Future is a fitness company that pairs users with world-class coaches via its app, with a focus on flexible service and personalized workout plans. As a fast-growing company, Future knows that its employee standards are evolving as the company continues to reach new milestones. To benchmark this progress, Future established quarterly performance reviews to track employee growth, but business operations lead Kevin Teng soon realized that the process needed serious improvements.

“We were using a fully manual process that required us to copy over questions to individualized documents that we would share with individual employees,” Kevin says. “Personalizing each document was a slow and time-consuming process, and then we had to send them out and make sure that the privacy settings were right for each one.”

Using Lattice at Future

Armed with this knowledge, and facing a hard end-of-quarter deadline, Future began to look for software to improve their processes. It didn’t take them long to find Lattice. Both Kevin and senior manager Elisha Voren were immediately impressed with Lattice’s scalable performance reviews, especially its robust analytics and support for automated templates. A vital process that had once taken a matter of hours could now be achieved four or five times faster thanks to Lattice. Kevin particularly cites the ability to easily see the results of previous performance reviews as an important part of Lattice.

“At that point, we were growing at a very fast clip, and it became apparent that what worked for 30 employees was no longer going to work for 200 employees,” Kevin says. “We wanted to be able to leverage the information we’re building over time. If a coach has a series of high-grade performance reviews, how do we continue to build on top of that? Lattice not only stores that information, but it allows us to develop those standards over time, which is exactly what we were looking for.”

In addition to its quarterly performance reviews, Future leverages Lattice’s 1:1 function to great effect. Biweekly one-on-one meetings have been a key part of Future’s culture for years, but Kevin says that Lattice’s 1:1 and Updates features allow its managers to communicate more effectively with employees. 

Impact of Lattice

By giving all staff members a dedicated space to discuss their wins and concerns, it’s allowed Future to identify strengths and growth areas and act on them much more consistently. Lattice’s feedback functions allow Future to promote its culture by jotting down triumphs or potential problems that would’ve otherwise slipped a manager’s mind. And since each manager at Future oversees more than 10 people, that’s a significant benefit.

“We did an initial push for it, but it’s become organic,” Elisha says. “We’re coaches, so it’s only natural for us to give each other high-fives and props when we do a good job. But the private notes function is really useful for the managers. One lead recently told me, ‘If a person is late to a meeting, I can make a private note for myself using that feature.’ It’s allowing managers to do their job better through those historical references.”

Though Lattice helped Future solve its central issue with performance reviews, the company’s employees and managers have discovered many unexpected benefits from the software. For example, Elisha says that she personally values how Lattice facilitates workplace transparency, since everyone can see their performance review at any time. 

Similarly, Kevin says he has been impressed with Lattice’s Upward Review because it allows him to deliver feedback to managers in a more effective way. This feature gives employees a safe, neutral space to communicate important points to higher-ups at Future, and it has helped facilitate vital feedback for the company.

“Previously, I would deliver my review to an employee verbally, telling him his accomplishments, his growth areas, things like that,” Elisha says. “But now they can have their manager’s review and their own at hand anytime they want.”

Due to the nature of Future’s business, performance reviews involve a long calibration process that ultimately determines whether or not a coach is promoted to a new position. This is a vital aspect of Future’s operations, and Lattice helps streamline those processes, which makes those difficult conversations that much easier.

The process of adopting the software has been a smooth one, and Future’s staff has now fully bought into Lattice. The company reported that they achieved a 99% completion rate on a recent round of performance reviews, which is quite an accomplishment considering the company’s hundreds of employees. An accomplishment that wouldn’t be possible without Lattice, Elisha says.

Takeaways

  • Future chose Lattice to help overhaul its performance review process, which helped it continue to grow at an effective rate without sacrificing expectations.
  • Lattice’s 1:1s help Future’s busy managers keep track of their employee’s goals and growth areas, while also facilitating productive conversations.
  • Lattice’s approachable and customizable performance reviews help Future reward coaches for their wins and foster a culture of excellence, while also creating a transparent record that can be referenced at any time.

HR Is Not a Side Job

ParkHub was launched with speed clearly in mind. Speed to market. Speed to develop new products. ParkHub’s Never in Park; Always in Drive mantra meant that the company moved at the speed of Now. Accordingly, ownership of ParkHub’s human resources function changed hands several times over the years. Initially, the Chief Operating Officer managed human resources alongside operations, logistics and finance functions. In late-2018, ParkHub’s new Chief Financial Officer joined and drove a budget-oriented approach to people management, which resulted in one of ParkHub’s most efficient years on record. Hiring plans and budgets were established and followed. It worked, and the company scaled. ParkHub’s human resources function had been built to support its growth targets, but as the sun set on 2019, ParkHub needed to build an HR function that focused on supporting its employees. In late 2019, ParkHub handed the reins of its human resources function to its General Counsel and Chief of Staff, Nick Schanbaum.

“Being someone’s advocate gets my blood pumping,” Schanbaum says. Overseeing the people management function provided Schanbaum a new set of challenges, which he relished. “Your problems are my problems. What can I do to help solve them?” When Schanbaum took ownership of ParkHub’s Human Resources, he started collecting feedback on what the employees needed and wanted. ParkHub had identified employee engagement as a priority in 2020, focusing on increasing efficiency, visibility, and alignment across the functions.

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company’s culture to change overnight. “We were moonwalking our way into the summer,” says Schanbaum. “Then, over the course of a few days, we went from ‘ParkHub supports you working remotely’ to ‘You are required to work remotely, do not come in tomorrow.’ And that meant we needed to ramp up our communication with our employees immediately.”

