers until the pandemic required the company to buy laptops so employees could work from home. That previously limited how the company used technology for People purposes considerably. “We’ve always had an in-office, face-to-face culture,” explains Kimberly. “We didn’t use technology to do reviews or one-on-ones. Managers would just sit down and talk to their employees, and then the executive leadership team would rate employees after talking to their managers. When you have 50 people all in one office, that process works just fine and doesn’t need the help of a fancy tool, but it doesn’t scale for 700+ remote and in-office employees.”

Aside from face-time, another key aspect of JustAnswer’s culture is its use of objective and key results (OKRs). Using this goal-setting framework at every level of the organization, the company aimed for employees to know exactly what’s expected of them and how their role relates to the business’ overall success. But, JustAnswer tended to flip-flop between two different OKR tracking systems, which was frustrating for employees who’d have to re-input all of their personal goals into whichever new system the company favored at the moment. While finding a replacement OKR solution wasn’t top of her list, Kimberly knew finding an HR tool that could remove the frustration around tracking employee goals would be an added plus.

The company needed a solution that could help bring structure and standardization to both the performance management process and employee-manager one-on-ones. “My team wants to create a high performing culture, so we need to know where our talent is and where we have gaps,” Kimberly says. “We knew we needed to find a tool that could help us switch to 360-degree reviews and find a way to ensure managers were sharing feedback and having development conversations regularly with their reports.”

Kimberly knew a people success platform was the answer to all her problems and a solution that could scale with the business. Lattice quickly stood out from its contenders since it could support 360-degree reviews, one-on-ones, OKRs, engagement surveys, as well as give the HR team much needed access to their People data. Kimberly shared that the number one feature that sold her team on Lattice was its ability to overlap engagement with performance.

“We were an evolving, maturing company trapped in a startup’s body,” she says. “I wanted something that could be a tool not just for People Ops, but for managers and their teams to share feedback and collaborate. It was also important to choose a solution that was foundationally built off of goal setting. I knew that would resonate with our culture and team.”

Using Lattice at JustAnswer

One of the first tools Kimberly implemented was Lattice’s 1:1s tool, giving her team visibility into the frequency and quality of these important manager-employee conversations for the first time ever.

“Now, we can approach managers and say, ‘Hey, we see that you’re not engaging frequently with your employees.’  If they can say, ‘Oh, well, actually I am; I’m just not using Lattice,’ we’re now able to show them how and why it’s beneficial to use Lattice and how storing these conversations in the platform can support not only the business, but the practice,” shares Kimberly.

So far, manager adoption levels have been relatively high, which Kimberly attributes to how easy the Lattice 1:1s tool is to learn and use. “I know this sounds silly, but Lattice makes one-on-ones more fun,” says Kimberly. “It’s visually appealing. It’s intuitive. It keeps a history of past meetings. You can use it to collaborate and share. You can set due dates. You can add items to the agenda. You can check it off. Who doesn’t like creating a list and seeing that check mark?”

The JustAnswer’s HR team also uses Lattice Engagement to empower its managers. Using the tool, Kimberly and her teammates can share specialized views of survey data, so managers can see specific metrics and how they compare to historical scores pertaining to their team, department, office, and more. “That was a really nice surprise, because it can be really hard and time consuming to create custom data views for managers,” explains Kimberly. “Lattice makes it easy for managers to self-serve, but when we have a manager that isn’t technologically savvy or has never used Lattice, we can just apply the filters for them and share the view. It’s so much quicker.”

While JustAnswer is an OKR-driven company, Kimberly admits she deemphasized Lattice Goals during the software evaluation process to keep her stakeholders laser focused on how the platform could help improve the company’s feedback and review processes. After the executive team gave Kimberly the green light on Lattice, they were surprised and delighted to learn Lattice could also support their OKR setting and tracking. “Our leadership team did a complete 180. They went from saying ‘You can’t just fix a problem with a tool,’ to  ‘I love Lattice. Can we also use it for OKRs?’ When I said yes, that was a huge positive surprise for our executives,’” shares Kimberly. “Every HR leader’s dream is having your stakeholders asking for more.”

