Managing People

The Secrets Behind Lattice’s Best-in-Class Manager Training Program

May 1, 2024
May 2, 2024
Jaclyn Lewin
Lattice Team

Good managers are the linchpin to any successful organization. But what can companies do to improve their effectiveness and ensure excellence?

That’s the question on many HR leaders’ minds these days — and one that Lattice’s learning and development (L&D) team set out to answer by designing a best-in-class internal manager training program.

The result is Manager Blueprint, the brainchild of Lattice’s head of L&D Mollie Duffy and L&D program manager Kelsey Poleyeff. The program helps managers hone foundational leadership skills and develop high-performing teams. A year in, the program has received rave reviews and is creating a measurable impact.

Duffy and Poleyeff joined a Lattice webinar to share insights from their experience, including how they conceived of the program, tips for getting started, and tactics for leveraging data to track outcomes and drive improvements. 

Speaking to What People Care About

Duffy and Poleyeff first conducted a listening tour with senior leaders from across the company to understand the specific challenges managers faced. They also used Lattice engagement surveys to identify employee needs. “It gave us space to define what good management looks like here at Lattice,” Poleyeff explained.

They compiled the feedback and distilled some overriding themes to develop the program's focus areas. They then tied those themes to the needs detected in the engagement surveys. “You need to make sure you’re speaking to what [people] care about,” Duffy recommended.

Securing buy-in from leadership started with a mandate from the Chief People Officer to prioritize manager development in 2023. Duffy and Poleyeff then looked for other program champions at the executive level and recruited them to help advocate internally and get involved as speakers and experts.

The L&D team clearly communicated how they would use metrics to prove the program’s value. “We said: Here’s how we’re going to measure the outcomes and success — so that people knew they were going to be able to see whether the investment was worth it,” Duffy said.

Questions Needing Answers

Bringing an idea to fruition is easier said than done — and the transition from concept to implementation is a common place to get stuck. Duffy and Poleyeff offered tips for tackling the critical decisions that can unlock the process. 

Poleyeff suggested going step-by-step through a series of open questions:

1. Who?

  • Which managers will be included?
  • How many people will be in each session?
  • Will the program be opt-in or mandatory?

Lattice decided to create a mandatory program for all managers below the VP level in cohorts of approximately 15 people. “We wanted to keep it small enough that people felt comfortable getting to know each other and talking about hard things, but not so small that we were never going to be able to [train] our managers in the amount of time we had,” Poleyeff explained.

2. What?

  • What will the program cover?
  • What will it leave out?

In their listening tour, the L&D team learned that managers wanted additional support around difficult conversations and communicating vision strategy. However, “we decided to leave coaching out of this round, because we wanted to focus more on foundational skills,” Poleyeff said.

3. When?

  • How long will the program last?
  • How much time will managers be asked to spend?

Lattice designed a six-month program of eight initial weekly sessions followed by four monthly follow-on sessions to check in on goals and behaviors and keep managers engaged.

4. Where?

  • Will the program be in-person, remote, or hybrid?

The first Lattice session was full-day and in-person; the rest were virtual. “We really recommend having that in-person session at first to build rapport among participants. Then that helps with the following remote sessions,” Duffy explained.

5. How?

  • Who will create the content?
  • How will participants set goals and track outcomes?

The L&D team created its content internally, tailoring it to the specific needs of its managers and bringing in senior leaders to share insights. “If you have the resources to ask external consultants to build out content for you, great. But if you don’t, you can definitely create it yourselves,” Duffy recommended.

Finally, the team tracked goals and outcomes by conducting 360-degree reviews at the beginning and end of the program, looking for improvements across all questions and cohorts. 

Designing for Impact

With the key decisions made, the next imperative was to ensure the program would have the greatest impact on people. Duffy and Poleyeff carefully planned strategies for driving engagement and excitement and setting people up for success before the program started.

The initial 360-degree review provided valuable feedback to help managers set specific and actionable goals to work on throughout the training. Participants then reviewed their results with their cohorts in the first in-person session, using strength-finding tools to define individual leadership styles.

“We really wanted to dig in within our manager population and help them get a good understanding of how their strengths play into how they’re leading their teams,” Poleyeff explained.

She described how she and Duffy structured the program's content, initially focusing on building relationships. “That first session is focused on the why. Why are you here? Why are you a leader at Lattice? What does this mean for leadership here at Lattice?”

From there, the program moved into foundational skills around inclusive leadership, difficult conversations, and feedback. It continued with more tactical skills, such as delegation, prioritization, strategic thinking, and vision setting. “We wanted to funnel people down from the biggest picture all the way to the tactical things that they’re going to do in their day-to-day work,” Poleyeff said.

Each cohort had its own Slack channel during the program, and participants were assigned accountability partners for weekly goal check-ins. The cohorts met again to discuss the results of the final 360-degree review. “There’s a lot of benefit in having a cohort come together and debrief after getting that much feedback,” Duffy said.

Measuring Success

The Lattice L&D team measured the success of their program in three ways: 

  • Session feedback: Managers completed a survey after each session asking whether they would recommend the training.
  • 360-degree reviews: Conducted before and after the program, the reviews included self, manager, peer, and upward feedback.
  • Engagement surveys: Lattice runs annual engagement surveys that include manager-specific questions.

Duffy and Polyeff defined metrics for all three feedback sources and saw improvements across all categories — demonstrating the program’s success. The results also provided valuable insight into how best to adjust and tweak future iterations.

Some final advice? “It’s never going to be a good time to do this,” Duffy said. “You just have to decide that now is the time and force people into it, and then they will appreciate it.”


This article is based on a webinar with Lattice’s head of L&D Mollie Duffy and L&D program manager Kelsey Poleyeff. If you’re interested in trying out Lattice for yourself, click here to request a demo.