Before the coronavirus arrived, Schanbaum had been focusing on revamping performance reviews and setting and managing goals. Internally, ParkHub calls goals “Rocks”. “We live and die by our Rocks,” says Schanbaum. It was crucial that ParkHub had a system to manage them effectively. He and his colleague, Suzanne Champagne, who was also appointed to take over the department, quickly saw a need to upgrade HR processes, particularly in the face of COVID-19 and the resulting upheaval it caused. As the team began exploring options, they found themselves faced with a surprisingly broad spectrum of human-focused activities that needed overhauling. “Some processes were quite outdated, and nearly all of them were manual – i.e., evaluations written in longhand that had to be scanned into a computer,” recalls Champagne. The road forward was clear, and Schanbaum knew it was time to pivot the function from a side job into a modern, full-fledged people management operation.

Finding the Right Tool

“I’m surprised by the number of people who don’t prioritize human capital,” says Abby Wilson, Head of Talent at Arrowroot Capital, ParkHub’s lead investor. “A lot of times it gets de-prioritized because it sounds like too much effort. But this is the opportunity to have a really open dialogue with your team on a daily basis, one where you are prioritizing their growth, development, and opportunities.”

Too often, Wilson noticed that company leaders, particularly startup founders, don’t put the kind of energy into people strategy that it deserves because it can be difficult to track and measure if you don’t have the dedicated tools and resources. But what impressed Wilson about ParkHub is that they took such a strong initiative with human capital, and she was encouraged by Schanbaum’s efforts from the start.

While looking for a modern people management system, Schanbaum characterized the company’s technology evaluation process as fairly succinct, which is actually quite common. The search for people management software turned up a variety of options, some too big and some too limited given their needs. What ParkHub wanted was a turnkey solution to consolidate people operations into a single tool, not a software package with a mountain of components and extra features ParkHub couldn’t use or didn’t want.

“Lattice provided only the resources we needed,” says Schanbaum, a list which included goal tracking, 1:1s, performance reviews, and employee engagement surveys. “It was easy to use and had a great interface.” Schanbaum describes Lattice as a “Goldilocks” situation – just right for the rapidly growing SaaS company’s needs.

So easy to use, in fact, that many ParkHub employees had already started utilizing many of Lattice’s features before Schanbaum officially unveiled them to the company by taking advantage of the library of video tutorials in Lattice University. “By the time I was introducing the leadership team to the fact that they would be doing 1:1s in Lattice going forward, our developers had already figured out how to do it on their own and were using the tool for their 1:1s,” notes Schanbaum.

When Crisis Strikes, Engage Your Employees

ParkHub was in the process of implementing Lattice when the stay-at-home orders hit, and the company then had to decide whether to put implementation on hold or push forward. It chose the latter.  ParkHub finalized Lattice’s deployment within two days of its decision to mandate working from home across the organization. The company sent team members home before Dallas County officially locked down, thanks in part to a mature technology infrastructure, thus making the transition to remote work both straightforward and clear. Fundamentally, Schanbaum says the decision to close ParkHub’s offices early came from a sense of duty, driven by ParkHub’s strong company values. “We knew we were responsible for these people,” he says. “We needed to make sure that they’re OK.”

Of course, business priorities changed quickly. “We were busy trying to keep up with customer and employee concerns,” says Schanbaum. “We had to turn this ship around and become a customer retention machine immediately.” Part of that strategy (called “ParkHugs”) was to proactively reach out to customers and tell them that ParkHub was here for them whenever and however it was needed. “Being proactive was key,” says Schanbaum. “We wanted to reach out to them before they had to reach out to us.”

It was inevitable that the stress would reach employees too. As Lattice was coming online, the company’s first step was to leverage the Lattice Crisis Response Survey template to take the pulse of its workforce. “It was a matter of days between having Lattice implemented and sending out the first survey,” says Schanbaum. “And we had an overwhelmingly high response rate. All but three employees responded.”

What would have otherwise taken weeks, the survey was built ready-to-launch. “It was so easy,” says Champagne. “We looked at the questions that were already written and said, ‘We want to keep every single one of these.’”

Naturally, the survey was greeted with some initial nervousness among employees. ParkHub made it clear that the survey was entirely anonymous and  that the team needed honest opinions from the staff in order to provide the best support. “Anytime we’ve made changes, people are concerned with why we made them,” says Schanbaum. “The logic behind the survey is that we need to know if we’re doing the right thing – and we need to know right now. We can’t waste a month with employees being unhappy and suffering in silence,” he says. “If there’s something we can do, you have to tell us.”

Ultimately, the survey responses provided the foundation for initiatives that, by all accounts, have been extremely well-received by its employees. Schanbaum and Champagne needed to take action for ParkHub, but they needed to take the right action. For leaders at any company, it’s this kind of data and action that saves time, resources, and morale. During a crisis, it’s even more important. “If you don’t have a way to survey your organization as a whole right now,” says Wilson, “you need to figure out a way to do it.”

Finding Equilibrium with Engagement Insights

With stay-at-home as the status quo for the foreseeable future, ParkHub is using the results of their Crisis Response Survey to address some unexpected findings.

One significant discovery in the survey data: Employees were working themselves ragged. Question #2 on the survey asked if employees felt encouraged to take time for themselves during the workday. The surprisingly negative result raised a flag for ParkHub’s management, and they understood they needed to set the example themselves. “None of the leadership was taking time off,” says Schanbaum. “We had a realization that we weren’t practicing what we were preaching, and so we couldn’t expect other people to do it.” Inspired by the survey analytics in Lattice, company management had made visible efforts in leading the work/life balance discussion.

Now, ParkHub’s Chief Revenue Officer often attends some early morning meetings while hiking in the hills; its President and Chief Product Officer highlight their boxing and powerlifting regimens to the team. Schanbaum has been known to attend some of the company’s virtual engagement events while grilling or splashing in an inflatable pool with his daughter. “The message quickly took. Once we made it clear how seriously we took self-care – and kept reinforcing it – our team started to make time for themselves. Planned bike rides and video game sessions started showing up on calendars.”