Impact of Lattice

Since implementing Lattice, JustAnswer has seen tremendous results, especially around adoption and participation rates. The company’s average engagement survey participation rate is an astounding 93% — an amazing feat for any company, let alone one with a global workforce. “We knocked it out of the park,” exclaims Kimberly. “That’s the highest participation rate of any global engagement survey  I’ve ever done, and I’ve done this for 20 years.”

Kimberly was also pleased to see how highly employees answered the question: Do you understand how your work contributes to the success of the business?. “For a lot of businesses, especially fast-growing organizations, this question tends to be a low-scoring metric. We received in the mid-to-high-90s on that question alone and I have never seen it get that high,” explains Kimberly. “People get up in the morning and get excited to go to work when they have a sense of purpose, meaning, and growth. When they feel like they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. This response is a testament to our great culture.”

And yet, even when weighed against these overwhelming results, Kimberly says the biggest benefit of Lattice has actually been how the platform legitimized employee feedback for the company. “Skeptics say feedback is squishy and not data-driven, but with Lattice, we can show our leadership team that employee feedback is tangible. They can see the data for themselves and understand that it’s legitimate,” she says. This has made it easier for Kimberly and her team to gain executive buy-in and create new initiatives to address survey feedback.

Of course, one of Kimberly’s biggest goals for Lattice was to introduce more structure to the company’s performance management process by implementing 360-degree reviews. The team now boasts an average performance review completion rate of 90% and has built a review process that is more fair and feedback-rich for employees. Furthermore, Kimberly was delighted to find out In a recent meeting with the  Head of Talent Acquisition that since implementing Lattice, their offer acceptance rate has gone up. Frequently asked questions from candidates are centered on career development. Being able to share with candidates that JustAnswer leverages Lattice for real time feedback, structured 1:1s, 360 performance reviews, and OKRs has helped validate to potential new hires that their success and career development is a top priority at JustAnswer.

Kimberly and her team are rolling out Lattice Goals to assist with the company’s existing OKR strategy. While they’ve also seen high 1:1 participation across the organization, the JustAnswer’s team wants adoption to reach 85%. “Implementing Lattice has been considered a huge win for us because we now have the tools to support our managers,” shares Kimberly. “In fact, we just signed, which we never do, a two-year renewal.”

The deciding factor that convinced Kimberly to partner with Lattice long term? “The shared passion around employee strategy and people strategy,” says Kimberly. “The statement that ‘People strategy is a business strategy’ resonated with me and the fact that it’s backed up with authenticity sealed the deal. Everyone at Lattice possesses a genuine energy and passion around enabling employees and helping us all be Smart, Fun and Get Things Done!”

Takeaways

  • Using Lattice, JustAnswer achieved an average review completion rate of 90%
  • Thanks to engagement surveys data from 93% survey participation Lattice has helped the JustAnswer HR team “legitimize employee feedback”
  • Lattice Performance helped JustAnswer introduce 360-degree performance reviews to create a more fair performance management process
  • The JustAnswer HR team now has accurate visibility into OKRs and one-on-ones for the first time ever

The Challenge

The client comes first at Nous Group. But for Tanya Day, Nous Group’s Learning & Performance Manager, building programs to support the firm’s employees ensures the company can achieve that business goal. She notes that at Nous, “we aim to build on the great culture Nous has through excellent people practices. We’re improving our people systems so we have better access to data, accelerate performance, and evolve our performance feedback ecosystem.” Intentionally designed as a flat organization with minimal hierarchy, Nous is widely praised for the autonomy and empowerment its employees enjoy.

“Our people are spirited, collaborative, service-minded, and focused on performance,” says Tanya. “It’s a fast-paced and intense environment, but one where the company’s rewards are shared with employees.”

But like many organizations with a streamlined organizational structure, Nous has faced some human resource challenges. “We’re really good at responding and adapting to business needs,” says Tanya, “but we knew we needed to improve our data insight capabilities and decision-making processes.” The company was grappling with fragmented and outdated feedback systems, with feedback stored in multiple places, largely in simple text documents. Nous tried to rectify this by building a partially automated system to collect employee feedback, but it was still difficult for employees to access, resulting in frustration. Meanwhile, the company was still growing rapidly, more than doubling in size in the four years since Tanya was hired.

