Building a development culture where people thrive


“We want to build an environment where people can thrive, developing the skills & mindset to set them up for life.“

Meet Rob, Director at Quick Release, and Emma, HR Strategy & Talent Manager.

As we develop and build GroHappy, we’re fortunate enough to meet and work with many fascinating organisations that are pioneers in people growth. We wanted to share a story of one of those companies we’ve been working with and some of the learnings.

Quick Release are one of these fascinating companies – a fast growing group of product data professionals. QR help automotive businesses get their products to market faster. The ‘4 QRs’ (company values) sit at the heart of everything they do and rumour has it these 4 QRs have manifested themselves as tattoos in some cases…

They are fast-growing, ambitious and with an energy that’s exciting to be around. We started working with QR after we met Rob Ferrone and Emma Lloyd. We share a passion for building great development cultures and a recognition that many traditional HR practices weren’t fit for a company that wants to help their people be the best they can be in a fast moving world.

This is part 1 of that story and we’ll be keeping you up to date as QR go on their journey.

The vision.

When we first met Rob he was frustrated. The existing processes around performance and development were flawed. They’d become cumbersome and time-consuming. While supporting reward & promotion decisions, the processes weren’t serving the primary aim – to develop and add value to QR’s people. Rob and Emma wanted to do things differently, but weren’t sure where to start.

Like us, Rob & Emma have followed with interest the increasing number of companies that have dropped heavy performance management processes in favour of more regular conversations. An attempt to swing the pendulum from backward looking performance management to forward looking development.

QR have a big ambition and innovative ideas for building this environment and an appetite and urgency to take action.

Where to start.

It’s fair to say that whilst the pain points associated with traditional performance management cycles, scoring and 9-box models is well-researched and widely agreed, the jury is still out on all the various alternatives. However, one thing is consistent – a move away from two conversations per year to more regular and informal development and feedback ‘check-ins’.

An incremental approach was required at QR to avoid the vacuum that could be left by suddenly removing all familiar ways of working. This isn’t ripping it all up and starting again, but instead addressing priorities and learning as they go. This is cultural change journey too, that won’t happen by just swapping one approach or tool for another.

QR ran mini-sprints in workshops, live experiments, surveys and interviews. The experiments included getting pairs of brave managers and team members to run through conversation formats with us listening in. This enabled the tweaking and tightening of screws following feedback.


A better understanding of the pain points, immediate business priorities and potential solutions led us to the first 3 incremental changes.

  1. A simple goal setting and conversation tool that empowers managers to be better coaches while encouraging team members to self-reflect and own the conversation. It also encourages greater transparency and expectation setting on what ‘great looks like’ for each person.
  2. Removal of global performance moderation in favour of more local manager discussions where geographic and project uniqueness can be recognised.
  3. Encouraging leadership to themselves use ‘2s’ against goals to identify areas where they need support, help or development

Included in the conversation guide was a shout out to Reid Hoffman’s Alliance – starting the conversation by exploring the win-win scenario for both the manager and team member. I.e How can we build a great business while helping you build a great career. Initial feedback was that it allowed people to ‘dream bigger’ and think longer term.

Watch this space as we share the next stage of QR’s journey:

  • Learnings from a shift towards more regular development conversations
  • Decisions on the strategic ambitions and roadmap

Until next time…

Written by Jim Stichbury, co-founder at GroHappy

Image sources:

Portraits: Quick Release

Workshop: GroHappy

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