Wilson applauds their efforts, saying, “ParkHub did two things really well. They were transparent with their communication with their employees, and they were timely with their communication. They used Lattice to really listen and get feedback from their employees. I feel like they’re very connected to their people.” Wilson notes that employee engagement is also good business practice: Highly engaged employees boost the company’s bottom line not only by helping to recruit other great talent, but by staying at the company especially when times are tough. “You can’t afford to not think about this,” she says, when she hears founders considering the benefits of understanding engagement. “When employees are engaged, you retain them longer and they’re more productive. That’s what Lattice solves.”

Bolstered by a strong first outing, ParkHub plans to revisit the survey soon. “I want to run this survey all the time,” says Schanbaum. “Like every month or two. I want to show our team that we are asking for feedback, and then go and do the things that they say they want us to do. You can’t do the right thing unless you ask the right questions. You need a process that is part of a system.”

Looking ahead, Schanbaum says he also wants to use Lattice to broaden HR’s capabilities, using the system for quicker pulse surveys, polls to gauge awareness of various corporate policies, and, of course, better management of those “Rocks.” Schanbaum notes that a common comment from employees was a desire for clear visibility into how their Rocks fit into department- and company-level Rocks. Now, that is happening with Lattice. “I want to know if employees understand where we’re headed as a company,” he says. “I want to know if our high performers are happy or unhappy, because if they’re unhappy, we’ve got to fix that. As with everything, it all comes back to bringing value to our stakeholders, but at the end of the day, strong margins can’t stand up to a weak culture.”

Takeaways

  • The Lattice Crisis Response Survey helps leadership learn how to best support their organization during times of unexpected change
  • Running engagement surveys regularly (and acting upon them) shows workers that their feedback is heard and valued
  • Highly engaged employees stay at the company longer, dramatically reducing hiring costs which can be critical in a crisis
  • Lattice offers a best-in-class collection of features without superfluous extras

Challenge

People Coordinator Lauren Yee recalls one of the first duties entrusted to her when she started at Rainforest QA. At the time Rainforest had just ended its contract with its previous vendor, a goal-focused performance management platform, and was in search of a new performance management tool.

“The team didn’t have the best experience with [our last platform]. There were integrations that didn’t work. There were some anonymity settings that didn’t actually work. The team spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to use the tool. It was heavy. There was a lot in it and the team wanted something easier.”

It was up to Lauren to find the company’s new performance management platform. “Heather, the VP of People, said ‘Hey, your job is to demo tools and pick the best one for us. We’re going to launch our review cycle in December.’”

Simplicity and ease-of-use were essential for the Rainforest team because they didn’t want to get weighed down by another complicated tool. The team also wanted to give managers and employees the best user experience because they knew that they needed high engagement to make performance management work. At the same time, they wanted the information recorded on the software — such as check-ins and real-time feedback — to be measurable and useful.

Lauren had used Reflektive at her last company but she selected Lattice for Rainforest. “I did demos with Reflektive and Lattice because those were our top choices. We ultimately we went with Lattice because it was simple and easy to use for admins and users.”

Implementation & Support

The Lattice support team helped Lauren learn how to use the tool and provided guidance on implementation and adoption.

“Grant, [Rainforest’s customer success manager at Lattice], was really helpful. I had an idea of what I wanted to do on my end and I would pass my outline to him. He would review it and provide suggestions. It was straightforward and easy. Everything went smoothly.”

Lattice offered in-office training sessions for managers and employees. Lauren shares: “I hosted a manager training that Grant led, and I also had a company-wide training where we introduced Lattice. Our executive team also used Lattice before we rolled it out to the company.”

Lauren’s year-end review cycle was a success with a 99.8% completion rate. Out of 532 total self-evaluation employee review, peer reviews, manager reviews, and upward evaluations, the Rainforest team had 531 completed. The only incomplete review was for an employee that left the company during the review cycle.

Rainforest’s Performance Review Process

Rainforest’s year-end annual review time ran from mid-December to late January. Lauren designed it as a 4-week cycle but added two weeks to account for people being out of the office for the winter holidays.

Email Announcement

After importing employees and selecting the Lattice feature settings, Lauren’s next steps were focused on informing the company with clear expectations and keeping them on track to finish reviews. She sent out a company-wide email announcing that the company would be using Lattice for a performance review cycle in December.

The email included dates and times for manager and employee training sessions and due dates for each major step in the review process: self reviews, peer reviews, upward feedback for managers, manager reviews, and performance conversations.

Pre-launch: Employee Training

Lauren ran a 30-minute manager training and 30-minute employee training session a week and a half before the review cycle started to introduce the company to Lattice and answer questions about the upcoming performance review process.

She held the manager session right before lunch and the employee session during lunch which gave employees plenty of time to ask questions about the process.

Lattice Invitations & Peer Reviewer Selection

Lauren issued Lattice account invites to all employees the following week and emailed instructions to employees to nominate peer reviewers:  

Hi Team,

Each of you should have received an invite to join Lattice and an invite to nominate your peer reviewers for the upcoming reviews starting on Monday, 12/18. Please nominate your peer reviewers as soon as possible.

Your peer reviewers should be people that work closely with you and can also be on another team (recommended) if you do a lot of cross team collaboration. If you don’t select your peer reviewers by Friday, 12/15, your managers will select your peer reviewers for you. Managers have the ability to edit your final reviewer selections as well.

Reminders:

  • If you haven’t received your Lattice invite, please let me know ASAP.
  • If you’ve been at Rainforest for less than 3 months, you will not need to complete any reviews. If you aren’t going to do a review, please still sign up for an account.
  • We will launch employee peer reviews, self-reviews, and upward manager reviews on Monday, 12/18 with a deadline of Wednesday, 1/10.
  • If you need any help, you can use the Lattice chat function when logged in.

Peer Reviews, Self-evaluations, Upward Feedback

Rainforest dedicated the first part of the review cycle to completing peer reviews, self-evaluations, and upward manager reviews. Finishing these reviews first gives managers a more complete picture of the employee before writing the manager review.  

