Josh Wickham
Feb 22, 2018 · 4 min read

One of our core tenets at Life360 is “Be a Good Person”. This may sound like something basic, something all companies take for granted, but to make this one of the five core values for our employees puts it front and center. We have put a lot of thought into our core values, they are part of our review process, and we have daily reinforcement for them in one way or another. Today, we’re going to dive into one of those daily reinforcements.

So how does one Be a Good Person? Well, to paraphrase a certain Chief Justice of the United States, you know it when you see it. In a team which covers many different types of roles which sometimes has emergencies or high-stress periods, there is no shortage of opportunity to Be a Good Person. This may be something directly work-related such as doing a PR for another dev when you see the original reviewer was too busy, bringing in a guest speaker to provide more insight into Life360 families, or taking the time to mentor someone else. It could also be something which isn’t exactly work related such as helping design the plumbing for the new espresso machine, buying and passing out Valentine’s cards and candy for everyone, or setting up an appreciation day for someone else who has consistently Been a Good Person.

A couple years ago, we decided that we wanted to let anyone recognize someone else’s Being a Good Person and came up with the idea of “High Fives”. We’re almost certainly not the first company to use this idea, but it’s the first time most of us at Life360 have seen it implemented at a company. The idea is simple: if you see someone Being a Good Person (or setting a great example of any of our other four core tenets), you give them a High Five. This used to be a physical custom-printed card with “To”, “From”, “Date”, and “Reason” filled in by the giver. Having been the recipient of these, I can attest that it feels great to be recognized in this way, as cheesy as it sounds. Once a month at our team meeting, we would turn these in and have a drawing where one would be read for everyone in the company to hear.

We had prizes attached to them also. The recipient of the drawn High Five would then get to draw a prize from a hat; the prizes ranged in value from a GoPro (entry-level, $100 model) to a $3000 grand prize. There would also be a secondary monetary prize: for every 5 you turned in, you’d get a $25 gift card. At that time, we each only got 5 cards to pass out per month; makes you pretty stingy with your High Fiving for most of the month, then fairly lax as the end of the month comes up.

After some time, we overhauled the system by getting rid of the physical cards and the limits and wrote a slack bot which would go into a database. We kept the drawing, making it a consistent $100 prize. Also, the previous system gave people with more High Fives more of a chance, something which we decided we didn’t like; in the new system, if you get a High Five that month, you have an equal chance as everyone else. However we added a second quarterly drawing for $500; for this one, you get a chance for each month you got a High Five.

Eventually, we learned of Small Improvements’ Praise system and decided to switch out the backend of our High Fives for the Praise backend. This makes it “free” to maintain (I mean, I know we are paying for Small Improvements, so take “free” with a grain of salt) and also provides us with the Praise Board functionality which we are currently planning the logistics around. In the meantime, we still have our #high-fives Slack channel, and it’s uncommon to see a business day go by where a new High Five message doesn’t show up.

All in all, High Fives have become an integral part of the Life360 experience, and we are continuing to grow our use. We encourage using High Fives to show appreciation, say thanks, and to draw attention to other Life360 people doing great work. As evidenced in the usage graph below, you can see that more and more people are using the system and using it more frequently (keep in mind that we’re only 75 people, many of whom were out in November). And yes, it still feels great to get a High Five!

Working with Us

Life360 is creating the largest membership service for families by developing technology that helps managing family life easier and safer. There is so much more to do as we get there and we’re looking for talented people to join the team: check out our jobs page.

Life360 Engineering

Musings of Life360's talented engineers

Thanks to Jeff Pierce

Josh Wickham

Written by

Life360 Engineering

Musings of Life360's talented engineers

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