How Bolt used Leapsome to scale their reviews processes, empower managers, and drive operational efficiency

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Company Size:
Features Used:
  • Reviews
  • Competency Framework
  • Meetings


“We don’t see Leapsome as just a tool for the People team… but rather a tool to empower the managers at Bolt.”

Andy Turnbull
Head of People Tech

The Challenge

In March 2022, Bolt was right amid a rapid scaleup period. In a relatively short time, the team had grown from 1,000 to just over 4,000 employees and expanded globally across 45 countries, supporting millions of customers. As a result, Andy Turnbull’s team faced an increasingly complex environment in managing Bolt’s people processes.

Rapid scaling and diverse operational needs

As the global operational teams expanded, the HQ teams generally scaled slower, meaning the organization quickly outgrew all previous HR structures.  

The People team also faced increasing operational and managerial diversity. This rapid scaling led to what could be described as “technical and people and workplace debt,” with various regions operating almost as standalone entities under different verticals such as ride-hailing, delivery, and micro-mobility. This diversity posed a challenge to the team, who wanted to ensure standardized operations and maintain a unified approach across the company. Andy highlighted the extent of this challenge:

“We had to rely on giving a lot of autonomy to different verticals within our business... But when it comes to teams like mine, where we’re trying to keep some element of standardization and compare apples to apples across the business, it makes things very difficult.”

— Andy Turnbull, Head of People Tech at Bolt

Inconsistencies in managerial practices

With the HQ based in Estonia and operations spreading across the Baltics, Eastern Europe, Africa and then globally, it was essential to give autonomy to country managers in different verticals to operate the way that worked for their specific region.

However, the downside was that managerial practices varied widely, often dependent on individual managers’ preferences and past experiences. Some managers from big tech backgrounds had implemented sophisticated reviews and people processes in their teams. Others had much simpler review processes using tools like Google Sheets. This meant a lot of variation between different employee experiences at Bolt.

“We had some managers who had very mature processes... and others that didn’t. So, the tooling wasn’t super important. In some cases, reviews weren’t a priority and weren’t happening.”

Andy emphasized the need for a platform to support standardized operations and ensure a high-quality experience for all employees, regardless of location.

“We were looking to build a base of technology and operations that we could use to bring everything together... And I think a big part of that, thinking specifically about talent, was a quality of experience globally.”

The need for a unified people management platform

With the expansion and operational diversity, there was a clear need for a centralized platform that could combine various processes and allow for a standardized HR and talent management approach. For example, it was challenging to drive career development initiatives because, with differing review processes, it took a lot of work to evaluate performance uniformly.

“If you have different parts of your organization that value different things and quantify performance differently, it is difficult to standardize any global programs you might be running. So you can’t do things like identify and retain high performers.”

Choosing Leapsome

A few key deciding factors convinced the team to move ahead with Leapsome.

1. Operational efficiency: Bolt wanted an entrepreneurial partner who could swiftly make updates or operational changes when required.

2. Cultural and operational alignment: Leapsome was chosen for its similarity to Bolt regarding culture and agility.

3. Direct access and collaboration: A decisive factor for Bolt was the direct communication with Leapsome’s product team, which promised tailored service and swift adaptations — contrasting with the less personalized service expected from larger, more bureaucratic providers.

Andy captured the feeling at the time, “In the end, we saw Leapsome as a partner that was very similar to us in terms of working and being a European tech startup... Having a route straight to the product team within Leapsome was also really important to us.”

A new era of performance reviews

As the team worked together to implement and set up Leapsome, the first major to-do item was overhauling Bolt’s performance review process. The approach to integrating Leapsome was methodical and interactive, as they wanted to ensure feedback and testing at every stage of the process.

Strategic rollout and iterative improvement

Initially, the team rolled out Leapsome Reviews in a contained group of product and engineering teams. These employees were mostly senior professionals with either corporate or big tech backgrounds, providing a robust testing ground for improving the new tooling. The pilot enabled them to gather substantial insights and fine-tune the system before rolling it out company-wide. After one successful review cycle with that team, Bolt used this experience as a basis and a springboard to launch the first annual performance review for the entire organization.