Expect your team to have general questions on how to answer the performance review question prompts. Lauren emailed tips on writing reviews to help employees through the process:

Completing Your Reviews:

  • Get to the point – Keep it simple by using bullet points to answer the question in a clear and concise way.
  • Be specific – Look into specific projects, metrics, or outcomes. Your contributions are valuable and this review should focus on this.
  • No surprises – A review isn’t a time to drop a big bombshell on someone about something you’ve been thinking about. You wouldn’t want that in return!

Tips for Writer’s Block:

  • You only need 3-5 bullet points or a short blurb for each question.
  • Check out your previous conversation archives and go through old 1:1 meeting notes.
  • Look at Jira, Salesforce, or other places where your contributions are stored
  • Journal what you are grateful for in terms of professional growth in 2017 and add this to your review.

Lauren also put together an FAQ to answer common questions as well as a quick guide on how to answer performance review questions and shared it with the team. She advises human resources admins to include a FAQ: “Get all of the questions that you think people will ask and prepare the answers in advance with things like specific due dates and visibility settings. I recommend having the FAQ ready when you launch the review cycle.”

Here are some sample questions from Rainforest’s FAQ:

How do I complete a review?

Log into Lattice. The dashboard will have a list of tasks to complete. Select the “Perform review” button to get started. After you click the button, this will bring you to a page that includes a list of the reviews that you need to complete. You can click through the list of people you need to review and get started on reviews. Lattice will automatically save anything that you write. Once you are ready to submit a review, scroll down and click the “Submit review” button.

What will I see after the cycle ends?

You will see your manager’s review for yourself.

Will my peers see my feedback?

No, only your manager will see your feedback.

Will my manager see my peer feedback?

Yes, your manager will have access to your completed peer reviews as they are submitted.

Will my manager see my upward feedback that I wrote for them?

No, your manager will not have access to your upward feedback. Your manager’s manager will have access to the upward feedback.

When can I expect a raise or promotion?

This time will be used to share, communicate, and grow. This isn’t the time for promotions or role changes to be decided. If this is on your mind or it’s something you’ve been discussing, it’s great to connect on your progress toward that goal. This isn’t the place to make the final call and there will be more opportunities to discuss this after the review cycle ends.

Lauren also sent reminders to the team as each deadline approached. “I gave everyone a heads-up a week before, three days before, and then a day before.”

The company-wide email reminders worked for most employees but Lauren had to do more personalized follow-up for the final stragglers. “I would send individual emails, and after that, as the final escalation, I would ping the person until they completed it.” She used the reporting tools in Lattice to monitor the review cycle progress and see the status of all of the participants.  

Manager Reviews

Lauren set aside the next two weeks for managers to write reviews for their direct reports. Managers are busy people, so Lauren used a variety of tactics to get them moving.

“As we were approaching the deadline, I knew that there would be people that would not complete their reviews in time so I wanted to get on top of that.” Your managers and executive team will likely be the slowest to complete their reviews. Be ready to nudge them forward.

“I would send an email to the all-managers email alias and say, ‘Hey, there are still a couple of you that haven’t completed your reviews.’ I wouldn’t name anyone or call them out, but I would then bcc the managers and say, ‘Hey, the three of you are the only ones that are left,’ and that helped move them along.”

The Challenge

What does it actually take to earn your next promotion? Further, how can your manager help you get there? For Nicole Hopkins, Director of People Operations at Webflow, answering questions like those had always been one of the hardest parts about being in HR.

“‘How do I know when someone’s ready?’ That was the number one question I used to get from managers,” Hopkins said. Unfortunately, it was difficult to offer up advice from firsthand experience. “At all the companies that I’ve worked for, and the promotions I’ve received, I never knew they were coming — nor did anyone work with me on how to get there.”

Hopkins isn’t alone. Data shows that nearly half of employees say they’ve left a job due to a lack of clarity around development. But without a structured approach to job levels, competencies, and growth planning, managers can’t be expected to lead effective career conversations. With that in mind, Hopkins and the rest of Webflow’s People team wanted to cultivate a workplace where employees never felt professionally frustrated or stuck.

“In my experience, the top reason people leave is for career growth opportunities. But what’s the sentiment behind that? Is it because they didn’t know what was ahead of them — or because they got offered the opportunity of a lifetime?” Hopkins said. If you’re going to lose top talent, it better be for the latter reason.

Career Clarity with Lattice Grow

Though Webflow was already starting to think more holistically about development, it needed a tool to translate that into practice. Lattice Grow provides a system to house competencies and career ladders. To be fully effective, she needs both defined career ladders and updated job descriptions.

“If a job description tells you what you need to deliver…Competencies are telling you how to get there, how you behave, and what level of expertise you need,” Hopkins said. Working with leadership, she sets out to identify what competencies are needed at each level within each job family.

“When you’re thinking about building your competencies, my advice is to start at the top and get alignment around what your leadership team’s philosophy is. Not only which competencies they believe in, but which ones they actually model and reinforce. Otherwise, you might just find yourself in the trap of having value statements,” Hopkins said. Though her team arrived at competencies that were uniquely Webflow’s, Lattice Grow also includes built-in templates that companies can start with.

Since Webflow formalized its competencies and job levels, employees have more clarity on how to advance their careers. They’re equipped to set growth plans in partnership with their managers and regularly update their progress. And because this happens in the same tool the Webflow uses for its one-on-ones, employees don’t have to wait for a dedicated development “check-in” to bring up the topic.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s made everyone feel more confident about the who, what, and why of promotions. For startups wary of over-complicating employee development, Hopkins suggests diving in and never looking back.

“In smaller organizations and startups, it’s easy to lean on being scrappy and not having a process. But if you want to be objective, you need some process and standardize what success looks like,” Hopkins said. “Having a clear understanding of who gets increases for performance, who gets promoted, and why, is so invaluable.

