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Atlassian to tie staff bonuses to ‘no bulls**t’ approach to job

Atlassian San Francisco office. Source: Atlassian
Atlassian San Francisco office. Source: Atlassian

Australian tech giant Atlassian has introduced a new performance review system which will see employee bonuses directly tied to how they express company values.

These values include “Open company, no bulls**t”, “Build with heart and balance”, and “Don’t f**k the customer”.

The goal is to build a performance review system fit for the modern workforce, and which rewards workers not just for high performance, but for exhibiting the behaviours that fuel high performance, Atlassian head of global talent Bek Chee told Yahoo Finance.

It’s about eliminating the “brilliant jerk”, she said. Someone can be excelling in the office, but not delivering any value or lifting up colleagues and their team.

Atlassian hopes the new system will help workers live their company values in a more holistic way.

How does it work?

Peer feedback and manager observations will feed the review, with workers observed on how they approach challenges and setbacks at work.

For example, under the “Open company no bulls**t” metric, workers are examined on whether they intentionally withhold information or complain behind the scenes without addressing it head on. And under that same metric, workers are considered to be “doing the right thing” if they communicate transparently and take accountability for their own mistakes.

Workers will also be measured on how they look after themselves, with workers’ ability to “find the point of diminishing returns” and not “chase perfection” valued over workers working with urgency to the point of burn-out.

And as for the “Don’t f**k the customer” metric,” the company values workers’ decisions to anticipate customer needs and listen to feedback more than decisions displaying a “what’s in it for me” mentality.

“Within values, we see this as a very binary thing,” Chee said. “You're either living the values… the majority of the time and other people can observe the behaviors, or not.

“We don't think it's a high proportion of our organisation, but it's certainly something we want to be accounted for.”

Atlassian Sydney office. Source: Atlassian
Atlassian Sydney office. Source: Atlassian

The value-based review will make up two-thirds of workers’ overall performance reviews, and after a year of testing and tweaking, bonuses will now be tied to how well workers exhibit the positive behaviours.

But if you were exhibiting those “brilliant jerk” characteristics, you’ll receive specific feedback on how to improve, Chee added.

“What this enables you to do as a manager, is if you rated someone low on any one of those three categories, you would be able to go back to that person and say, ‘Hey, you actually are an incredible team member and teammate, and you are really living the values in a way that we really honor. But you just haven't quite been able to nail it within your current role.’

“That conversation can lead to a much more specific coaching conversation for that person, than if I just said to you, ‘Hey, you had an off year.’”

It allows managers to be more targeted in how they coach, she said.

“The goal is never to single people out, or to make anyone feel like they're forever banished because they got a specific rating.”

Earlier this year, Atlassian launched a massive remote work plan after finding 95 per cent of staff would be willing to change practices to work remotely.

Under the new plan, teams and individuals are assessed to see who is best-suited to working remotely and in which capacity - part-time, flexible or full-time.

But again, decisions to implement remote work practices come down to both the worker’s health and their team’s wellbeing.

“If you’re gonna move someone to a remote situation or have them be working remote, it doesn’t just affect that person. You really have to make sure the whole team is able to adapt to that,” Chee said at the time.

“We’re all about teams and we’re certainly not going to compromise the quality and health of the team.”

Outside of the workplace, Atlassian is also kicking major goals, bypassing Telstra in worth last week.

In the time since December 2015, Atlassian shares have skyrocketed 450 per cent to US$140.60 - meaning it now has a market value of AU$49 billion, surpassing Telstra’s AU$46 billion.

Founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar’s net worth reached more than $10 billion each in March this year after the stock hit a new high.

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