High Performance Culture & Teammate Development at Sourcegraph
The purpose of this Handbook Page is to provide Managers and Teammates with the resources needed to drive a high performing culture at Sourcegraph. We believe that our team thrives when we have a high bar for excellence, and when all Teammates receive feedback early and often.
What is a high performance culture?
We want a culture where Teammates are highly productive and motivated. Our Teammates should have the resources they need to meet and exceed their goals, feel supported by their Manager, be aligned with our company values, and feel confident in leadership. High-performance cultures benefit both the company and the individual.
Why is a high performance culture important?
At Sourcegraph, we want to give Managers and Teammates resources to build a high-performing team. Members of high-performing teams share a mutual purpose, are goal-oriented and are hyper-focused on achieving clear, outstanding results. Being surrounded by high-performers makes all of us better.
We hold our Managers accountable to foster high-performing teams by giving clear feedback early and often, and providing explicit direction on what is expected of Teammates in their role.
Similarly, we expect our Teammates to give direct feedback to their Manager and peers. At Sourcegraph, giving and receiving direct, transparent feedback is core to our values and we expect both Managers and individual contributors to follow through on this commitment.
How we foster a high performance culture
We are a culture of continuous performance management, and we expect performance to be measured and discussed directly and continuously. Put simply, when Managers prioritize collaborative, transparent, and supportive performance management practices, our Teammates are more engaged and ultimately more successful.
We expect Managers to foster a high-performance culture and provide performance feedback in the following ways:
- Formal performance reviews
- Ongoing feedback
1. Formal performance reviews
At Sourcegraph, we have a formal performance review process that takes place twice a year.
- Review 1: launches February (ends April 1)
- Review 2: launches August (ends Oct 1)
The purpose of our semi-annual reviews, which take place via Lattice, is to gather formal feedback from the Teammate, their Manager, and their Peers. Our semi-annual review process is broken into two parts:
- A 360-review, which helps give Teammates insight into how they’re performing, and eliminates “gut feel” and unconscious bias from impacting compensation or promotion decisions. (A 360-review should not serve as a replacement for giving and getting ongoing, continuous feedback. Any underperformance feedback should be covered during 1:1s and should never come as a surprise to the Teammate).
- A calibration process immediately following the 360-review cycle, during which People Partners meet with Managers to ensure we hold a high and consistent bar across Managers, teams, and departments.
Reviews coincide with our semi-annual promotion and compensation review cycles.
2. Continuous feedback
We expect our Managers to provide ongoing, continuous feedback in the following ways:
- Direct communication & immediate feedback / coaching
- Regular 1:1s
- Quarterly career development conversations
Direct communication & immediate feedback / coaching
Our expectations for Managers:
- Be direct: we expect Managers to champion a culture of ongoing feedback - meaning direct, in-the-moment, immediate feedback and coaching… both positive everyday praise, as well as feedback on opportunities for growth in the near and long-term.
- Be timely: when something goes wrong or performance is not meeting expectations, we expect our Managers to provide feedback early and often. If something occurs that warrants feedback, a conversation should take place immediately, and, where possible, should not be delayed until the next 1:1. If feedback is delivered verbally, it’s highly recommended that Managers follow up in writing, post-conversation, to ensure that the Teammate has a clear understanding of expectations.
- Set clear goals: Managers are expected to communicate goals and expectations clearly to Teammates. Teammates should know how they’re performing at all times against their goals, and should know how they’re performing against the expectations of their role and level.
- Understand career goals: when Managers understand a Teammate’s career & development goals, they can help better coach them to get where they want to go.
- Be a coach: Managers are encouraged to view their primary role as coaching Teammates to consistently improve their performance over time.
Expectations during 1:1:
- In addition to immediate feedback, we expect Managers to have regular 1:1s with everyone on their team.
- 1:1s are a great tool to facilitate ongoing direct communication, engagement, and trust-building between Managers and their direct reports, and should happen weekly or bi-weekly to discuss performance and other important topics frequently.
- We expect Teammates to ask for critical feedback and whether they are meeting or exceeding expectations during every 1:1. There should never be any question with respect to how a Teammate is performing, and whether or not they are meeting expectations.
Topics to cover during 1:1:
- Personal check-in. Everyone at Sourcegraph cares about Teammates’ well-being in and out of work.
- Status update on key projects.
- Direct feedback on performance. Managers should share performance feedback during every single 1:1.
- If giving negative feedback, Managers are expected to provide specific examples and follow the SBI (situation, behavior, impact) model.
- Managers should solicit direct feedback from Teammates (“What should I start / stop / continue?”, “How happy are you?,” Iis there anything I can do to better support you?,” etc).
- Discussion about career progression. Managers should discuss a Teammate’s career advancement at least quarterly.