Nous Group embarked on a broader strategy to evolve its people systems and ensure that HR processes would scale with the business. “Ultimately,” she notes, “we wanted to be less reliant on a twice-a-year feedback cycle and move to an integrated system that supported real-time and continuous feedback.”

A Solution for a Unique Structure

“We needed a system that didn’t work in a purely hierarchical way,” says Tanya. “We’re not big on hierarchy at Nous and many of the performance systems on the market are built around a traditional management structure.” And she isn’t exaggerating. Nous doesn’t have “managers” in the traditional sense. Instead, the team’s “performance coaches” work with employees to promote employee growth.

As such, Tanya says that in the market for people management tools it was important to find one that met her specific expectations and criteria. “We really wanted flexibility and a product that would evolve along a roadmap and could grow with us,” she says. When she found Lattice, one surprising factor that really stood out to her was the care and attention the Lattice sales team provided in the evaluation process. “[Our Account Executive] really took the time to understand and learn our business so he knew what we were trying to do. It was just a joyful process to work with him.”

And in addition to the features enabled by Lattice, Tanya also considered another source for helpful information: Glassdoor. “I know it’s a bit of an unusual thing to do,” she says, “but the Lattice team is obviously really happy working at Lattice. It’s clear they’re a happy employee group and go above and beyond to serve their clients, so I’m feeling really confident about our selection with Lattice.”

After evaluating many systems, Tanya narrowed the decision to Lattice and a close competitor. To help make the final decision, she organized an internal user group to dive into the products and provide detailed user feedback.

When it came to the decision, Tanya was confident that Lattice was the solution that would help Nous Group succeed. As she puts it, “Lattice’s excellent interface, external product reviews, great company culture, and customer service during the process won us over.”

Phased Implementation of Lattice

Nous Group took a gradual approach to rolling out the features of Lattice, introducing them progressively over a period of 12 months – with more features to come down the line.

The first order of business was to migrate Nous’s biannual feedback process to Lattice which introduced most of the company to the platform. “We released short videos at each step,” says Tanya, dropping the instructional videos on a just-in-time basis so as not to overload team members with a mountain of material all at once. “The strategy worked well because Lattice is so intuitive,” she says, “so people only needed to access video help to become familiar with the process. To build excitement about Lattice, we also used TV screens in the office, intranet banners, blog posts, and direct emails, but the product really did the talking for us.”

In a matter of months, Nous had rolled out an array of Lattice’s features with high employee adoption. “We’re leveraging nearly every part of Lattice now,” says Tanya, “after gradually rolling out new features when both my team and the business were ready.” That includes bi-annual reviews,  automated check-ins for new employees, scheduled to take place after one, three, and five months on the job, and the Praise Wall.

To help make each of these rollouts successful, Tanya knew that she could rely on her Customer Success Manager for best practices, guidance, and thought partnership. “The benefit of having a Customer Success Manager is that they can say, ‘this has worked really well with this client, and how about you try it this way, or these are the sort of things you should watch out for’. And [our CSM] has been so great. He even popped in to visit us when he was in Melbourne recently, and it was amazing to see him in person!”

Tanya also conducted benchmark surveys every six months to measure and gather employee feedback on improvements she and her team were making, including the Lattice rollout. “In mid-2018,” she recalls, “Nousers rated the old technology to support feedback at 3.4/5 stars. By the end of 2019 after we implemented Lattice, this rating had jumped to 4.4/5 – a 22% increase. Over the same period, ratings on the format and quality of feedback also jumped 10% from 3.5/4 to 4/5 stars. Overall, we’ve received many great qualitative comments on the improved quality of feedback.” One Nouser commented, “I found the Lattice survey made me more thoughtful of my responses – because it was the only way to provide feedback, and because feedback would be given word for word to the Nouser, I really thought about what I was writing and how I could add value.”

