Ready to learn more?
Share some info and we'll get in touch shortly
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form
How to Grow Your Managers at Scale [WEBINAR RECAP]
Morgan Chaney
September 18, 2018

Today we flipped the script on our traditional webinar format, hosting a lively and fast-paced panel of HR leaders uncovering their best practices and internal programs for growing their manager talent at scale.

But why is manager development important to Blueboard? I thought you focused on employee rewards and recognition?

It turns out that managers are an incredibly value tool for driving employee engagement (as bad managers contribute to 70% of the variance in your engagement surveys, per Gallup), and at Blueboard we support a host of great companies empowering their managers to recognize and reward their top ICs with experiential gifts for employees.

Empowering managers to reward great work does a number of things for your company culture:

  1. Spot recognition helps to bond the manager to their employees, building healthier working dynamics and relationships. The rewarded employee feels truly seen and valued, and understands that their manager is supportive of the hard work they're producing for your company.
  2. Manager-driven recognition helps to model what great work looks like across the wider team. It gives managers the opportunity to clearly point to the actions, milestones and behaviors deserving of recognition, helping the wider team to copy and emulate. The more people on your team working towards the same shared goals, the better your business outcomes will become.
  3. Experiential employee rewards are naturally shareable. At Blueboard, because we solely focus on experiences as employee rewards, the recognition stories that come from the employee's experience (photos from their Michelin night out, video of their skydiving trip or learning to fly the trapeze), make for incredibly authentic moments to bond the team together and to create a culture centered around meaningful appreciation of each other's excellent work.
  4. Manager-driven recognition fosters accountability, it's more controlled and less easily gamed or manipulated. We often find with peer-to-peer recognition programs, employees can easily misunderstand the rules or expectations for what behavior deserves the reward, often leading to employees bonusing each other for daily tasks or favors like picking up an extra coffee, or watching their dog while they stepped out for a client meeting. These are nice-to-haves no doubt, but often not how you intended your recognition budget to be utilized.

You can read more about the power of manager-driven recognition programs, and how they contribute to more productive, engaged managers, in this blog post by our Co-founder and COO, Kevin Yip.

Additionally during the webinar, we shared access to a new eBook on the topic of "How to Improve Employee Retention". In this eBook, we'll discuss how meaningful recognition programs are a low-hanging fruit for reducing employee turnover rates, and how recognition efforts can positively improve manager-to-employee relationships, leading to improved tenure rates and employee satisfaction. We'll also preview some of the programs our customers are running to meet these goals. Grab a copy and let me know what your favorite learning is as you dig in.

As you watch the webinar recap below, I'd love to hear from you. Would you like to see more HR Roundtable events, with a group of 3 or more HR practitioner speakers? If so, which topics are most interesting to you that we can cover through our panel of experts? Feel free to share in the comments section below, or email me directly at

Besides talking about the power of manager-driven recognition efforts, our panel of experts had some amazing initiatives to share. Here are our favorite takeaways from each of the four panelists:

Cindy Lopez-Larson, Director, People & Operations at Wheelhouse DMG

Cindy covered how to get started with understanding the needs of your manager workforce, beginning with leveraging engagement data to diagnose your manager growth needs. Key questions Cindy includes in their engagement survey to understand how Wheelhouse is delivering, include:

  1. On a scale of 1-10, How well known and understood do you feel by your manager?
  2. On a scale of 1-10, How well cared for do you feel by your manager?

These questions are crucial for supporting Wheelhouse's commitment to their company values, which also are designed to support and foster strong manager-to-employee relationships. These values include:

  1. Empathy: Managers are empathetic and aware of their team member’s needs
  2. Generosity: Managers are focused on outcomes for engagement, vs. costs associated
  3. Stewardship: Managers are advocates and act in the best interest of their direct reports

Data from the surveys encourage bi-annual review conversations between employees and managers based on the data received, performance career goals and how the manager is living the company values.

Shveta Miglani, Head of Talent Enablement at LiveRamp

Following Cindy, Shveta Miglani walked through her flagship training program for new managers, Leading@LiveRamp, with a goal of helping them rise up to the challenge of successfully leading teams at a company that is growing exponentially.

