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Internal Feedback

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Internal Feedback

Companies will often wait to gather internal feedback until an exit interview after someone's resigned, or they'll organize an occasional survey to take a pulse on the company’s engagement. We feel that a quick, quarterly check-in is more aligned to our values Collaboration and Iteration. We use Google forms to gather feedback anonymously, and the responsibility of reviewing and collating feedback stays within People Operations to maintain confidentiality for all participants. We promise to share the spirit of the feedback we collect but will paraphrase and summarize responses and share only constructive and actionable feedback. Specific or personal comments or complaints will be investigated and dealt with privately, out of respect for the recipient(s).

In 2017, we rebranded our survey as a Stay Interview because we are most interested in three things: why people join, what makes them stay, and what would make them consider leaving GitLab. Below is a summary of the responses from the 130 team members (69.5%) who participated.

Feedback from the GitLab team - October 2017

I know what is expected of me at work.

Rating Percentage
Strongly Agree 41.27%
Agree 52.38%
Neutral 3.97%
Disagree 1.59%
Strongly Disagree 0.79%

I have the materials and equipment to do my work right.

Rating Percentage
Strongly Agree 52.38%
Agree 39.68%
Neutral 5.56%
Disagree 1.59%
Strongly Disagree 0.79%

I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

Rating Percentage
Strongly Agree 34.92%
Agree 45.24%
Neutral 16.67%
Disagree 2.39%
Strongly Disagree 0.79%

In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

Rating Percentage
Yes 73.02%
No 26.98%

My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

Rating Percentage
Strongly Agree 53.97%
Agree 38.89%
Neutral 5.56%
Disagree 1.59%
Strongly Disagree 0.00%

There is someone at work who encourages my development.

Rating Percentage
Strongly Agree 37.30%
Agree 34.13%
Neutral 22.22%
Disagree 4.76%
Strongly Disagree 1.59%

At work, my opinions seem to count.

Rating Percentage
Strongly Agree 39.68%
Agree 45.24%
Neutral 11.90%
Disagree 2.38%
Strongly Disagree 0.79%

The mission/purpose of GitLab makes me feel my job is important.

Rating Percentage
Strongly Agree 42.06%
Agree 44.44%
Neutral 11.11%
Disagree 2.38%
Strongly Disagree 0.00%

My fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

Rating Percentage
Strongly Agree 54.79%
Agree 34.13%
Neutral 8.79%
Disagree 2.38%
Strongly Disagree 0.00%

I have a best friend at work.

Rating Percentage
Yes 34.92%
No 65.08%

In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

Rating Percentage
Yes 83.33%
No 16.67%

In the last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow.

Rating Percentage
Strongly Agree 45.24%
Agree 35.71%
Neutral 13.49%
Disagree 5.56%
Strongly Disagree 0.00%

Actionable Items from the Survey Feedback Issue:

  1. Discomfort with Iteration
    • People Ops will focus on some training and information about the importance of iteration
  2. Feedback Training
    • Peer to Peer Feedback
    • Readdress Performance Management conversations
  3. Professional Development
    • Update Handbook to make it clear that they should be having a conversation with their team about Experience Factors. Not optional, the job of a manager is to communicate and have a conversation about it.

Feedback from the GitLab team - February 2017

Here is a summary of the responses from 91 team members (57%) who participated.

Why did you join? (responses in no particular order)

  1. Culture
  2. Values
  3. Vision
  4. Handbook available to review
  5. Great product, love working on developer tools
  6. A chance to work with smart people
  7. Positive atmosphere
  8. Ability to help GitLab achieve the vision
  9. Remote opportunity
  10. All remote - “I didn’t want to be the only one not in the office”
  11. Open source community
  12. Referred by a team member
  13. Autonomy
  14. Wanted to work for a start-up
  15. Career path
  16. GitLab is a disruptor in the industry!
  17. Flexible work environment
  18. Work in the Developer market
  19. Ability to impact the market/team
  20. Growth potential
  21. Commitment to open source
  22. Work on something meaningful
  23. Stock options
  24. People I met were cool
  25. Learning opportunities

Why have you stayed? (responses in no particular order)