The most recent feature to go live was Lattice Engagement, and Tanya says the she has been particularly impressed with the survey insights and user interface. “We got an 80 percent response rate,” she says, “which is impressive given that it was the first time we’d used the survey functionality.” The Nous People Team also took advantage of ideas from Lattice’s Crisis Response Survey template to incorporate into the questions. It proved to be immensely valuable to ensure employees were being supported. “Our HR Business Partners and CPO all said, wow, this data is so much better than what we’ve had access to before.” Having an engagement survey product that not only surfaces insights but that employees are happy to use means more time her team can spend developing strategies and taking action.

Achieving a Winning Culture

Looking back at how things have changed since implementing the system, Tanya says the automation tools in Lattice have been one of the biggest game changers for the company. “We were having trouble keeping track of the onboarding check-ins due to our company growth, and some of those check-ins were missed or delayed,” she says. “Not anymore.”

Being able to collect and find employee feedback over time in one place was another area where the impact of Lattice was felt immediately. Nous Group is proud of its strong culture of giving and receiving feedback regularly encouraged by their performance coaches. But before Lattice, Nousers had no way to easily index and search for prior notes and feedback. Now, any team member’s feedback can be unearthed with a few keystrokes. “Our performance coaches love the one-stop-shop nature of Lattice,” says Tanya.

Tanya has even seen an improvement in the feedback content shared between individuals thanks to the ability to customize the anonymity in reviews. “The quality of feedback is better because there’s less groupthink and potential for bias. Everyone’s submitting their feedback individually and then it gets collated, so you can’t be influenced by other people’s perspectives on performance.”

At the same time, Nous embarked on efforts to revamp non-system processes and communication to improve employee perceptions of bias, fairness and transparency. Tanya found that Lattice made a measurable impact. “Lattice’s identifiable and anonymous feedback question features contributed to important gains in perceptions of bias (improved by 24%), fairness (improved by 15%), and transparency (improved by 12%),” she says. With Lattice, Nous prioritizes non-anonymous feedback to increases transparency and encourage employees to give feedback directly. But in delicate cases, the ability to set anonymity and private questions help to surface sensitive feedback and encourage candor, especially upwards to those in more senior roles.

Lattice is proving itself not just to Tanya but to leadership as well. “Our Managing Director says he is delighted with how the product has performed,” says Tanya. “By his own admission, he was very skeptical about moving from face to face to online surveys for feedback. Now, he’s a huge supporter.”

With automated reviews, continuous feedback, Praise Wall, 1:1s, and now engagement surveys, the team has implemented nearly the entire Lattice platform at Nous Group with widespread employee adoption. Now, the People Team can make room for new programs and enhance the kind of culture that is best for Nousers. With Lattice, she says “it’s just made our life so much easier. And it’s nice to be part of something that’s so successful. Most system implementations are fraught and can go poorly. You can make a poor decision and then have to regroup. We haven’t had any of that. It’s really been kind of a dream run.”

Takeaways

  • Lattice stood out as the only solution Nous Group evaluated that was an ideal fit for its unique, flat organizational structure
  • Lattice allowed Nous Group to consolidate employee feedback in a centralized, easily navigable system
  • Nous Group is now able to automate new employee check-ins, ensuring new hires are supported throughout their onboarding process and setting a positive tone for their future growth
  • Lattice’s own company culture and excellent sales and customer support were key elements that convinced Nous Group to select Lattice

“We are a people company,” says Melisa Guerbi, Director of People and Culture for Valtech, but few companies have the intricate people challenges that this global consultancy wrestles with, considering it has more than 50 offices located on five continents. The highly scattered nature of Valtech’s workforce – compounded by its rapid growth rate – has presented many challenges. “There was no singular Valtech experience,” says Melisa, “and as the company got bigger, it has become harder to give feedback.”

Valtech’s immediate challenge was determining how to formalize its feedback processes without losing the personal touch that had driven so much of its success. At the same time, Melisa wanted to find a better way for those in the company to get to know its diverse workforce, aiming to help workers understand the vastly different backgrounds that make up the Valtech team. Existing efforts like its monthly “cultural calendar” had been helpful at creating a community that embraced diversity – and celebrating it. Ensuring that level of engagement continued during a period of rapid growth, not to mention pandemic-driven upheaval, was paramount.

