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Building and managing high-performing teams: The Atomicwork playbook

At Atomicwork, our formula for a high-performance team is people, culture, and technology, brought together and harmonized through effective leadership.

At Atomicwork, we’ve been intentional about creating a high-performing team right from day one. Every single strategic decision has been directed towards this goal.

We consider a high-performing team to be a cohesive group of individuals who consistently achieve remarkable results, by effectively leveraging the skills and abilities of every team member.

And according to us, the key elements of a high-performing team are People, Culture, and Technology. These three are in turn brought together and harmonized through effective leadership.

Elements of a high-performing team - Leadership, People, Culture, Technology

Let’s explore each of these components in detail and understand how we optimize them at Atomicwork to foster an environment where high-performing teams can thrive.

People

Build trust from the get-go

When starting a company, one of your main focus areas should be assembling a team that shares your passion and vision for building the business.

Some founders prefer to bring in entirely new team members, avoiding anyone they have worked with in the past. In our case, we decided to form a team of familiar faces, which comes with a preset foundation of trust.

By hiring people we've already worked with and who already align with our cultural values, we established a trusted environment right from the beginning.

Harness the power of diversity

Leaders who recognize and celebrate the uniqueness of their team members empower their teams to perform better.

It's important to note that capitalizing on diversity in your organization goes beyond paying attention to race, ethnicity, gender, or age.

It also involves creating space for the innovativeness of team members, understanding their motivations, and helping them pursue their passions. Educating the organization about "micro-inequities" is essential in this process.

Define your philosophy on what is acceptable from a diversity perspective and what's not. Align with your core values and focus on hiring passionate, self-directed individuals. Regularly seek inputs from the team to gauge whether inclusivity and diversity are being considered in all aspects.

Reward people the right way

Motivation can be driven by extrinsic factors like money or praise, but true intrinsic motivation comes from within and is often tied to the joy of accomplishing challenging tasks.

'If, then' rewards, where a specific task is rewarded with something external, may provide a short-term boost in motivation but can dampen it over time.

Instead of relying solely on these external incentives, we need to challenge the assumption that rewards always lead to more desired behavior and punishments reduce it. People are more complex than that.

While money is undoubtedly important, understanding and fulfilling more sophisticated needs, such as a sense of fairness, can be more impactful in motivating employees.

Pay people enough to remove financial stress, and then focus on meaningful work as a driving force.

Establish open and transparent communication with the team regarding compensation policies and constraints. This transparency can help foster trust and understanding among employees.

Our compensation strategy doesn't tie individual goals to bonuses or variable pay. Instead, we align compensation with the team's goals. We believe that true achievement comes when we collaborate as a team toward our objectives.

Regardless of experience level or position, we offer salary + equity to all employees, to demonstrate how we value every team member.

We also go the extra mile to design, build, and offer our employees a comprehensive benefits package, including insurance, healthcare, and wellness, without making any compromises. This commitment to our employees' well-being was further validated when Plum, our insurance and benefits provider, recognized us for offering one of the best employee benefits plans in the country. You can read more about our approach to employee benefits here.

Culture

Foster an everyone and everyday culture

We believe that a strong and thriving culture sets the foundation for success. Our culture code defines our core values, shaping the way we work, grow, and impact the world around us.

Here's a glimpse into our perspective on our ATOMIC culture:

  • Autonomy: We champion individuality and encourage our team members to carve their career paths with passion and humility. They get to decide how they want to do it here.
  • Trust: With an unwavering commitment to transparency, we foster a culture built on trust. We remove unnecessary approval processes, allowing trust to flow seamlessly within the company.
  • Ownership: We nurture an environment where open feedback and coaching enable each individual to take ownership of their decisions and drive successful execution.
  • Mastery: We believe in the power of continuous learning. We embrace the philosophy of 1% better each day, promoting personal and professional growth.
  • Impact: Our employees are driven by a shared goal: to make not only our employees’ lives easier but also to extend that positive impact to society as a whole.
  • Curiosity: Curiosity sparks innovation, and we encourage everyone to explore new horizons, embrace mistakes, learn from them, and cultivate a culture of continuous improvement.

Together, these principles form the bedrock of our vibrant culture.

Design meaningful rituals

Creating a vibrant culture goes beyond having written culture codes; it involves living these values every single day, embraced by each individual within the organization. To facilitate this at Atomicwork, we design thoughtful rituals that serve specific purposes.

  • Weekly Status Updates: Every week, we gather in our 'Standup' channel on Slack to connect, discuss challenges, celebrate progress, and align priorities.
  • Weekly Demos: Regular demo sessions showcase our recent work, share insights, and inspire fresh ideas, keeping us aligned and motivated.
  • Monthly Offsites: Reconnecting and fostering collaboration, our team engages in monthly offsites to share learnings and brainstorm together.
  • Quarterly Knowledge Sharing: Every quarter, we invite external leaders for a knowledge-sharing session. These sessions are great opportunities to learn from industry experts, gain new perspectives, and stimulate innovation within our team.
  • Monthly Releases: Operating on a monthly release cycle, we utilize user feedback to refine and enhance our product, so it meets their evolving needs.
  • Frequent Deployments: Our agile development team deploys updates multiple times a day, to help with quick adaptations and swift issue resolution.

Technology

As a small and nimble team, we embrace technology as our co-pilot, not only to enhance productivity and collaboration but also to free up our employees' time, so they can focus on more meaningful and impactful work.

Our philosophy is that if we want to build an AI-first product, then we need to become power users of AI ourselves across teams, from engineering, to product, marketing, to GTM.

AI is not merely a technology layer for our end users; it is a core element of Atomicwork.

Some of the ways in which we leverage technology to empower our team are,

  • AI-powered tools like ChatGPT have proven incredibly useful for PMs and marketing professionals, handling tasks such as drafting content and responding to user inquiries. This way, our team members are relieved from mundane writing tasks, allowing them to invest their time in creating compelling strategies and refining marketing campaigns that resonate with our audience.
  • Engineers, including our CTO, have embraced GitLab Copilot, which boosts coding efficiency and has improved the team’s productivity by an impressive 5%. With AI assisting in code generation and debugging, our developers can spend less time on manual coding and more time on innovative problem-solving and creating cutting-edge features.
  • The adoption of autonomous agent tools, like AgentGPT, has revolutionized competitive analysis and strategy development for our founders and PMs. Instead of spending hours on data gathering and analysis, they can now make informed decisions swiftly, unlocking more time for refining product vision and aligning with customer needs.
  • By leveraging tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Notion, we streamline communication and collaboration across our globally distributed team. This asynchronous way of working allows employees to manage their time more efficiently, focus on tasks when they are most productive, and create a healthier work-life balance.

Leadership

Leadership acts as the driving force, bringing together and successfully integrating People, Culture, and Technology.

And the main trifecta that guides Atomicwork leadership is Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

At Atomicwork, we firmly believe that individuals perform at their best when given the freedom to act. We believe in empowering smart and kind people, allowing them to do what they do best. We avoid bureaucratic environments and micro-management and, instead, guide our team toward the shared vision by setting specific goals.

We prioritize company goals that cascade down to team goals. And the achievements of the team reflect the accomplishments of the individuals within it.

When individual, team, and company goals are aligned, and when teams have the autonomy and mastery to reach those goals, high performance follows naturally.

We provide our teams with a map, a compass, and a destination, allowing them to find their own path to get there. This way, it not only leads to high performance, but also gives people a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment at the same time.

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