Since then, Bolt has run two full review cycles across the organization: a 360° mid-year review, which takes part in the middle of the year, and an annual performance review at the end of the year. The team continues to see the reviews as iterative: “We’re not going to be building something which is then static for the next 50 years… We run deep-dive retros and ask for user feedback to understand how managers and employees use it. Then we’re iterating heavily each time.”

Empowering managers to drive operational efficiency

At Bolt, manager empowerment is not just a ‘nice to have’ but a critical strategy to ensure success with a large and rapidly scaling team spread across the globe. Leapsome has been instrumental in this regard, allowing the team to shift significant control and responsibility from the centralized people team to managers, enabling them to conduct various HR processes almost entirely independently.

This autonomy is evident in the 360° reviews process, where managers can initiate and manage feedback cycles with minimal intervention from the central People team. As Andy puts it, “​​We’d have to be a much larger team if we wanted to take 30 or 40% of management responsibilities away from managers and just manage that centrally.”

This approach not only fosters a sense of ownership among managers but also streamlines HR processes, making them more adaptable to the dynamic environment at Bolt.

“We want to empower managers and give them the skills to run reviews and other processes, rather than relying on the People team to handhold them through.”

Further, by enabling managers to operate autonomously, Bolt has achieved significant operational efficiencies, allowing the company to grow without proportionally increasing its headquarters’ overhead costs. This self-service model simplifies administrative processes and helps keep the company agile — a critical factor for a tech company operating in a competitive and fast-evolving market.

The system designed by Leapsome ensures that the People team at Bolt remains lean and mostly intervention-free unless issues arise, reflecting a highly efficient operational philosophy. Andy explains the broader impact of this approach: “So in a platform business like us, we want our business to grow quicker than our HQ costs. And if we can stay static, build efficiencies, and be smart about how we spend money, and our business still grows, this is the path to profitability.”

💪 Performance reviews can be rewarding when done right

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Tying performance to career development

Now that a successful review process is in place, Bolt’s next step is tying performance to career development, a crucial part of their strategy to systematize talent management across their global operations. Although they are still in the nascent stages of this process, the goal is to develop a robust internal job catalog for better decision-making and talent development, providing a structured approach to recognizing and nurturing skills within the organization and ensuring people are compensated fairly for their work.

Enabling managers with better meetings

Bolt has harnessed the capabilities of Leapsome’s Meetings module to improve the way managers engage with their teams. For many of Bolt’s managers, this is their first time stepping into a leadership role. Tasked with ambitious business objectives, many managers reported being unable to keep up with other essential management practices like regular one-on-ones. However, with Meetings, Bolt has provided these managers a structured framework to ensure consistent and productive interactions with their team members.

This tool has proved instrumental in maintaining regular communication, allowing for centralized goal tracking, performance discussions, and ongoing project updates. Andy described the impact, saying, “I think what something like the Meetings module does is it provides that accountability... It encourages managers to keep that commitment to speak to team members regularly and keep all their information in one place.”

What’s next for Bolt & Leapsome

The team is focused on fine-tuning their review processes in the upcoming year and more deeply integrating performance management into the broader operational strategy. Firstly, it will enhance the linkage between performance reviews and compensation decisions.

Looking further ahead, Bolt plans to expand Leapsome to support internal staffing transactions such as promotions and role changes, providing managers with actionable data to make informed decisions. This effort will enhance visibility across the organization, allowing for more strategic workforce planning and better identification of high-potential employees. The aim is to optimize the talent pool by aligning skills and competencies with organizational needs, thereby supporting the company’s growth and innovation goals.

Through these initiatives, Bolt is not just reacting to current needs but proactively shaping an organizational culture that is agile, informed, and forward-thinking.

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