Evaluation

Melisa asked peers for advice on finding a tool that could help with its People challenges, and Lattice was one of the recommendations. The company ultimately demoed seven tools, and “while some had good features and user experience” says Melisa, Lattice was the only one that combined performance management, engagement tools, and a career path development system (the Lattice Grow system) into a single platform.

“Becoming a feedback-driven organization is an ongoing process,” says Melisa. “That means we must have a continuous cycle of data to drive action plans for improvement.” Before Lattice, Valtech’s systems for achieving this were archaic and underdeveloped at best, limited to some basic questionnaires and surveys that didn’t lend themselves to actionability. “I recall a conversation I had with an employee who shared that he didn’t take surveys because there was never any action taken from the results. That stuck in my head for days,” says Melisa. “We needed to prove people wrong.”

Using Lattice at Valtech

When Valtech used Lattice to create its first Regional Happiness Survey this year, the number of employees participating in it set a record for any employee survey generated by the company, ultimately generating nearly 1000 comments. “We created an action plan based on the precise data and themes, which Lattice helped us customize,” says Melisa, which culminated in the launch of a variety of workshops to work through those recommendations. “We’re now using both survey results and employee feedback to create our Valtech Raising Standards People Strategy,” she adds.

“I’m also obsessed with both Pulse and the eNPS feature,” says Melisa. “I literally check the sentiment, eNPS score, and comments every day, so I can get a deeper understanding of employee motivation. Understanding their current mood and where their motivational triggers are is a day-to-day task for the People and Culture team.”

Melisa says that Pulse provides Valtech with the specific data it needs to continuously improve its culture, particularly since she relies on the tool regularly. “Studies have shown that if someone is asked about a particular topic once each week, the habit-forming nature of the activity means they will be more aware of the topic during the other six days of the week, and they will start considering ways to improve on that specific topic between each poll,” she says. Since regular surveying with Pulse began, Melisa says operational improvements have been tangible, especially with managers who are increasingly asking for guidance on how to improve their leadership skills.

Valtech also implemented Lattice’s 1:1 feature during implementation, and while Melisa says she didn’t even expect the feature to be used, within days of launch, 80 recurring 1:1s had already been scheduled. Today, the company has 208 recurring 1:1s on the books, and the number continues to grow.

The Impact of Lattice

“If we didn’t have Lattice during COVID-19,” says Melisa, “we would have missed the opportunity to develop our employees’ careers and really hear what they were going through on a daily basis. Pulse surveys and 1:1 check-ins have helped us navigate this challenging time by keeping employees engaged on their objectives. Meanwhile, we are constantly making changes to improve their work experience based on their feedback.”

Workers are also asked to engage with co-workers, either inside or outside their team, through “coffee chats” at least twice a week. These informal discussions are designed to replicate the water cooler – or coffee machine – chatter that was a natural part of the in-person office experience. Managers are asked to do the same with direct reports, but to keep the conversations on non-work topics exclusively: hobbies, kids, pets, and so on. It’s all part of Valtech’s goal of building camaraderie and keeping morale high, even when employees are primarily interacting over Microsoft Teams and email.

But perhaps the biggest impact of Lattice, says Melisa, is that employees have been so eager to provide feedback on both the corporate culture and its day-to-day operations. “It was proof for us that they loved the company and wanted things to get better,” she says, adding that executive leadership has been voraciously reading employee comments and is in full support of the Valtech P&C team. “We didn’t have to convince them of the improvements needed,” she says. “The comments did.”

Takeaways

  • Lattice gives Valtech a single system that combines performance management, engagement tools, and a system for career-path development.
  • Surveys let Valtech keep tabs on employee sentiment and give the company the tools it needs to make tangible changes to its operations.
  • Strong participation from Valtech employees in  Lattice has generated significant support from management, which in turn powers even better engagement from workers.

The Challenge

Third Bridge believes that the knowledge locked up in individuals’ minds provides the critical information to give its clients an investment advantage. This requires having a global staff with a deep understanding of markets and key drivers to help extract these insights. But for Kae Bandoy, the VP of People Development, that means building the best teams of people is key for Third Bridge to deliver on that promise.

