DEFINING THE VALUES OF SPLASH DAMAGE
What are the core tenets of the studio, and how does it enforce them? Richard Jolly explains...
When you hear the phrase “company values”, it’s easy to roll your eyes. Most of us have heard the faux-motivational term come out of an executive’s mouth and immediately sensed the dishonesty in it. But at Splash Damage it somehow seems to have become grown outwardly from within the developer, rather than forced onto it from the higher-ups.
“We didn’t know what values were when we started, I’ll be honest,” explains Jolly. “And so we went to everyone in the company,
‘well... what are Splash Damage values?
We’ve seen them at other companies, what do we hold dear?’ And so we went through a several month process of calibration and came up with our values.”
There are seven of these core values in total, “We’re intensely loyal, we’re friendly and trusting, we’re self-reliant, we put the team first, we can express a can-do attitude; we pursue mastery.” Now these might seem rather like some corporation false-speak, but they’re not just there for team leaders and HR managers to spout to motivate the team. “We’ve been keen to not just have them be this exercise that has to be done, you write on the wall and people salute them when they come in. We made sure that we brought it into the company from the day to day of the company more than anything else.”
This begins at interview stage, but it trickles through to the way the company operates, too. “Once people come in, we have a built-in probation period, people are assessed at that point. But the other thing we do that you won’t find at any other company is the monthly conversations. We found that the annual appraisal just doesn’t work. We find that doing it this way it just catches any issues quicker, but better. It goes both ways, it’s not just ‘how do you improve as an employee?’, but also how do we improve as a company? We’re quite introspective in that regard. So that follows the six-month process, and then culminates with a peer review where you’re assessed by all of the people that you work on how you live up to these values.”
If that sounds quite an intense, objective way of figuring out a personality and how well any given person might fit within the company, Jolly stresses that “it’s not that you’re judged greatly on that”.
The idea is to find out who the “values champions are”, which is rewarded each month with the Values Award.