Performance Management

HR Leaders Share Their Top Talent Review Tips

April 12, 2024
April 17, 2024
Lucas Manzanilla
Lattice Team

Lattice’s Talent Reviews feature is finally here. Using our software, Lattice customers will be now able to facilitate comprehensive top-down assessments of a company’s talent at any time, powering a configurable employee 9-box to identify and align on high-potential employees and facilitate succession planning

To ring in the news, we asked HR leaders to share their tips for conducting more successful talent reviews. Here’s what they had to share. 

1. What advice would you give someone starting out with talent reviews? 

Cecilia McElearney, head of people at Instabase: First and foremost, I think that you need to align on what your business objectives are and ensure that you have the right stakeholders in place. That being the people team, leadership team, and people managers — while also taking feedback from employees across the company.

It's also figuring out what the right timeline is. It's ensuring that you have the right tools in place, and it's also ensuring that you are figuring out ways to reward your talent. Your product and business strategy are incredibly important, but so is retaining your talent. Talent reviews are a great mechanism to ensure that you're able to do that.

Megan Lamberti, senior HR manager at Cahill Contractors: First off, decide how talent reviews fit into your entire performance management system. Are you going to do it once a year or twice a year? You also need to understand the criteria, so people are being measured the same way. It’s also about making sure the right people are in the room and part of the talent review. Having a tool is really helpful as well, as all the information can be in one place and then edited over time.

John Pichay, VP of People at Imgix: First, you should make sure that you have clear expectations written down. This can be in the form of job levels, career ladders, or even a job description, just so people will know what it looks like to be successful in their current role and the next level up. This will help review conversations be more objective and you can reference these job levels or career ladders when you are having the review conversation.

2. What are some common mistakes to avoid with talent reviews? 

Megan: Number one, as with anything related to performance, is bias. Specifically, making sure that we are aware of our conscious and unconscious biases. With talent reviews as well, recency bias can often come up. So making sure that we're checking ourselves and we're going through the review process. I think also data, making sure that good data is going into the process. We want good data to come out of it as well.

John: A common mistake to avoid while doing talent reviews is not being prepared to have the actual review conversation. By prepared, I mean not being properly trained on how to provide a constructive and objective review, because there's definitely a wrong way to do it. So lean on your HR team to train you on how to do a proper review. Or if you don't have an HR team, ask your manager for feedback on how you deliver your review.

Cecelia: You really need to be able to articulate the “why” and ensure that everyone across the board understands that this is actually something that's really fantastic for you and your career growth...We want to ensure that we're growing alongside the pace of the company. Lattice is a great tool to be able to utilize to ensure that you are accomplishing those goals across the board.

A Lattice screenshot featuring a 9-box grid. Employees, represented by colorful bubbles, are scattered on the grid.
Lattice's Talent Reviews feature makes it easy to visualize in a 9-box grid where your employees stand with respect to potential and performance. The feature is already live and available to Lattice customers.

3. How do you ensure talent reviews lead to actionable outcomes?

John: What comes next? It's the action planning stage. What I like to do is break up the two conversations. The first conversation is the talent review. Then a week later, we revisit and create action plans based on the feedback that is given during the review cycle. This gives your direct report a chance to digest the information and to think of goals that they want to work on over the next six to 12 months. This is a collaborative effort, so you need to make sure that you're both aligned on what needs to be done.

During the action planning stage, and when you're thinking about goals, also keep your company's objectives in mind. It's very important to know how direct reports’ projects or tasks rolls up to the company objectives...Also, what I like to do is add in a developmental goal to close the skill gaps that your direct report may have. This can be something that they can learn within your company, that they can take elsewhere to another company, or even outside of work into their real life.

Megan: After the talent reviews occur, make sure there are actual, actionable takeaways from it. This could mean a few things. Maybe there's a theme of different trainings that need to happen for the company. Or maybe there are folks who need some extra help or support in different areas. Or keeping an eye on top performers who might deserve a promotion soon, and supporting them in the way that they need. I also think it’s important to have someone in charge to manage that, either the manager or HR, to make sure that all this great data and insight is being used to help your employees move forward.

Cecelia: So, first and foremost, I think that you need to ensure that your talent reviews are tied to your business objectives and what your strategies are. It should also be tied to the level and competencies that your company has put together for each of your functions. This will really enable you to be able to look at your talent across the board and address succession planning. When someone's promoted, it allows you to figure out the right time to be able to open up a head count for backfill replacement and so forth. 

4. What excites you about Lattice's Talent Reviews?

Megan: I'm very excited to hear that Lattice is launching Talent Reviews. We just started doing talent reviews this year at our company, and we're using paper or everyone's taking notes during the session. So having an actual system that we already use to use talent reviews for is very exciting.

John: I'm really excited to learn more about the Talent Reviews launch from Lattice, because here at Imgix we actually do talent reviews with performance reviews. So it's really interesting to see how Lattice splits up the two. At the end of the day, it's all about your talent and how to make them improve in their skill set, and to identify that quickly, so we can create a better talent strategy.

Cecelia: I'm super excited to learn that Talent Reviews is launching. We implemented Lattice to run our performance review cycle. We use Lattice for our engagement pulse surveys, as well as our one-on-ones across the company. So this is just going to be a wonderful way to round out all things people related across the board.

With the launch of Lattice’s Talent Reviews tool, managers and HR professionals can efficiently conduct talent assessments to identify high-performers and make more informed business decisions. By using Lattice’s holistic performance management platform for talent assessments, companies can have access to unified and comprehensive employee data – such as past performance, feedback, goals, growth plans, and more. 

The all-in-one platform makes the entire process more equitable for employees thanks to its built-in reviews calibration. The result? More impactful talent reviews, easier succession planning, and quicker turnaround for promotion decisions and follow-up development conversations.

Visit Lattice’s Talent Management page and schedule a demo to see it in action.