“We believe that our core competency is really about attracting, retaining, and developing people,” says Bandoy. “And we believe that developing people is actually everyone’s responsibility. We really try to empower people from day one to say, ‘We’re here to help each other develop.’”

Like many companies, Third Bridge long had a fairly traditional employee development process. While Bandoy says the corporate culture was built around offering clear and consistent feedback, she felt the culture could be even stronger. And more importantly, she wanted the concept of feedback to be able to scale alongside the breakneck growth of the company, which was recently recognized as one of Britain’s 100 fastest growing companies for the fourth year in a row. “We were providing and requesting feedback, but that information was being held in so many different places,” she says. “It was becoming unsustainable. We really wanted to strengthen our feedback culture, and we needed to scale.”

Complicating matters was the fact that Third Bridge had also recently implemented an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) strategy that is still being rolled out company-wide. Bandoy felt Third Bridge needed a platform that would not just support a more scalable feedback system; her goal was to find a system that would support the OKR framework, too.

Evaluation

Third Bridge already had an HRIS solution in place, but it was too limited for the company’s needs, and it was primarily used to manage an increasingly archaic annual review process. It didn’t support OKRs either, and Bandoy knew it was time to find a system that could connect feedback with employee goals. “We’d never had a performance management system before,” says Bandoy, “and we weren’t super familiar with what they could do. We didn’t know what was possible.”

But at the top of Bandoy’s list was one thing: user experience. Whatever tool the company settled on, it had to be easy for everyone to use to maximize adoption internally and ensure they were creating healthy practices. Not far behind was another deal-breaker item: the tool absolutely had to integrate with Slack, a team communication tool that is particularly crucial for Third Bridge, given that the company employs over 900 people across three continents. The company had created a strong culture of consistent cross-border collaboration, and Slack had become the cornerstone.

Ultimately, it was Lattice’s integrated functionality for Slack that made it the hands-down favorite, allowing employees at Third Bridge to unlock Lattice’s features without disrupting their workflow. “We were never going to work with anyone who didn’t integrate with Slack,” says Bandoy. 

Using Lattice at Third Bridge

When Third Bridge started their company-wide, international rollout of Lattice in January 2019, the team quickly started seeing value. “It was pretty seamless,” says Bandoy. “We didn’t turn on every single feature initially, and to be honest, we’re still not there. That’s in part because of our size, and in part because we’ve never used a tool like this before. “

Lattice presented a much different way of providing feedback than the company’s old system, and as with any major change of process, that meant advocacy and encouragement were key. Bandoy notes that, in the early days of implementation, her team created an internal video series with senior executives sharing personal stories about valuable feedback they received in their careers to emphasize how important feedback is to a successful company culture.

Interestingly, different features of Lattice have been adopted more quickly within the company in different regions. “In Asia, they use Praise much more than any other office,” says Bandoy, noting that the team there has created a thriving culture by celebrating wins. Teams that are globally based – such as Bandoy’s own group – tend to heavily use the 1:1 feature, which is designed to allow managers to check in with direct reports. Where it was once difficult for distant teams to keep up to date, the 1:1s tool has enabled a new way for consistent collaboration. “One of the key features for us has been the ability to have a 1:1 with someone who isn’t your manager,” she adds. “That was a game changer, particularly for the people operations team, because they’re always working with managers in other departments.” 

Early feedback was incredibly positive, Bandoy says, and while encouraging people to “embed Lattice in their day to day” is a long-term endeavor, she says it’s largely caught on organically thanks to Lattice’s seamless UX. Meanwhile, the product team at Lattice worked directly with Third Bridge to gather feedback and enhance the platform even further, particularly the Slack integration.

“I found the team really, really easy to work with. For example, when we adopted Lattice, the Slack integration was being improved, and Lattice collected our feedback directly. As a customer, it was great. It made us feel like they were building the feature just for us.”

The Impact of Lattice

At the end of the year, when employees expecting a traditional year-end review, they are in for an exciting change. “This year we’re not doing annual reviews,” she says. “It may be controversial, but I want to do a big campaign around how important it is to set your objectives at the beginning of the year and how to be more forward looking instead of looking back.” She adds that Lattice now gives employees a more immediate understanding of their performance, saying, “Employees used to say, ‘I have to wait for a manager to give me feedback,’ or ‘I don’t know how I did in that meeting.’ Now they can actually go and look for that feedback themselves.”

