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  • Writer's pictureMark Harbottle

Review my review

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

What started with an innocent tweak to our company handbook snowballed into setting the structure and practices around our review process. At Cronofy we're always asking ourselves 'could we do better?' and this really was one of those occasions.


I recognised quite early on that our employee handbook needed some updating. References to new tools, where to go to book an absence, and even a few new security policies. Discussing these with our Head of Operations I realised there wasn't a policy around reviews and 1:1's, particularly as these are so important to us. Verbally I knew that our Managers run regular 1:1's (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) and we provide annual reviews. In line with how we like to operate, our Managers have the freedom and ownership to run these how they wanted, and we encourage our team members to set the agendas and drive their L&D. This was very successful and worked - but could we do better?


We've almost doubled our headcount in 2021, and we found that new members of the business were asking about where they could go and how they could progress. Our competency framework has been designed to show the variety of directions anyone can go within Cronofy, however I found a gap in terms of offering this, and how we are consistently delivering on it.


Speaking to Managers across the business there were a range of approaches to 1:1's and reviews. We needed a set template which meant that there was some equality around how we are all talking to our team members, and some consistency around career development. I felt we needed a Performance Management tool that would satisfy the following objectives:

  • 1:1's with anyone, and the ability to create templates within these

  • A review structure

  • Clear links to our competency framework, so career growth and learning could not only be defined, but linked back to 1:1's so they are part of the conversation, not just 'something to put in the agenda'.

We chose to implement Lattice, a cracking SaaS product with deserved popularity. I reached out to my network for feedback (overwhelmingly positive) and we ran a trial internally to really see how it works day to day. Decision made, and during the implementation process we created templates for the following:


1:1's

  • A discussion not just around the job but life as well. A proper check-in not some formal meeting

  • Opportunities to brag about anything (really, anything)

  • Upcoming work, concerns, fulfillment

  • Longer term goals and skills to develop (more importantly, what are we doing to achieve these)

As part of this, everyone is working towards creating their own BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and we believe it's our responsibility to support making that a reality. In one instance, a team member at Cronofy wants to run their own business one day, so in a 1:1 we really could be asking 'how are we moving towards you leaving us?' and I adore this, we're really emphasising growth for the benefit of an individual, not just for us.


Our 1:1's will also feed into growth goals - either in line with individual competencies or specific learning objectives. It means that at any time these can be discussed so no one is ever hanging on for a formal review.


Reviews:

We're a business that like to keep things light and straight forward. Every 6 months someone will have a review, and once a year everyone will have the chance to run 360 reviews (stop, start, continue) from their peers to support the discussion. Feedback is so important and we encourage everyone to be honest in the knowledge that it will never be taken personally.


Our review template is really straight forward:

  • Progress

  • Anything specific to discuss

  • Assessment against the competency framework

In line with the final bullet point, reviewee and reviewer go through the statements of the competencies within their role, and agree on a score between 1-4. Scoring is designed to offer subjectivity around performance and also provide clarity on future improvement, growth and training. It's a subjective topic, and this was discussed heavily internally. What's the difference between 2 and 3? Will people fear this or look at it negatively? Ultimately it comes down to trust - a score agreed by both parties, with open communication to reach a decision. It shouldn't be a surprise - our 1:1's are constantly discussing these areas and we encourage issues to be tackled early.


The 4-point scale also prevents managers leaning on the middle-of-the-road averages, and somewhat reduces the opportunity for bias or preferential treatment. Our definitions are:

  1. Does not meet expectations

  2. Meets expectations

  3. Exceeds expectations

  4. Consistently exceeds expectations

For each score, there is a tangible outcome - something that can be done to improve, or in fact progress to the next level.


Final thoughts


We felt that this process offered some commitment to our teams in terms of delivering L&D and career opportunities, provided regular discussions to prevent any issues taking over, and still gave individuals the chance to drive the agenda and lead their own learning at Cronofy.


In our policies (the ol' employee handbook) we've committed to at least one 1:1 per month, and at least two reviews every 12 months, with one round including 360 feedback. All Managers are over-delivering on this which shows the fantastic commitment to our teams.


We've only just rolled this out internally, so there's going to be bumps along the way. I can't wait to see how people progress within our business as this review process provides the foundation for career development.

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