Since bringing the program to life over a year ago, LiveRamp has successfully brought 50% of their managers through this program. It's a 3-day session hosted quarterly, with cohorts consisting of 15 per group. Attendees are flown in from their respective offices so that the cohort has the in-person interactions necessary to build strong relationships that will last beyond their session. The program is executed through experiential learning techniques, and is strongly supported by senior leadership.

Learning centers around three pillars:

  1. Who am I as a leader?
  2. Understanding my team
  3. Understanding my business

After the program completes, LiveRamp hosts a "graduation" party, and encourages continued growth through the following initiatives:

  1. Cohort presents a capstone project 2 weeks after their session to senior leadership.
  2. Graduates are matched to mentors for ongoing coaching via Everwise.
  3. Shveta and team host two feedback lunches to gather feedback from the cohorts, to allow for continued programming improvement.

Tracey Abut, Sr. Director, People Operations at OnDeck

We then welcomed Tracey Abut, who shared details around the new goal-setting process they've rolled out at OnDeck.

Through engagement surveys, OnDeck uncovered the need for a more formalized goal-setting structure to enable managers to more effectively lead conversations with their direct reports. Adopting a version of Salesforce's famed "V2MOM" framework (Values, Vision, Method, Objections, and Measurement), OnDeck enables managers to create department-level goals, and work 1:1 with employees to craft their own individual goals (that support and roll-up into the macro team goal).

Progress to goals is evaluated every 90-days, to make sure that teams are focused and can mark their achievements quickly. So how does OnDeck celebrate those wins, and why is celebration important?

It goes back to the top of the post, where we discussed the importance of leadership-driven employee rewards and employee recognition. With the new program launch and rollout, OnDeck will enable managers to reward employees who exceed these 90-day goals. Tracey believes in rewarding employees in a more meaningful way, with employee rewards that encourage shareability and socialization. She confided in our pre-event interview that she's not a big fan of cash, so their employee rewards will be something that more effectively inspires motivation towards these crucial 90-day goals.

Lastly, Tracey introduced the audience to a program that she's really passionate about, LeadDev. LeadDev is designed to foster relationships between cross-functional managers and encourages them to flex new skill sets. Gaining new skills serves as a means for these employees to more rapidly advance in their roles at OnDeck, and gain a more well-rounded view of the business.

Here's how LeadDev runs today:

  1. Manager leaders from cross-functional teams are paired monthly to tackle a research a topic they’re passionate about.
  2. They work collaboratively for one month, culminating in a presentation to executive leadership.
  3. LeadDev is a “workshops on your feet” model. Must include tactical next steps and solutions that can be adopted by the company.

Adrienn Hopkins, Head of People Ops at Prezi

And last but not least, Adrienn Hopkins brought us home with best practices for how to create a culture of continuous feedback, and link feedback learnings to career development progress for growing employees.

Prezi has recently adopted the continues feedback model, abandoning the traditional 2x year performance review model. Why? Because everybody has a different growth path and speed to their next milestone at the company, and the forced feedback sessions 2x a year didn't align with these individual timelines.

Their new cycle focuses on an annual review in January, but at any point throughout the year employees are encouraged to seek feedback across their peers, managers and cross-functional teams. And what happens when an employee shows signs of growth, and potential to move on to the next stage of their career?

That's where Prezi's competency frameworks come in. These center around individual goal-setting and career conversations - “what does it take to get to next level?” The competency frameworks establish clear expectations for each department on each level. In lieu of promoting employees based on tenure, they now focus on a mutually-agreed upon set of skills and behaviors that the employee needs to embody before promotion.

Once the “what and how” (skills and behaviors) are defined, it's time to start measuring the "how" - through ongoing projects via OKRs and goal setting exercises. Employees are encouraged to concept a project that helps them learn the skills necessary to advance, often working with cross-functional teams. After the project completes, and as part of the continuous feedback process, employees check-in on progress in 1-1s and can seek feedback anytime from the teams they're supporting through their projects.

This new performance review helps managers have black and white conversations with their direct reports, helping them to be more effective, and maintain strong relationships. Promotions no longer feel emotional or political, but are tied to clear expectations for progression in the role, with feedback from multiple parties tracking their progress.

How are you growing your managers at scale? Share your tips in the comments below, we'd love to hear from you!

See you online!


Thanks! We've added you to our community.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form
Recognition inspirations on the Blog
Refer Blueboard, earn rewards!