Third Bridge still plans to do smaller reviews on a quarterly or semiannual basis, she adds, but notes that these may primarily take the form of people updating their OKRs rather than being graded by their managers on their performance. Over time, the goal is to provide continuous feedback rather than a periodic review. Bandoy cites Lattice’s superb user experience (and that critical Slack integration) as the main driver for making that possible.

And for Bandoy personally, perhaps the greatest impact of Lattice is that because everyone at Third Bridge is empowered to give feedback in the moment, she can now directly monitor and learn from the feedback that managers are giving to their team.

“What we’ve done is decentralized the feedback collection process, so managers can collect it whenever they want, employees can give it whenever they want rather than, ‘Oh, let’s wait until the end of year process to give this feedback to that person.’ It’s a shift in performance management culture.”

Bandoy’s next big goal is to tackle separating career development from performance. “I’m looking for ways that I can use Lattice to give employees a non-threatening way to bring up advancement with their manager,” she says. “This idea that employees can take ownership of their development even if their manager is busy – it’s powerful.”

Takeaways

  • Lattice’s Goals and Feedback tools helped Third Bridge move from annual reviews to continuous performance management driven by OKRs
  • The 1:1s tool in Lattice helps managers and employees around the world stay focused and up-to-date across 
  • Lattice’s UX is easy for everyone to learn and different teams across the globe can adopt features at their own pace
  • Lattice’s Slack integration means never having to interrupt work to provide feedback
  • The Lattice product team acts on customer feedback to build and improve features quickly

T.A. Cook is Berlin-based consultancy specializing in asset performance management. With its global team of expert consultants, engineers, and development coaches, the company helps its clients develop and implement programs to increase and sustain their profitability. 

But, T.A. Cook’s Director of HR Maren Stieler promises the company isn’t your typical buttoned-up consultant firm. “When most people think about consultancies they imagine a bunch of guys in suits coming into their business thinking they know better than everyone else, but we’re completely different,” shares Maren. “Our corporate culture is based on strong values, like humanity, honesty, and authenticity. A saying we like to use a lot is, ‘Stay unique.’ We respect people the way they are and don’t believe they have to change to fit in,” she says.

For Maren, who has a background in upscale hospitality, putting people first is everything. “We believe if we empower and enable our employees, they will be happy and serve our clients better. In turn, that makes our clients happy and helps them reach their goals quicker,” says Maren. “That cycle is the power of a client-oriented consultancy.” 

Over the last five years, T.A. Cook team has ruthlessly prioritized the employee experience and invested in building the tools, structure, and support their employees need to grow and reach their professional goals. When Maren first joined the company, its HR team was using an Excel spreadsheet to create and store consultant career tracks and managers rarely met or shared feedback with their direct reports. In Germany, no feedback is typically good feedback, but Maren felt her employees were missing out on the valuable advice that could help them grow in their careers. She wanted to build a new feedback culture at T.A. Cook and create a workplace where managers more regularly share feedback and praise with their teams.

“We decided we wanted and needed more than one annual engagement survey so we could be closer to our employees throughout the year,” explains Maren. “So, we started looking for a new engagement platform that could do it all.”

Using Lattice at T.A. Cook

Maren had big plans for digitizing the company’s people practices and fostering a culture of continuous feedback and she knew Lattice was the one engagement platform that could do it all. “I tried to avoid having 10 different platforms to manage our employees and there is no other platform that combines engagement, growth, and feedback like Lattice does. That was a final driver for our decision to make the switch,” explains Maren.

Specifically, Lattice’s Grow or Performance products were what initially caught Maren’s eye. Thanks to Grow, the T.A. Cook team could say goodbye to their Excel-bound career paths and easily scale their professional development plans, while Performance allowed the company to easily scale from annual to bi-annual performance reviews and allow managers to more easily give and receive constructive feedback to their teams. 

