What to expect from Stride’s talent review as a Strider

We designed and implemented our company’s talent review based on a sustainable process that grows every employee’s career, in a way that aligns with who we are as individuals and who we want to be as an organization.

At Stride, we pride ourselves on our values-aligned culture, and we build every step of an employee’s journey on the foundation of those values. Starting with our equitable, compact interview, we apply the same set of principles to every interaction—including our talent review process.

 

A collaborative talent review

Most organizations conduct some version of a talent review, in which managers and team leaders meet to evaluate employee performance in the wider context of the organization. In some companies, this might mean creating a comparative ranking, assessing an employee’s competencies, and approving promotions. 

We took a different approach to Stride’s talent review. We built ours from scratch, basing it on Stride’s specific core values, and every Stride employee was given an opportunity to voice their feedback and ideas to make the process better. The creation and evolution of the talent review reflected Stride’s emphasis on maintaining a collaborative, supportive workplace, and our belief that nothing should be designed without involving the people who will be affected.

 

Dynamism is key

At Stride, we believe in continuous growth. We look upon our processes the same way we view the people who work for Stride: growth requires ongoing learning and improvement, and we are happy to help one another grow.

Our first version of the Stride talent review was far from perfect. We defined the capabilities by which our employees’ growth would be evaluated, but in practical application, we found that some of those capabilities were not the right fit. Fortunately, Striders have an agile mindset! We came together again, determined what worked and what didn’t, and made changes to the capability definitions.

After multiple iterations, our talent review appropriately reflected the capabilities that Striders felt they not only should have, but want to have.

 

Capabilities, not competencies

The Stride career path is heavily focused on the cycle of learning and teaching. As a result, we provide a path of growth for employees based on core capabilities, not competencies. Capabilities are the knowledge, skills, and abilities that align with your strengths and interests, and they are agile to meet what our future world needs. How those capabilities look in practice is dynamic, and the expression of a capability can change based on an employee’s proficiency level. Competencies, however, are more static. These are skills that can be checked off on a list once they are attained, with little or no ability to be applied across proficiency level.

That is why our talent review was ultimately defined by three categories of capabilities. Those are:

  • Organizational: What are the capabilities that make Stride what it is? What are the ones that everyone is expected to have? What makes us who we are?
  • Values-based: Across the organization, how are Striders modeling our core values?
  • Technical: What are the core capabilities an employee should have within the functional area of their particular expertise?

We evaluate these capabilities in the talent review process based on proficiency level, from not yet started, to developing, to proficient, to fluent, to mastering. The talent review accommodates and encourages growth, and the expectations for each level are different.

The cycle of learning and teaching also comes into play in the talent review. Achieving the fluent level is about teaching others—whether within one’s team, across the organization, or outwardly to clients and the community. Helping others to build the skills that they need was intentionally incorporated into the proficiency levels of the talent review to help Striders live our philosophy of growth.

 

Applying the Stride talent review

What does the talent review look like in practice? Three times a year, we ask our employees to do a self-evaluation against the capabilities defined in the review. Employees also nominate peers to give feedback on their performance, and Striders can even solicit feedback from clients as part of that process. Together with an evaluation from the person’s manager, all of these assessments are brought by the manager to a talent review session with organizational leadership, with the goal of better understanding Stride’s talent landscape.

Both the standardization and the calibration we gain from evaluating employees across capabilities and proficiency levels provide a more equitable process for promotion and a clear path for growth. With the values front and center, we are holding one another accountable through modeling, teaching, and celebrating our capabilities.

We have seen proof of our talent review’s efficacy in many ways. In one example, following a gap identification during one round of a talent review, an employee worked with their manager and team members to close that gap and earned a promotion during the next review round.

 

A unique approach to growth

At Stride, our talent review is not a tool for comparing or ranking people against one another. Our assumption is that everyone can grow and that everyone grows at different paces. Our job is to give employees the support they need to position them to be successful. That’s why we built our talent review in a collaborative way. We believe the people who are impacted by the tool should be an integral part of designing it.

Our talent review process currently fits our culture and our shared goals. But we also recognize that it is not a static process and can change as the employment landscape changes. Being able to grow our processes, to match the evolution of our organization, clients, and the global marketplace, is key.


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