  1. Culture
  2. Company spirit
  3. Values
  4. Boss is amazing
  5. Things are as “advertised” / discussed during interview
  6. People / Team / Colleagues
  7. Great product, working on developer tools
  8. The “experience”
  9. Flexibility
  10. Working with people smarter than me
  11. Feel like I am contributing
  12. Strong leadership
  13. Communication
  14. Benefits
  15. Remote opportunity
  16. Relationships / camaraderie
  17. Encouraged to take time off
  18. It’s not bureaucratic
  19. Feel empowered / autonomy
  20. Ownership / accountability
  21. Solve challenges, never bored
  22. Growth potential
  23. Commitment to open source
  24. Faith in the team steering our product
  25. Open source community
  26. Learning opportunities
  27. Treated like an adult
  28. Company encourages team members to attend conferences, travel to visit colleagues
  29. Work is appreciated / feel valued
  30. Everything told in interview / expectations were true
  31. Peer mentality, even at the highest level of management
  32. The company is flat enough to encourage true collaboration which is vital to growth

What would make you leave (what should we avoid in the future if possible)? If the following were to happen, I would consider leaving GitLab:

  1. Stagnation of career path, no opportunities to advance
  2. Pay decrease, not paid appropriately, below market pay
  3. Lack of respect
  4. Leaders not leading, no clear direction
  5. Too many restrictions on side projects
  6. Changing the values or culture
  7. The “spirit” leaves the team
  8. Change in the atmosphere, work model
  9. Company growth stops
  10. Volume of work drives quantity over quality
  11. Stop being introspective
  12. Ego gets in the way
  13. Lose feeling of openness (team call, transparency)
  14. Job becomes boring / less challenges
  15. If I am micro-managed, don’t feel empowered, lose autonomy
  16. Not feeling like I am contributing, valued
  17. If purchased by a large corporation
  18. A bad boss
  19. Work / life balance deteriorates
  20. The product begins to falter, lose value in the market
  21. Stops being driven by vision, reactive over visionary thinking
  22. Become burned out with no end in sight
  23. No training, opportunities to improve skills
  24. Compensation refuses to use market pay locally over cost of rent
  25. Job becomes unstable
  26. Communication no longer one of our strong points

Other Comments or Concerns (broken down by categories):

  1. Looking forward to GitLab's Parental leave policy
    • We are in the process of comparing country requirements to create a fair policy for our team members looking to add to their family.
  2. Feeling guilty taking time off
    • We encourage anyone who is concerned about taking time away from work to recharge to speak to their manager or reach out to our People Ops Generalist or People Ops Director to better understand the concern. We take our unlimited paid time off policy seriously.
  1. Why are quizzes necessary?
    • Quizzes reinforce that learning has occurred. When the courses were pulled from Grovo's content library, we were conscious to minimize or even eliminate this exercise for shorter courses. Confirming you understand and can apply the concepts covered is an important step in the learning process.
  2. Will we have technical training for non-engineering GitLab team-members?
    • This is on the radar for 2017.
  1. Need more explanation about the purpose and OKRs
    • We admit to rolling out OKRs quickly and asking people to jump on board for Q1 2017. We will spend more time exiting the quarter properly, learning from what went well and what can be improved and make every effort to improve the process for Q2.
  2. Fear of "Not my OKR, not my problem" moving toward thought process of not my job instead of helping team members out when they need it.
    • During a debrief on Q1, we will explore this concern further to see if it has any merit. We have committed to setting OKRs to help us achieve bigger results by focusing on a few key deliverables each quarter, however, we can't lose sight of the fact that we are in this to win as a team.

Technical Direction

  1. Need to Improve cloud and hosted solutions
    • This is one of our Q1 OKRs.

Feedback from the GitLab team - November 2016

What you like about working at GitLab

Remote working environment, product development, challenge of working on the product, potential we have for "making it big," great co-workers, the sense of a team, great culture, the feeling of being valued, personal responsibility, willingness of GitLab team-members to teach new GitLab team-members, transparency, and team calls.