While Maren initially didn’t expect her workforce to adopt Lattice’s 1-on-1s tool, she was pleasantly surprised to see many managers had found and picked it up on their own. “We have some departments who do monthly or even weekly 1-on-1s using Lattice. Managers can easily check the tool to review to-do lists, share goal progress updates, and have meaningful growth conversations with their direct reports,” says Maren.

But, the main reason the T.A. Cook team went shopping for a new engagement tool was that their previous vendors hadn’t been able to give them meaningful insights into the employee experience. Maren wanted the ability to go beyond an annual engagement survey and introduce more frequent pulse surveys to properly measure changes in sentiment and stay in touch with her employees’ needs. “We had always had high engagement scores within the top 5% of service industries and we were winning all these rewards, but we knew what was more important was really knowing what our employees want and what kind of concerns they have,” explains Maren. 

The company’s switch to Lattice couldn’t have come at a better time. Having Lattice during the pandemic gave the T.A. Cook HR team unprecedented insights into how their employees were feeling and what they needed from their employer during such challenging times. “Our Lattice survey data helped us realize our employees were under a lot of stress. Using that information, we were able to partner with an institute that offers professional coaching and counseling sessions, so our employees could make a free appointment and talk about how COVID was affecting them—whether it be overcoming the loss of a family member or friend, feelings of isolation, dealing with homeschooling, etc.,” explains Maren. “Thanks to Lattice, we were able to get our employees professional support when they needed it most.”

Impact of Lattice

On top of more frequent engagement surveys, the T.A. Cook team was also able to develop additional employee career paths, build an ongoing feedback model, and increase internal development awareness using Lattice.  

First things first, with Lattice Grow, Maren and her team were able to develop additional career paths for non-consultant employees—a long term goal for the small HR department. “What excites me the most is seeing the growth matrixes and tracks in Lattice,” explains Maren. “While we originally only had career paths for our consulting business line, we’ve been able to add additional ones for our engineers and shared services. Now, we have around 12-15 individual tracks divided by functional skills and knowledge in Lattice.” Maren hopes the new career paths will not only help the organization retain top talent, but also help their employees better understand their career options within the company.

In Maren’s opinion, the biggest achievement Lattice has brought her team has been improving internal awareness for the career development opportunities offered at T.A. Cook. “While that familiarity with career progression opportunities already existed amongst our consultants, we wanted that level of awareness for all of our employees and now we have it,” says Maren. “Thanks to Lattice, we’ve reached that level and I’ve been able to prove the importance of the HR department’s work.”

Career paths aren’t the only way the T.A. Cook team has leveraged Lattice to invest in employee development. Maren has trained her managers to use Lattice’s Feedback tool to share valuable and actionable feedback with their teams. “Lattice’s feedback function has been very rewarding for us. In Germany, not receiving feedback means you’re doing your job right, but now with Lattice, our employees feel like their managers really care and it’s helping improve our manager-employee relationships,” shares Maren.

This improved feedback culture wasn’t just reserved for employees, it’s also taken root in T.A. Cook’s executive team. “Using Lattice also made our leadership team become more transparent,” she says. “Since each of our employees can tie their personal goals to our operational targets and organizational goals, our leaders are more forthcoming about how the business is performing and how we’re progressing towards our growth plans.” The company’s also seen an increase in employees sharing that they feel more connected to overall business performance thanks to these changes.

Since Maren and her team have already proved the value Lattice brings to their organization, she’s actually planning to hire two new employees this year to help her team leverage the platform even more. “We have a new recruiter and people development manager starting in a month, which will help us put more resources into being able to use Lattice better,” she says. “It’s a logical next step since being able to use the platform to its full potential is very important for us.”

Takeaways

  • The company switched from annual engagement surveys to an ongoing engagement model, allowing the company to measure and act on employee sentiment throughout the year
  • Using Lattice, the company was able to determine how the pandemic was affecting their employees and quickly implement free professional coaching and counseling sessions
  • With Grow, the T.A. Cook team was able to ditch Excel and build out career paths for all three of its business units, investing in both internal talent mobility and employee retention
  • Lattice’s Performance tool helped the business foster an ongoing feedback culture and improve employee-manager relationships