10 Principles in Culture Gamification: The RewardMe DNA

Culture Management is essential for growth stage companies

Our company has been through many cycles and products throughout the years, but it’s the passion and bond between teammates that have always carried on with us. That will continue to carry on no matter what size we grow to. We are a team, and we are a family.

This places an enormous emphasis on having the right Culture. Culture is something intangible but very impactful. It affects team morale, productivity, conflict resolution, decision-making, and hiring — basically everything that moves the company forward in the right direction. It is something that needs to be nurtured and maintained, as it could easily be diluted as the company grows.

Therefore, I spent a lot of time researching about companies that boast their cultures as a competitive edge, including Apple, Zappos, Netflix, Yammer and more (yes, I’m not pretending I came up with all this stuff. The giants get the credit and I get the shoulders). I also made a list on what most of my friends love about their jobs, and what they hate about their jobs to figure out how can we create a system that automatically generates the former and eliminates the latter.

It seemed striking to me that, everyone complains about their managers, but when these complainers become managers themselves, nothing has changed, as people below them still complain about their managers. Clearly the “bad manager” syndrome is not based on an individual’s capability, but an overall system flaw.

Culture is the system that either creates the right environment where everyone can easily be good managers, or where bad managers are kicked out, so good people do not lose motivation.

A culture based on Gamification

There’s a certain DNA within the RewardMe Team Members that keeps us all bonded together. We call it a DNA because it isn’t just rules that look nice, but it should be something that is ingrained deep inside every member, which is reflected upon daily conduct.

These are not just fancy statements we put on walls and badges, but all team member are evaluated (and rewarded) based on how well they have this ingrained into them. Hiring and firing should not only be based on performance output, but also environment output.

1) Put positive energy into the company

Bad attitude in the company is UNACCEPTABLE. Your responsibility in the company is not only to perform, but to make everyone around you better in every way you can. Don’t be the “Game over man!” guy you see in movies. Be that person who is always thinking positively and encouraging others. Always inspire hope and ideas to new solutions.

2) In whatever you do, be exceptional and over-impressive

Our competitors are filled with good people. That’s why we all need to be excellent. We believe the best people are 10x compared to the average, and we should always strive to be that 10x. You need to care intensively about outperforming expectations and getting more wins together as a team.

You need to maintain calm poise in stressful situations and be a strong pillar, especially when it takes many pillars to hold up a roof. We don’t care about being over-impressed with your hours. We want you to create WOW moments for the rest of the team. Do whatever it takes to achieve that.

3) Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

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The 3 Elements of Perfect Leadership

 

Having started many clubs, organizations, and companies, I have my fair share of being a leader and getting leadership scars. I’ve also often been the leader while being the youngest person in the group. It wasn’t always like that. When I was a younger, I was the kid who everyone makes fun of while I worked my butt off trying to fit in my environment.

The process had to start all over again whenever I moved, as South Africa, Taiwan, Kansas, and California all had very different cultures. The turning point was when I started a chess club in high school, and during my sophomore year, I was elected President. With a new sense of responsibility, I realized that the whole organizations success rested on my shoulders.

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Hiring: Only hire those you don’t mind working under


A lot of organizations and companies I have seen hire people to fulfill a certain role (sometimes grunt work), and when the company grows, these people get promoted, and they become managers. However, they might be bad managers and it completely ruins the culture of the company. Therefore, Future Delivery is applying an interesting hiring philosophy:

Only hire those who you feel comfortable working under.

This way we will make sure that, as the company grows, we will still be able to attract and hire people like ourselves, thus preserving the culture. Afterall, a huge amount of whether one likes her job or not, is the people she works with.

The other philosophy regarding firing is a lot more common in theory but a lot harder to execute:

If the company becomes very successful, and this person leaves the company and wants to come back, would you rehire him? If not, fire him now.

This philosophy is good in the sense that, the only mistake bigger than hiring the wrong person is keeping the wrong person on board for too long. However, team morale is an incredibly important issue, and if you suddenly get rid of people with less-than-justified reasons, morale will be low and productivity will decrease. The only time this works out is if the person was dragging down the team, and everyone would cheer if he is gone. After all, having a person not pull his weight without consequences would only discourage those who do pull their weights. So our concluding philosophy on this issue is:

Fire those who wouldn’t be rehired by anyone else in the company when the company becomes successful.

That is the FD way of human capital.