What you would like to change & what we are doing about it

  1. Make the handbook easier to navigate.
    • We have added an Onboarding guide for new GitLab team-members. We also added Standard Operating Procedures for different departments to make what you are looking for easier to find. And don't forget, there is a search function at the top of the handbook that can help you find exactly what you are looking for! Update: This page has been moved to Onboarding
  2. Spend more time learning the technical side of our product.
    • Check out GitLab University to learn more about Git and GitLab. We will also be rolling out additional training on Git and GitLab during 2017 see issue.
  3. Refine the hiring process.
    • We have revamped our hiring process to be more efficient. Our global recruiters are working hard to ensure that every candidate is kept in the loop about where they stand in the hiring process, and managers are not spending too much time in Lever reviewing candidates. If you have any questions please feel fee to reach out on the #hiring channel on Slack.
  4. Refine the compensation principles.
    • Please check out our Global Compensation Framework. If you have any questions or concerns about the compensation principles, please let People Ops know!
  5. Focus on differentiating CE from EE.
    • We plan to build features that are interesting for enterprises and replace existing products.
  6. Focus on growth of GitLab team-members within the organization.
    • People Ops has instituted Grovo (individual contributor and management training), as well as Lattice (OKRs) to assist in the growth of GitLab team-members within their position at GitLab. We will continue to strive to work with managers to develop GitLab team-members at GitLab by drafting Professional Development Plans see issue.
  7. More face-to-face meetings and ability to meet up with GitLab team-members close by.
  8. Adjust the team call format to include more regular functional group updates.
    • The team call now has weekend updates every two weeks, a separate call for APAC GitLab team-members to give their weekend update, and functional group updates are separate events.
  9. Have more employee agreements instead of contractor agreements.
    • People Ops will be working to establish new entities/payrolls in more countries as we grow. Once this is completed we can transfer contractors to employees.
  10. Hire in departments that need more GitLab team-members.
    • We understand that there is always a lot to do at GitLab and for some departments this means that we might need to hire more GitLab team-members. If this is the case please communicate this to your manager and/or People Ops. If appropriate People Ops will open the role, and add it to the jobs page.
  11. Refine onboarding to be less intense/intimidating.
    • Onboarding can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing. To alleviate confusion about what you are doing and why, we created an Onboarding guide to explain each step. Update: This page has been moved to Onboarding.
  12. Move unlimited vacation to a set amount so GitLab team-members take their full vacation.
    • We are taking a look at what the best option is in regard to a limited or unlimited vacation. We want to urge that GitLab team-members take enough time off to recharge! Unlimited vacation/taking vacation is encourage at GitLab. For information on how these developments are going, check out the open issue
  13. Less downtime on
    • Our Infastructure team is always looking for new ways to improve the ownership of the things we ship. The team will look to have owners of services or features, and these services working will be the way they prove that they are actually delivering. Infrastructure has also increased uptime to 99.91% in December 2016.
  14. Casual and social interaction.
    • We have instituted Coffee Breaks to promote catching up with GitLab team-members. Also, all GitLab team-members are just a click away on Slack or a call away on the Random Hangout.
  15. Revise Lever Notifications.
    • Sometimes it can be hard to manage Lever notifications. Here are some guidelines to keep your inbox low.

What are you wondering about / What we are missing

  1. Are we growing too fast?
    • Check out our strategy page for why we are growing faster than feels intuitive.
  2. How to improve myself as a professional?
    • Aside from the internal tools at GitLab, you can expense any course or training that falls in line with Spending Company Money. Questions? Just ask your manager or People Ops.
  3. How are we using our series B funding?
    • We have released our master plan for how we plan on growing as a company as a result of our Series B Funding. Also, check out our Strategy Page.
  4. What are the plans for parental leave?
    • We are currently working on this issue.
  5. What are the mid to long term engineering strategies?
    • Make fast and reliable (99% page loads < 1 s).
    • Make GitLab a next-generation product.
    • Make GitLab a great place for engineers to grow.
  6. What does it take to move from a junior to intermediate or senior?
    • Some job descriptions have what is expected of a junior, intermediate, or senior, if applicable. For specific questions about each role, please speak with your manager. As this is still a work in progress for many roles, here is the open issue.
  7. Is there process for compensation reviews?
    • People Ops will be working on this in 2017.
  8. Will GitLab include a 401(k) match for US employees?
    • At this time, GitLab does not have a 401(k) match for US employees.
  9. Improve gender diversity.
    • Our Global Recruiters are working to ensure that the hiring process promotes diversity. We have also started a Slack Channel #diversity_inclusion. Please feel free to contribute at any time!
  10. Manager and 1:1 training.
    • As we grow and develop our internal trainings, we will make sure to educate managers on what should be discussed in 1:1's to ensure that the team member's personal and professional development is the core theme of these conversations.
  11. All meetings recorded by default.
    • All meetings that happen over Zoom are recorded and placed on the Google Drive under "GitLab Videos."
  12. Instructions on how to build a project on GitLab.
    • Here is some documentation on how to build a project within GitLab.

