Let the Employees do the Rewarding

In a hierarchy, the lion’s share of recognition and recompense goes to those who hold the biggest titles. The real heroes are left unsung.

Linden Lab’s Remedy: The community—not some select group of corporate overlords—does the rewarding. …It does this through a software tool, called the Rewarder.

Each quarter, every associate is given an equal share of a portion of Linden’s net proft—recently, about one thousand dollars per person. The money comes with one stipulation: you cannot keep it for yourself.

Instead, you must click on the Rewarder and use it to redistribute your share to those whom you believe did the most to help the company over the previous three months. You can send the total to one overachiever or divide it among several. It’s your call.

The Rewarder’s two-year history shows that, by and large, it does a superior job of fairly recognizing performance. No doubt, a few may abuse the system and patronize their friends. But most people tend to do the right thing, because the Rewarder empowers them to steer the company in the right direction.

The Rewarder also tallies each person’s bonus allocation.

When Linden’s senior management looks at the top ten recipients in any given quarter, roughly half the winners are unsurprising—they’re Linden’s consistently best performers, and they are known to all. Sprinkled among them, however, are people whom Linden’s leaders might think are unremarkable, but according to the community, are exceptional.

The Rewarder puts the spotlight on those innovative, driven souls who deliver the goods but aren’t particularly adept at advertising their accomplishments. They are publicly acclaimed and their peers boost their compensation, which gives Linden a better chance of holding onto them—and a better shot at keeping the community healthy.

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