Zynga Awardville

Joining Zynga in 2009 was, well, interesting. I originally came from NetApp which operated at time scales that now seem geological if not cosmological. NetApp did things in the traditional way. Everything was so unbelievably different at Zynga.

One of most bizarre things, to my untrained eye, was our all hands. Basically we did quarterly reviews, and we had these awards that were not cash. I mean, seriously, who wants an award that isn’t cash?

And it wasn’t like we did awards in secret and hidden from view but Mark would call you on stage and personally hand you this statue.

It was, so, not NetApp.

And so in this paper http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2013/03/29/can-your-boss-do-this-zynga-delights-in-madcap-bonus-plan/

Colleen shares what she told me when I complained.

All the same, McCreary says she and Pincus think Zynga is on the right track with awards that involve highly public recognition, combined with personalized gifts that have meaningful economic value. Cash alone tends to have a more fleeting impact, McCreary says. If there’s no official discussion of who gets awards, employees don’t get as clear a signal about what conduct and performance wins rewards.  By contrast, Zynga’s winners not only get trophies and applause from their peers — they also are lauded on an internal webpage called … what else? … AwardsVille.

And when she made that pitch back in the day, I didn’t believe her.

Except after my trip to Hawaii, courtesy of an Atlas award.

I actually remember that award more than any other bit of recognition, financial or otherwise, at Zynga.

So there is method to our madness.

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