Empowering Managers in Lattice

Even for experienced managers, leading development conversations can be awkward and uncomfortable — leading some to avoid them or ask HR for help. But now, Hopkins is creating the foundation to make these conversations not just easy but welcomed as a result.

“Even when I’ve worked in progressive organizations that value career development, we never had a tool that made it easy to facilitate development plans in line with career track. Lattice Grow is the missing piece to holistic talent management,” Hopkins said.

People teams accomplish more when they empower managers to problem-solve, lead development conversations, and engage their teams. For Hopkins, one of the revelatory benefits of Grow is how it gives even less experienced managers the confidence to act as career coaches. Implementing competencies, growth plans, and job leveling matrices and bringing them into weekly one-on-ones took the mystique out of career growth. While HR will always be there to facilitate or answer their questions, it doesn’t necessarily have to “own” development.

“When I think about talent management, it’s about equipping managers and individuals to understand what is expected of them…And we’re there to help them color in the lines,” Hopkins said.

Takeaways

  • Partnering with leadership, Webflow’s People team was able to establish competencies that made career growth crystal clear.
  • Growth conversations are hard. Lattice gives even new managers the confidence they need to coach their direct reports.
  • Integrating career development into regular 1:1s makes everyone more comfortable talking about “what’s next.”
  • Promotions shouldn’t feel arbitrary. Lattice Grow makes development fairer and more transparent.

The Challenge

People-first cultures already know that career development matters. But translating that truism into action is where companies often struggle. Without guidance from HR, development conversations can lack focus or fall on the back burner. That was a problem that Walter Gilbert, Sr. Manager, HR Business Partner at Reddit, faced throughout his career, especially at fast-growing companies.

“Prior to Grow, there was no real North Star for managers and leaders to point to, with respect to career pathways,” Gilbert said. Without clearly defined job levels, competencies, and competency matrices, neither managers nor their reports can talk confidently about growth. Not only does that ambiguity force HR teams to take a more involved role in employee development, it also opens the door for unintentional bias.

“Not having ladders allows for more subjectivity when it comes to evaluation. Without them, it prevents a really objective structure. One manager might have a really high bar when it comes to performance evaluation where another’s might be lower,” Gilbert said. When employees used to ask what they needed to do to earn their next promotion, Reddit’s managers didn’t always have the answers. Though the company was already using Lattice to streamline performance reviews, it needed a way to make “next steps” feel more tangible.

Using Lattice Grow at Reddit

Reddit, a longtime Lattice client, was one of Grow’s early adopters. During implementation, the company took a fresh look at how its career paths were structured. How many job levels should a company of Reddit’s size have? What should the milestones be for each level? For Gilbert, implementing Grow was the perfect opportunity for his team to reflect on the “big picture” questions in talent management.

“When it comes to designing ladders, frameworks, matrices, it’s always a really interesting question — how do you structure it in a way that is most meaningful and applicable for employees and leaders? The best advice I would give is that it’s really imperative to get the leveling structure right,” Gilbert said.

For example, having too many job levels, like 10 or 12, dilutes the value of being promoted. On the flip side, having too few might mean employees have to wait years for their next promotion. “My best advice is to zero in on what the right balance is. We use a six, seven-level system. Businesses should be really mindful about the employee experience with respect to progression,” he said.

Gilbert has already found answers to some other big questions. Using Grow’s customizable competency matrices, he’s been able to help the engineering, product, and design (EPD) teams bring greater clarity to career pathing. Don’t give him all the credit, though — he’ll humbly pass it on to EPD leadership, who were able to easily hop into Grow and iterate on the competency matrices themselves.

“Lattice gave us the canvas for leaders to use. But they’re really the brush and the paint for designing a ladder that makes sense for their org,” Gilbert said. Partnering with leaders, he helped identify specific milestones or specialties that represented what the “next step” in someone’s career would look like. In engineering, for example, machine learning, iOS, and Android quality assurance skills were identified as employee growth areas. “If the leaders are more involved in those discussions, then they’re going to be more in tune and able to articulate what the expectations are since they were the ones who helped draft them.” 

Impact of Lattice Grow

Just a few months in, Gilbert’s team is already thrilled with the results they’ve seen. Managers feel empowered to coach and reports have a clear sense of what the “next step” actually entails. Having witnessed the evolution of Lattice’s performance and engagement tools firsthand, Reddit knows the best is yet to come. “It’s been going really, really well. And we’re excited to continue to partner with Lattice for new features as it continues to expand,” Gilbert said.

Reflecting on the state of the world, Gilbert thinks Grow’s value will become even more apparent with time. Keeping employee development top of mind was a challenge even before COVID-19 forced companies to go remote or adopt a hybrid work model. Absent regular face-time or watercooler chitchat, it can fall off the radar completely.

“The world of work is changing…[Lattice Grow] could shift how we approach career development in general.”

“The world of work is changing and adapting so significantly,” Gilbert said. “That’s where I think Grow will be extremely valuable, in aiding career development conversations when you’re not able to just roll your chair over to your manager’s desk and have those in-person touchpoints.” By using Grow in conjunction with Lattice’s one-on-one tool, employees and managers can regularly check-in on development no matter where they are. 

“Using Grow, our employees can visualize what their growth plan looks like without having to wait for those-real time conversations,” Gilbert said. “Managers can track progress directly via Lattice, so those career development conversations don’t slip through the cracks or get brushed to the side…This could shift how we approach career development in general.”

Takeaways

  • Without structure, career progression can feel ambiguous. Grow gives Reddit’s managers and employees a “North Star” to look to.
  • Partnering with leadership, Reddit’s HR team was able to give the EPD team greater clarity into career growth using job levels and competency matrices.
  • Managers feel empowered to coach and employees know what skills or competencies they need to develop for their next promotion.
  • In the new world of work, face-time between direct reports and managers isn’t a given. Grow helps keep development top of mind for all employees, not just those onsite.

