Lattice Insights

How Lattice Drives High Performance and Talent Density

March 13, 2024
March 22, 2024
Cara Brennan Allamano
Lattice Team

At Transform this week, one of the questions I keep getting asked over and over is how Lattice maintains a high bar for talent in our organization. Naturally, as companies like ours scale and set increasingly ambitious goals, doing this becomes much more difficult.

Talent density is being talked about a lot in HR circles right now. Case in point: this perspective from Josh Bersin. But the concept was originated by Netflix, which described it back in 2020 in their book, No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention. Simply, talent density refers to the ratio of high-performing employees to total headcount. It's not just about filling seats, it’s about hiring people with the skills that optimize teams based on what the company needs to be successful and then aligning them to tackle shared goals. 

At Lattice, we know companies are under immense pressure right now to achieve more with their existing talent. This necessitates a strategic approach to talent management, focusing on increasing talent density across the business. 

Here’s my perspective on keeping talent density high, and how that translates into action here at Lattice:

  • Optimizing talent: Hiring should focus on the combination of skills and motivation. For example, Netflix looks to hire people who are additive or multiplicative to the entire team. We take a similar approach. But hiring shouldn’t be your primary lever: Developing top performers from within is just as important, so we implemented a continuous performance strategy. Our managers conduct performance check-ins with their reports every other quarter, on top of the regular feedback they receive in the flow of work.

  • Alignment: Talent density relies on organizational alignment and team goals. When there are too many individual goals employees end up working in silos and not seeing the bigger picture. Leadership’s job is to create that alignment with OKRs and goal-setting at the company level that cascades down. And then managers are responsible for leveraging that alignment to guide performance at the individual and team level. We set quarterly goals here at Lattice, and advise most of our customers to do the same.
  • Feedback and Accountability: Your top performers want feedback — they also want to share it with others, as they enjoy working with other high performers. Creating an environment where continuous feedback is part of your team’s culture and cadence is critical to keeping your talent density high. We built our feedback tool to make it easy to give constructive feedback and praise at any moment (and even in the tools you already use for communication, like Slack) and I’m proud to say we’re avid users internally.
  • Talent Reviews: A critical component of talent density is knowing who your top performers are at every level in the organization. This is an exercise we do twice a year across all our managers, which also serves the purpose of calibrating on what good looks like as the company continues to evolve. We use Lattice’s 9-box Talent Review to look at the potential and performance of each employee to evaluate how to grow our talent and then use our performance reviews process to turn it into action. 
With Talent Reviews, Lattice customers can view their team's talent density at a glance.
  • Growth: A crucial part of management is coaching employees from “meeting expectations” to “exceeding expectations.”  That includes optimizing roles and developing employee strengths based on the company’s needs. Our managers conduct growth check-ins with their teams every other quarter, ensuring employees have individual development plans in place, so they have what they need to realize their short and long-term career goals beyond the performance review cycle.

  • Engagement: Keeping high performers is just as important as bringing them in. That means proactively measuring and tracking attrition risks over time. Our software lets HR leaders and managers report on real-time engagement and filter by performance ratings. With our AI-Powered Engagement Insights tool, Lattice customers can identify trends, opportunities, and where to intervene quickly.
  • Compensation: Your highest performers are sought after externally. A deliberate, structured approach to pay for performance ensures you’re competitively rewarding top talent and incentivizing them to achieve even more. Pay-for-performance is an integral part of Lattice’s compensation philosophy, so we take an intentional approach to merit cycles, pay bands, and benchmarking. 

  • Analytics: Maintaining or increasing talent density requires HR teams to keep a pulse on performance and engagement across departments and teams. Engagement and performance go hand in hand, if we see a slip in engagement, we know it impacts our productivity. We use Lattice Analytics to understand the total health and participation of our employees, not just what they share in surveys, but also their interactions with managers, participation in reviews, and weekly satisfaction scores.

Those are just some of the ways we keep our talent density high. You won’t find gimmicks: We believe maintaining a high bar for talent means prioritizing the fundamentals, like regular performance conversations, clear growth tracks, and robust people analytics practices.

As companies (and their HR teams) continue looking for ways to do more with less, talent density will only become even more of a priority. A big part of that is ensuring managers are always trying to raise the bar — which is why continuous performance is such a big part of our people strategy. To learn more about Lattice’s internal continuous performance strategy, watch my colleagues, Sophie Hurcombe and Mia Remar, discuss it in detail in How Lattice Built Its Continuous Performance and Engagement Strategy.