Experiments in people ops are awesome and energizing (in a transparent manner, not a “big brother” kind of way). Some of the most innovative product companies are also incredibly innovative with respect to their internal people ops and incentives.
Google’s 20% time is probably one of the most famous examples of this — solving the problem of people wanting to work on side projects by encouraging it, spawning incredible products such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Adsense.
Stripe’s experiment in hiring teams rather than individuals is fascinating. If the approach worked, they’d be hiring not only smart people, but also team chemistry, which is invaluable.
SpaceX’s approach to offering regular liquidity to keep employees happy while still private is an industry-changing effort.
Facebook frowns on open display of titles. While I think this has both pros and cons, it’s a laudable attempt to prioritize meritocracy of ideas over seniority.
One idea I’ve been contemplating is granting RSUs instead of cash, for earned commission or bonuses. I think it would be a great way of incentivizing long-term thinking. But hey, we won’t know if it works (and what legal nuances need to be worked out) until someone tries it.
Another one I’ve seen done well (and I think every startup should consider) is offering salary / equity tradeoffs. It’s a really great opportunity to allow someone to align more deeply with the company, particularly in the early- or mid-stages.
Most of all, if employees come to you with challenges or problems, don’t throw policy back at them. Try to figure out creative solutions to people problems, and encourage them to brainstorm creative, positive-sum solutions. It satisfies the human need to shape the world around you, democratizes the building of culture, and engineers win/win situations. Be creative with your culture!
Well… … maybe not this creative.
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