As a fully remote company, enterprise video engagement platform provider Qumu embraces the “work from wherever, whenever” work style, but collaborating across so many time zones and locations presents as many challenges as opportunities. Qumu has continually looked for ways to ensure every department remains aligned even when teams and employees aren’t always in the same location. Strategy Staff Executive Zach Wright knew that OKRs were the best solution to this problem.

A Qumu executive, at a previous company, had used excel spreadsheets to manage OKRs but was steadfast on leveraging a SaaS application to help with long-term scalability for Qumu. After researching various vendors for the right solution, the executive team was surprised to find Lattice was already being used within their HR organization and decided to leverage the platform for goals. By establishing Lattice as the “final truth” for OKRs, Qumu employees can easily view the goals shared by their team, direct reports, and even executives on a modern interface.

Thanks to his background in organizational psychology, Zach knew how OKRs could bring much-needed alignment, especially to a remote-only company like Qumu. He cites Hackman and Oldham’s Job Characteristics Model, an applied theory that identifies characteristics like skill variety, task identity, and task significance as qualities a job must have to keep workers happy and fulfilled. OKRs help Qumu achieve those qualities for its workers, particularly task significance. 

“OKRs allow us to create a structure that gives everyone in the organization a purpose that aligns all the way to the CEO, down to the company itself,” Zach says. “In short, OKRs help us focus on what we need to, say no to things we don’t need to focus on, and provide alignment across the organization to generate purpose and meaning.”

The fact that employees can look at their OKRs and see how their individual tasks contribute to the company’s long-term goals is a significant motivator. Zach considers this one of his favorite aspects of the Lattice platform. When employees review their OKRs, they feel connected to the company at a fundamental level, which Zach appreciates. OKRs at Qumu are visible to anyone regardless of their status at the company, and this initiative helps reinforce Qumu’s cultural values, including a commitment to transparency.

“As an individual contributor, or even a manager, you can look at the OKRs you’re completing and see it roll up into the overall company goal,” Zach says. “That purpose and meaning is a huge contributor to employee engagement and life satisfaction. It’s not just a to-do list; it’s creating that purpose for them.”

Using Lattice at Qumu

Qumu developed their approach to OKRs to take full advantage of Lattice’s platform to meet their needs as a growing company. In addition to biweekly status reports that keep track of everyone’s OKRs, Qumu has rolled out inter-quarterly scoring, which means that employees update their OKRs every month to determine if they’re on or off track.

At the end of every quarter, Qumu staff hold an all-hands meeting where they discuss the defined company-level OKRs for a specific quarter, as well as a slideshow that summarizes the previous quarter’s OKR outcomes as shown through Lattice. Following this, Qumu conducts a complete refresh of OKRs to keep them current and aligned to its goals.

Through these processes, Zach says that Qumu uses OKRs like a child uses bumpers at the bowling alley. When the ball is headed towards the gutter, the OKR allows employees to see that a task is off-track and adjust accordingly to avoid a negative outcome. By checking their  OKRs every month, a project that may have been headed towards the gutter can curve back towards the pins. 

“I like that metaphor because it’s exactly what OKRs do for a company,” Zach says. “They’re the gutter guards in that analogy. If something is too far to the right, we don’t let it go over the rail. We course-correct back and try to finish what we started.”

Impact of Lattice 

Lattice’s impact on Qumu extends beyond OKRs themselves, particularly in the way employees have adopted Lattice’s Feedback and 1:1 features. Per the Hackman and Oldham Job Characteristics Model, consistent and honest feedback helps employees get a clear picture of their performance and how they can improve. By utilizing the Lattice 1:1 tool, Qumu employees can structure their meetings with their managers to get that actionable feedback and make sure they don’t miss anything important, improving efficiency. And Lattice Praise allows co-workers to see and celebrate their peers’ successes, making for a more inclusive, satisfying work experience. 

Also, manager-employee communications are flourishing with the adoption of Lattice Updates.  During hectic weeks, Zach often relies on Updates to communicate his plan of action to his manager and any roadblocks he may face. At the end of every Update is the question, “How are you feeling this week?” And while it may seem simple at first glance, that little nudge gives employees an easy way to let their manager know how they’re doing. This feature can help communicate setbacks and hardships, as well as celebrate successes. 

These features help Qumu maintain alignment on essential projects, even when co-workers involved are all across the globe. Zach views Lattice as the company’s virtual office, which for him, is a centralized base of operations that allows employees to focus on the tasks that matter most. He views 1:1’s as visiting his manager’s office virtually, viewing other department’s OKRs as akin to talking to them casually in a physical office, and the Feedback function as a virtual equivalent of a short office-wide celebration. 

As a whole, the strategic adoption of OKRs — bolstered by other features of the Lattice platform, like updates and 1:1s — has been an unbridled success for Qumu. As the year progresses, Qumu plans to roll out OKR functionality for all employees to ensure that the company maintains alignment on every level moving forward and fosters a robust virtual office environment.

Takeaways

  • Adopting OKRs has allowed Qumu to more fully embody its goals as a company, especially as an all-remote organization.
  • Lattice Updates, 1:1s, and Feedback help managers give employees actional feedback on wins and areas to improve which helps employees achieve tremendous success.
  • Qumu is so happy with improved employee alignment across the company through Lattice’s OKR functionality that they plan to roll it out to every employee at the end of the initial pilot.

Kim Minnick sometimes jokes that she works for America’s HR department. That isn’t a stretch: Minnick is the VP of People at Nava, an engineering and design firm that partners with government agencies to make public services more accessible to everyone. Nava’s biggest claim to fame? They were the ones who helped build the Healthcare.gov website — the version that worked. Customers include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the State of Vermont.

