👋 Join us for a special webinar Thursday, January 11th
Learn More

Employee Reviews at Latchel: What Are Your Superpowers?

The Latchel Team
November 21, 2019
At Latchel we take culture incredibly seriously. Before starting the company and finalizing what problem we were going to solve, the founders agreed to manage the company according to a shared set of Leadership Principles.
The Leadership Principles have been an incredibly useful tool for creating a shared language and set of values at Latchel. However, as our team grew and there became opportunities for career growth we found we needed a better tool for describing what exactly was required to advance within the company. While the Leadership Principles offered good clues to what we value as a company, we struggled to connect the abstract values into practical and actionable advice for each position.
Luckily, one of our investors and advisors was working on the same problem. Gregor Purdy is the founder of Trefoil Advisory. He is also ex-Amazon, was a co-founder at pro.com, and was our due diligence lead when we participated in and won the Seattle Angel Conference. He spent a lot of time dissecting Amazon’s Leadership Principles into their constituent behaviors and mindsets and has developed several frameworks and products using these principles to help businesses grow and excel. His most recent product is the Superpower Pack.
The Superpower Pack is a deck of cards describing 13 “Superpowers” and breaking them down into 4 contributing “Powers”. This is all organized neatly into a functional deck of cards.
Employee Reviews at Latchel: What Are Your Superpowers?
Trefoil Advisory’s Superpower Pack. Source: https://trefoiladvisory.com/superpower-pack/
We were lucky enough to get our hands on an early version of the product and immediately saw the value in these cards for helping guide our quarterly review process. Also, since Latchel’s Leadership Principles are heavily influenced by Amazon, the Superpower Pack aligned perfectly with Latchel’s own Leadership Principles.

Building a Performance Review Structure

Here’s how we used the Superpower Pack.
  1. For each role in the company, we selected 3 required and 3 desired Superpowers. Narrowing it down to just these 6 Superpowers is important for giving focus on what matters. While we see all of our Leadership Principles as essential for anyone in the company, we see these 6 Superpowers as the keys to excel in an individual role.
  2. For each person in the company, we ranked the supporting Powers. We took the supporting Powers for each of the 6 Superpowers tied to their role (24 cards total) and sorted the powers according to whether they were a Danger (their performance in that Power creates a liability for the company), Challenge (they struggle with this Power in a way that negatively impacts their job performance), Potential (they demonstrate aptitude in this Power, but developing it further can significantly improve their job performance), or Role Model (their performance of this Power makes them a role model within the company).We were careful to rank people according to their role, not their level. This allows us to have one continuum of performance measurement from our front line to most senior employees. It also means if you advance within the role you’re performance doesn’t just start over.
  3. We created a standard performance management scale. After sorting the Powers and tallying the results across our employees, we developed a system to measure performance against expectations. We already used “Needs Improvement” “Meets Expectations” “Exceeds Expectations” and “Outstanding” as performance evaluations. We have a rule that to receive a promotion you need 3 consecutive “Exceeds Expectations” reviews or 1 “Outstanding”.

Tying the Superpower Pack to Performance Ratings

By using the Superpower Pack we can quantify what is required for each performance evaluation. To quantify each rating, we looked at the distribution of Danger, Challenge, Potential, and Role Model scores across each job level in the company. We saw a surprisingly consistent pattern across job levels, regardless of role. This indicated to us that we were on the right track with this system. For each job level we established an expected number of Challenge powers, Potential Powers, Role Model Powers, and Superpowers (someone has a Superpower when all 4 Powers for a Superpower fall under Role Model).

More specifically, for each job level we have expectations around:
  1. A maximum number of Challenge Powers.
  2. A minimum number of Role Model Powers.
  3. A minimum number of Superpowers.
We then created a standard for each of the performance levels:
  1. Outstanding: The employee meets all three of the expectations above for the next job level.
  2. Exceeds Expectations: The employee meets 2 out of 3 of the expectations for the next job level.
  3. Needs Improvement: The employee has more Challenge Powers than expected for their current job level OR they have any Powers in “Danger”.
  4. Meets Expectations: Any other scenario falls under Meets Expectations.

The Superpower Pack in Action

After building the above system, we launched the review and did it live with our employees for feedback!
Overall the experience was positive and we will continue using the Superpower Packs for our future Quarterly Reviews.  A few best practices I’d recommend:
  1. Every employee should have a deck of cards before the review. We sent everyone a deck of cards after the review cycle. The conversations with the employees who had a deck of cards was much easier than those who received their review before they received their deck of cards.
  2. Emphasize the review is based on performance, not character. Most of the Powers are words that feel like they are a reflection on one’s character (e.g. empathy, truthfulness). This can make it difficult to receive the feedback unless the employee is able to relate it specifically to their job performance. It is possible to be an extremely empathetic person but not demonstrate empathy while performing your job. These are two different things and it is important for employees to understand this before receiving the review and reiterating it afterward.
  3. Tie each Power to specific behaviors and performance objectives. This makes it easier to understand ares for improvement and creates a realistic path for personal development. For me, as I am personally sorting the cards for an employee I found taking notes on why I chose a specific ranking made writing the review easier.

Who Should Use the Superpower Pack?

I would recommend using this system for any company large enough to have regular performance reviews. It made the development conversations much easier and more understandable for our employees.

Alternatively, individuals who want a simple and robust framework for their own personal development could use the Superpower Pack. For instance, one of our employees said the Superpower Pack is “a great way to get tangible feedback and track personal and professional growth metrics.”

If you do not have a formalized performance review process at your company, I recommend building one immediately. It greatly helps employees understand where they stand and how to improve. Using the Superpower Pack will make it easier to develop a process quickly and easily.

Share this
Share on print
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email

See why property managers love using Latchel

Copyright © 2022 Latchel
👋 Join us for a special webinar Thursday, January 11th