- Career frameworks
Read more about how to lead an effective 1:1 at Sourcegraph.
Quarterly career-development conversations
Managers should designate at least one conversation per quarter that includes intentional focus time to discuss career growth. Creating intentional time for forward-looking conversations helps Teammates explore their careers on their own terms, and engage with their Manager in identifying opportunities to grow, learn, and be curious within our own organization.
Learn more about how to lead effective career conversations at Sourcegraph.
We want all Teammates to succeed at Sourcegraph and will provide them with every opportunity to do so. There are, however, instances when a Teammate is underperforming. In these instances, it is the Manager’s responsibility to manage low performance in a timely manner and provide clear feedback to the Teammate (with the support of the People Team).
Below is additional information to help Managers and Teammates navigate performance issues.
Best Practices for Managers:
- Have difficult conversations early to avoid lag in addressing performance concerns.
- Avoid favoritism (for example, assigning a certain Teammate more favorable tasks, giving them special attention/coaching, or sharing work-related information with only certain employees).
- Ask yourself - would you hire this person again?
- Hold yourself and the team member accountable to achieving set goals.
- Anchor expectations to objective performance requirements based on established career frameworks.
- Career frameworks across all roles at Sourcegraph are in development. If no career framework is in place for the role, align on expectations with your Manager.
Step 1: If you believe you have a Teammate who is underperforming on your team, begin by contacting your People Partner, who will work with and coach you through managing Teammate underperformance.
Once you contact your People Partner, they will guide you through next steps. Every circumstance is different and depending on the nature / seriousness of the performance issues, the recommended performance management process may differ. In some cases, it may be appropriate to follow all of the Stages of the below process in order, and in other cases it may be appropriate to skip to a later stage or to handle the performance issue outside of the PIP process altogether.
Managers are required to work with their People Partner to determine the appropriate performance management process for a particular teammate. The standard process to manage underperformance is as follows:
Step 2: Formal coaching (pre-PIP):
If you have an underperforming Teammate, the next step to get them back on track is formal coaching. Formal coaching involves regular, structured coaching and regular documentation following each conversation. Teammates struggling to meet the expectations of their role should be told clearly what those expectations are, and what success looks like, based on objective and measurable criteria.
- Contact your People Partner: The first step of a formal coaching phase is to contact your People Parter and alert them about the performance issue. Together, you will develop a thoughful coaching plan, and they will guide you on how to deliver clear, actionable feedback based on objective and measurable criteria.
- Have a coaching conversation: Once you have alerted your People Partner to the performance issue, they will assist you in conducting a coaching conversation. Guide on how to deliver clear, actionable feedback
- Regular documentation during 1:1s: once the coaching conversation is complete, you will used regular 1:1s to clearly document expectations, where the teammate is meeting those expectations, and where opportunities to improve still exist.
- Ongoing coaching: coaching is an ongoing process, and helping Teammates meet expectations takes time and intention. Employees should be engaged in formal coaching for on average 2-4 weeks1 before moving to a PIP.
- Required: Managers are required to have weekly meetings with the Teammate during the coaching phase, and to keep a 1:1 doc with clear documentation of feedback, coaching, and weekly expectations.
Stage 3: Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)
If you have an underperforming Teammate and their performance has not improved with formal coaching or circumstances warrant skipping formal coaching, the next step is to move to a formal Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). The goal of a PIP should always be to provide Teammates with a fair opportunity to understand performance expectations and have a real opportunity to be successful.
- Contact your People Partner: If formal coaching has not resolved performance issues, your People Partner will guide you on the PIP process
- Draft your PIP email: Share the draft email using the PIP email template with your People Partner before having a PIP conversation and/or sending an email. Your People Partner will provide feedback on the PIP email.
- Meet with your People Partner: Once your email is drafted, your People Partner will coach you on how to lead an effective PIP conversation.
- Have the PIP conversation: Schedule and conduct the PIP meeting. Your People Partner must be in attendance.
- Contact your People Partner: Provide an update on how the conversation went after it has taken place.
- Send a follow up email: Once the PIP conversation is complete, you will send your follow up email using the follow-up PIP email template within 24-hours of the conversation. Please always CC email@example.com.
- Ongoing meetings: Have regular (weekly or bi-weekly depending on PIP length) progress meetings or check-ins with the underperforming Teammate for the duration of the PIP.
- Required: Managers are required to keep a 1:1 doc with clear documentation of feedback, coaching, and weekly expectations during the PIP process.
There are two outcomes of a PIP:
- If the Teammate passes a PIP, they will be notified in person and in writing via email of successful completion.
- If the Teammate’s performance does not improve to the necessary level, the Manager will work with their People Partner to part ways amicably.
This can vary depending on the situation, please work with your People Partner. ↩