“The work is hard, but it makes us better people. Our company makes us do better,” Minnick said, reflecting on the pressure of having your products’ end-user be the U.S. population. Prior to joining Nava, Minnick worked at NerdWallet, Patreon, Survey Monkey, and Hired. Those experiences, and her time at Nava, helped Minnick discover her professional passion: Solving the puzzle of “how to build a kickass place to work.”

But Minnick had a “problem” that most HR professionals would clamor for: Her team got along really, really well. Positive feedback flows easily, but her fellow “Navanauts” needed better tools and support for sharing constructive feedback. While she didn’t want to undermine that spirit, Minnick did want to foster an environment where accountability and career growth were still possible. You can’t develop without being challenged, and in Minnick’s own words, the company needed to “find a balance between high engagement and high performance.”

“We have a syndrome that I call ‘Nava-nice.’ Everyone is just so, so kind. And everybody wants to celebrate each other and say amazing things — but that feedback isn’t always candid,” she said. With the company growing in headcount and public exposure, leadership knew it was time to mature their approach to performance management. “We really wanted to be intentional about our evaluations. We needed a space for celebration and excitement, but one that would also give us the ability to focus our feedback.” 

Using Lattice

Nava turned to Lattice to manage employee engagement surveys and performance reviews, adopting a “2×2” approach: Two semi-annual reviews, two employee engagement surveys. That’s also a model that Lattice Advisory Services recommends in most cases, given its versatility for stable and reasonably fast-growing companies.

“We use our engagement surveys to help our culture, but they also contribute to our business strategy,” she said. She uses Lattice’s Analytics to filter sentiment by a handful of different fields, like department, manager, and employee demographics. Just as importantly, she can cut the data by who’s working with a specific client or project. “Naturally, some of our employees are kind of siloed on contracts. If we see low engagement, or burnout, or significant issues on particular projects, we may reconsider re-engaging with that contract.”

Minnick also found that running surveys and sharing her analysis has bred a spirit of transparency and accountability for her HR team. “If we ask people for their opinions, we need to share those opinions with them. We go through and read their written feedback, develop themes, and start having action planning conversations.”

“Our last review cycle felt very grown-up for us. We could still talk about successes, but with a growth mindset.”

And that broader accountability she wanted for the rest of her company? Minnick found it by running semi-annual reviews in Lattice. The platform’s 360 performance reviews gave her team space to reflect on the past six months without eschewing Nava-nice entirely. While managers and direct reports were empowered to offer praise and constructive feedback, just as importantly, cross-team peers could, too. That made the transition to “grown-up” reviews, as Minnick called them, a more natural exercise for her already tight-knit culture.

“We really wanted to be intentional. We curated questions and built out opportunities that folks could really celebrate the accomplishments that they’ve had, that their peers could celebrate their successes,” Minnick said. Seeing objectives and key results side-by-side with performance review scorecards made it easier for peers to both celebrate and identify opportunities for improvement. “Our last review cycle felt very grown-up for us. We could still talk about successes, but with a growth mindset.”

Impact of Lattice

Minnick feels that implementing Lattice hasn’t just made her job easier, it’s empowered her to be a better HR leader. Employees are more open to sharing constructive feedback, and everyone feels heard thanks to the platform’s intuitive Pulse and engagement surveys. The latter has been especially valuable for Minnick, who now spends less time fielding one-off questions about software and more time analyzing engagement data.

“You don’t have to remember where everything is. You don’t have to find the link for the Google Doc survey. You go to Lattice, and it’s on your dashboard,” she said. That ease-of-use, especially with respect to engagement and Pulse surveying, has made it so much easier to gather actionable employee data. “That experience is a low barrier to entry, so you’re going to get more data. We can get so many more employee stories this way.”

Beyond the expected benefits of implementing a people management platform, Minnick believes the choice to go with Lattice helped Nava’s culture weather the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were feeling disconnected and juggling so much at first,” Minnick said. Like most business leaders, she was worried about the company’s culture withstanding the transition to remote work. While employees were big believers in peer recognition before the pandemic, Lattice’s praise feature took that tradition to the nth degree. 

“The praise feature got used so much, and our company shout-outs only got stronger,” she said, reflecting on how that steady flow of recognition helped her power through the pandemic’s most challenging days. Being able to send and receive recognition using Lattice’s built-in Slack integration made it possible to integrate praise into everyone’s workflow. In her own words, “Lattice allowed us to hold on to who we are, even when we weren’t together.” 

While Lucy Maresco has been CoEnterprise’s VP of People for over a year, she’s only spent six weeks in the company’s office – courtesy of a worldwide pandemic. Those six weeks were luckily all she needed to get a feel for the fast-paced, growing culture of supply chain and business analytics solutions company, CoEnterprise. “CoEnterprise is very people-focused. One of our core values is collaboration and people really take that to heart. Our people work well together, they help each other, and they look out for each other,” said Lucy.

CoEnterprise understands how pivotal every employee is to overall business success, which is why the company’s leadership team hired Lucy to help scale HR and talent practices. “It’s fairly obvious to us that happy, engaged, and productive employees are what will really help us grow and fuel the business,” explained Lucy. “The past few years, we’ve been focused on investing in our people. All of our initiatives this year are focused on career development, making sure we bring in the right talent, and getting a formalized structure in place for how we manage, connect, motivate, acknowledge, and ultimately retain our people.”

Another area the small HR team wanted to invest in? Managers. With over 30 new and seasoned people leaders across the organization, Lucy and Corinna needed a way to engage their managers, provide them with helpful resources, and ensure they were regularly meeting with their teams. “I was getting a bit frustrated because the managers weren’t reading our emails,” said Corinna, who would spend a few hours a month amassing an HR newsletter for managers to stay up-to-date on the latest company news, HR initiatives, and manager resources. “We knew there must be a better way to communicate with our managers that’s not just via email.” 