We also received a many responses stating we should not change or add anything, and that GitLab is an awesome place to work. This is great that GitLab team-members feel this way, and People Ops will continue to strive to create a culture where GitLab team-members are satisfied and engaged. Want to see where most of these changes were made? Check out the issue!

Feedback from September 2016, and presentation of responses

  1. Please checkout this presentation to see what responses and changes were made as a result of the September 2016 survey.

Feedback from January 2016, and responses

"What do you wish we had / What are you wondering about"

  1. "Contractor or employee? Worried about job security as a contractor."
    • We value all GitLab team-members equally, regardless of the legal arrangement that you have with GitLab. Due to legal restrictions and the difficulty of having people be employees outside of the US or NL (where we have a legal entity), a large portion of the team are contractors (21 out of 46). At GitLab, as everywhere else, job security relies mostly on how you are performing as a team member, and how the company performs as a whole. By the way, the contracts that we use are all viewable on /handbook/contracts/
  2. "More patience and consideration with ideas from newer people, things are sometimes quickly rejected as 'won't work' or 'not interested' without much explanation."
    • It is difficult to comment on what may have been specific circumstances, but if you have felt that your idea was rejected too quickly or without explanation, then please know that this was not intended to be unkind or harsh. There are many ideas and for the sake of efficiency we give minimal reasoning in responding. This is also due to the nature of asynchronous communication where it is hard to tell if an answer is extensive enough to satisfy the question. If you feel that an idea is being rejected rather quickly, you can and should request more explanation. This might lead to a fruitful discussion and a reconsideration.
  3. "Wish we had more time"/ "Wonder if sometimes we go too fast and should go slower to focus on quality and testing more"
  4. "Better supervision in the first two months"
    • Always be sure to reach out to your manager if you feel that you need more guidance. Your peers are a Slack message away.
  5. "Maybe a more competitive salary"
    • From the handbook: "If you are unhappy with anything (your duties, your colleague, your boss, your salary, your location, your computer) please let your boss, or the CEO, know as soon as you realize it. We want to solve problems while they are small."
  6. "A step between review/QA and deployment."
    • Review happens through merge requests, and QA happens as part of the release process. We can't think of anything else at the moment that would not introduce gates that cause delay and inefficiency.
  7. "Off-site meetings during the year and/or team-specific summits, like a hackathon"
    • We had a Summit in Oct'15, and are having one in May'16. We aim to have these every 6-9 months. We are thinking about organizing a hackathon during the Summit; please upvote if you want it to happen!
  8. "We share a lot about our software 'side'; can we share more about our other 'sides' (like how marketing does marketing) in a "team blog"? This would help in hiring awesome people!"
    • We love blog posts and sharing all of GitLab's 'sides'. Please channel your inner need to write a blog post (or part of it!) on our blog repo.
  9. "Additional training for dev people, maybe? Specific suggestions for topics include agile coding, code quality, and there is a suggestion for Robert "Uncle Bob " Marcin ( for code quality
    • After some research within the team there was a greater interest in a "birds of a feather" gathering than formal training. We're looking to do this during our Summit trip to Austin.
  10. "What features are we planning? See /direction
  11. "How are we doing? How does the Board see it? Can we keep up the growth and the Sales?"
    • Khosla is really happy so far. Keeping up growth depends on demand generation
  12. "If we are sometimes too open and too transparent in a way that hurts us?"
    • So far the only negative thing is that we suspect that competitors release their stuff early to preempt us, we think it is great that they are adjusting their schedule to ours!
  13. "Creating/using a standard for interviewing candidates."
    • Good idea, a lot of us use standard interview questions /handbook/hiring/#interview-questions but merge requests are welcome.
  14. "More formality in development process."
    • What form of formality? We welcome changes that don't reduce our productivity. Potentially we could start using issue weights more to gauge the load.

