Karma – our philosophy behind team culture and performance

August 1, 2021

A key reason why organizations fail at retaining and growing effective teams is their inability to calibrate, motivate, and create a culture of growth. The resulting dissatisfaction then leads to a decrease in productivity and even attrition. Often times, performance management systems have been designed to use goal setting and evaluation as a means to optimize the performance of an employee.

There are many reasons why these systems fail, including a lack of visibility into key knowledge gaps of your workforce, an inability to cultivate an employee’s growth, and ineffective evaluation methodologies. In my past six years of working with open source communities, I’ve observed a synergy and coming together of people across geographic boundaries around an ephemeral common cause—open source collaboration.

This body of OSS developers has created a palpable unique culture, many times unpaid, working at odd hours, contributing to each other’s code, responding to someone’s request for review, unasked-for testing of a third-party module and strongly voicing opinions on the right way to do things. Each member of such a community develops a following and reputation over time. Being steeped in this environment for several years brought me focus to the concept of Karma.

Karma at Gigster; What is It?

Gigster’s key pillars are the team, the culture, and the high quality of our delivery. We are constantly iterating and honing our practices of creating the same culture that exists in long bonded teams that have worked together for years. This means experimenting, learning, assimilating, going back to the drawing board—and experimenting again. And again. In 2020, one of our main initiatives is centered around continuous calibration, assessment, and Karma.

So, what is Karma anyways? Karma is classically defined as the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate/future existence (reference: Oxford Dictionary). Translating that to Gigster Karma, we view a person’s assessment to have a shelf life far beyond the point system that exists only in your place of employment. At Gigster, we are building a system with the intention that your Karma follows you beyond one workplace and one gig.

Continuous Calibration

While the goal of any assessment system is to recruit, retain, and build high-quality teams, it is also to develop a strong culture that is self-motivating and based on company values. Gigster’s Karma will not only reflect your work as an individual, but also assess your contributions as a member of a productive team and calibrate your impact as an influencer in our Talent Network. At the core of the Gigster platform are three continuous calibration cycles: individual, team and project calibration.

Individual Karma

It is earned by one’s contributions to a piece of work, evaluated by a jury of one’s peers, alongside quantitative measures.. Some examples of this are your scores around quality of your delivery, responsiveness, reliability, ability to estimate, and problem-solving skills, as well as standard Scrum and code quality metrics.

Team Synergy and Project Volatility

Earned by successfully completing and delivering a project, evaluated by the project stakeholders. Team Synergy measures the overall productivity of a team and produces a synergy score. An example is CSAT, a customer satisfaction score. Another important one is the ability of a specific team to onboard new players. The third calibration cycle also measures project risk and produces a volatility score, much like the stock market Volatility Index, which measures the delivery risk of projects.

Network Karma

An evolving concept in our labs, something akin to what we see in our OSS communities. It is an ephemeral quality created by a self-driven, self-motivated, and a loosely bonded body of people aligned around a common goal or methodology. While Individual and Team Karma are derived from subjective measures, 360 evaluations, and peer-to-peer scoring mechanisms, Network Karma grows by concrete and objective metrics.

This is gathered from actual quantified work done such as code commits, number of peer reviews, severity bug fixes, velocity, burn up and burn down measures, and your contribution to your peers, including responses, comments, and upvotes. In the end, the culture of an organization is simply the sum total of what people in the organization actually do organically, especially when faced with tough choices (reference: “What You Do Is Who You Are,” Ben Horowitz, September 26, 2019.)

Organizations characterize their culture in terms of values they want expressed through actions. These cultural values get defined upfront and are tailored to each organization. Defining these values gives us a way of making culture more concrete and quantifiable. In 2020, we kicked off Gigster Karma, codifying our philosophy behind team culture and performance, capturing both quantitative measures and even qualitative measures like passion and compassion. Join the conversation! Drop us a note and become part of our growing culture at Gigster.

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