The CoEnterprise team also had no way of knowing if managers were having weekly one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. “We’d always wished we had an area where our managers could capture interactions with their direct reports,” explained Corinna. “We were seeking a robust solution that would help empower our managers with easy-to-use tools that provide a consistent structure for employee connection, communication, feedback, and performance management. We wanted to be more aware of where we were lacking so we could improve.”

Just a few years ago, the company tried using Microsoft Word and its HRIS to execute employee performance reviews to no avail. Leveraging multiple makeshift systems proved to be an unstructured administrative headache for the company’s employees, managers, and HR team, who couldn’t even reliably track if performance conversations were taking place. The team’s accountability strategy usually involved Corinna having to persistently check in with, ‘Where’s your performance review?’ to drive Managers to completion. 

Using Lattice at CoEnterprise

What was it that sold Lucy and Corinna on Lattice? After an in-depth analysis of employee engagement solutions available in the market, Lattice’s robust functionality, ease of use and intuitive employee experience positioned Lattice as an immediate contender for CoEnterprise. During their search, Lucy and Corinna realized they both recognized Lattice from two promotional mugs they’d coincidentally acquired from separate events. Considering the matching swag a promising sign, Lucy and Corinna dived deeper into their evaluation of Lattice which included a multi-day trial, only to find it was the sole solution that could solve every one of their challenges and then some! 

For Corinna, Lattice’s intuitive UI is what initially stood out to her. She knew it was a system her employees could quickly and easily adopt and she had a hunch the user-centric design would win a few brownie points with her SaaS-tech workforce. But, what really sold her was the amount of data and insights her team could access on the platform. “We’re a data company and I’ve never seen so much data in my life,” swooned Corinna. “Now, we can make informed decisions or tailor certain processes based on what the data tells us.” Finally, her team could have visibility into employee engagement, performance reviews, and management practices.

Lucy, on the other hand, was struck by Lattice’s ability to serve up “management in a box.” Lattice’s Performance tool has a comprehensive digital toolkit for engaging, developing, managing and retaining employees. “It gives them all the tools they need to be effective and manage their teams proactively as opposed to reactively. It allows for that two-way relationship between manager and direct report to happen more naturally and more consistently,” explained Lucy. 

But, Lattice not only helped strengthen manager-employee relationships, but it also helped improve the HR team’s rapport with managers. In the past, only a few people leaders took advantage of the team’s open office hours, and even fewer read or clicked Corinna’s thoughtful, detailed newsletters.  After implementing Lattice, the team introduced a monthly “Manager Corner” meeting to communicate better with people leaders across the organization. 

“Most often I start with Lattice and we’ll cover our updates and one-on-one participation and leaderboards. I figure out the percentage of participation for a quarter to date and our managers can see where they stand to hold them accountable,” said Corinna. The team also uses meeting time to share basic tips and best practices and carves out discussion time so managers can share what’s working well for them or where they need help. Overall, Corinna said the meeting has not only helped increase the adoption of Lattice’s one-on-ones tool but it’s also helped create a community for their people leaders.

The CoEnterprise team also fell in love with Lattice’s employee development tool Grow which allowed them to create career tracks to share with managers and employees. “Corinna can tell you how many cartwheels I did because the career development framework I rolled out prior to onboarding Lattice perfectly mirrors the framework used in Grow. I was laying out competencies and career tracks in Excel and Word with my managers and now it’s all in Lattice,” said Lucy. “I still get excited about Grow because I feel like it was just made for us.”

Impact of Lattice

While the CoEnterprise team has only used Lattice for less than a year, they were surprised by the substantial impact it’s had on their organization in such a short time. Lucy and Corinna were shocked to learn that even with their small HR team, CoEnterprise outperformed most engagement and performance benchmarks for their industry. “We love the ability to quantify where our employees stand in terms of themes in pulse and eNPS surveys. Data gives us the ability to have clear insight into our employee base and empowers us to create solutions to address challenges,” stated Lucy.

The biggest win for Lucy and Corinna since implementing Lattice? Organization-wide behavior change. “We’ve seen steady one-on-one participation among our managers. That was a challenge for us as a company and I feel like we’re becoming more consistent,” explained Lucy. “If we have a consistent approach to how we interact with and manage our employees and actually hold our managers accountable, we can build on that.” With over 1,800 one-on-ones completed in under a year and a review cycle completion rate of 95%, it’s clear the CoEnterprise team has a strong foundation on which to build an even stronger management team. 

Lucy has also made progress against the team’s 2021 goal of “ensuring every employee has an individual development plan.” Using Growth Areas in Lattice, Lucy and Corinna have started to populate and publish career tracks for specific departments across the organization. They were even able to customize the framework to add in an additional step that incorporates using the Lattice performance review module for a manager assessment, as well as the employee’s self-assessment of current competencies within the position level that becomes the basis for discussion in creating the employee’s Growth Plan. 

While the CoEnterprise team is happy with their results so far, they are optimistic Lattice can continue to empower their people initiatives in the future. “I’m excited to see the longer-term impact and understand how our work is affecting turnover, retention, and internal mobility. That’s what I want to get to and be able to measure and I believe Lattice will help us have a direct impact on those things,” said Lucy.

As for what comes next, Lucy added, “We’re excited to use Lattice data to draw conclusions we can use to help us decide on future initiatives and identify areas for improvement. We’re still fine-tuning and figuring out what is the right recipe for us, but growth is definitely in our future in a big way.”

Takeaways

  • Lattice gave the CoEnterprise HR team easy access to workplace data and analytics, so they can be more strategic, hold managers accountable, and prove the success of their people initiatives
  • In just under a year, the company saw manager engagement spike, with over 1,800 one-on-ones logged in Lattice
  • CoEnterprise was able to ditch Word Doc performance reviews and achieve a 95% review cycle completion rate
  • Using Grow, the team has built out detailed career tracks so employees and managers have a clear understanding of how to grow professionally within the company