"What do you like about working here?"

  1. A lot of love for the team
    • Keywords people used to describe their fellow GitLab team-members are: 'talented, caring, teamwork, approachable, honest, frank, smart, brilliant, skilled, team spirit'.
  2. Great product
    • Four people mentioned it specifically, and this one sums it up nicely: "Working on a product that I actually love to use". Respondents also mentioned the fast pace of development.
  3. Open Source
    • Respondents value being involved in Open Source, with phrases such as: 'proving that open source is awesome and working with the rest of the community, working on open source while getting paid for it is a dream job!'
  4. Freedom and opportunity
    • We are a remote-first company and our GitLab team-members like: 'being remote-first, working from home, having personal independence, the freedom to choose what to work on, the freedom that you don't get in a corporate office environment, flexibility to get things done, slim process, slack oriented'
    • People also mentioned the opportunity to learn, and the massive opportunity that the project and the company has.
  5. Team dynamic
    • Several people mentioned that they really like the team dynamic, specifically: 'the support that you need is there, you have the ability to take on multiple hats and responsibilities, everyone and everything is open to constant improvement, ability to collaborate even though we're remote, we're remote but still have a great sense of "team", love the cross discipline collaboration that goes on every day'

Feedback from the GitLab team - September 2015

Summarized in this presentation about "Stuff the GitLab team likes and does not like", here is what the team said in September of 2015.

What we love about working at GitLab

Freedom, flexibility, enthusiasm, passion, great, smart, engaging, enjoy teaching, feels like a family, great dynamic, supportive, approachable execs, supportive, transparency, speed of innovation, remote working, company sponsored training, great Summit in Amsterdam.

and also

Great product, ability to create new processes, company growth, no bureaucracy, no high pressure, opportunity, our growth, the challenge of maintaining quality of people, product, brand etc, laser focus on improving collaboration through social coding, market adoption, our work is public so we can talk about it, and our ability to create new processes.

What we wish we had or what we want to be doing & What we’re doing about it

  1. More GitLab team-members.
    • We’re hiring
  2. Bigger feature gap between CE and EE.
    • Current plan is to have one EE feature added per release, so over time the difference will grow.
  3. More summits.
    • Current plan is to have a summit every 6-9 months.
  4. Better onboarding.
    • We're working on this with GitLabUniversity (GLU) content, continuous improvements to documentation and the handbook
  5. Customer success events, starting in the Bay Area.
    • Cool idea, start an issue and make it happen!
  6. Coaching on Agile and Lean approaches for Engineering team.
    • Great idea, we'll look into it. Suggestions are welcome.
  7. A scale with happiness of last work week for feedback.
    • We've working this into our feedback from in a different setting for now.
  8. Global presence of Service Engineers, and dedicated trainer and training materials.
    • We're working on this through hiring. Also, we have high hopes of GLU, ongoing content creation, etc. to help out here.

What we’re wondering about & the answers to our thoughts

  1. Stock options: terms, conditions
    • Does the handbook answer your questions? (/handbook/stock-options). Please feel free to ask Paul.
  2. What the company will look like 3, 6, 12 months from now? (community-ish, enterprise-ish)
    • The community and people using GitLab will keep growing. 12 months from now we'll answer all questions from the community on all platforms (from forum to Stack Overflow), we 'll have a proper swag shop and have more developer oriented content (blog posts, videos).
    • Enterprise wise we'll have double the features we have now, a twice as large sales team, and many add-ons. Feel free to ask something more specific if you need more detail. And of course try to shape it as you think it should look.
  3. How committed are we to building EE features and having significant releases each month?
    • Very committed. At least one tentpole EE feature every month. Next 3 releases contain 2 or 3 each! /direction/
  4. Sales team hiring plan
    • We're hiring but it is not a priority until everyone is up to speed and trained. But we expect that to happen soon, and the marketing machine will come up to speed soon, after which hiring becomes a priority.
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