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Not in the Valve Employee Handbook: firing staff is a “peer-driven process” too


When Valve’s handbook for new employees surfaced a few months back, a rapt internet read from cover to cover. Subtitled ‘A fearless adventure in knowing what to do when no one’s there telling you what to do’, it represented the most in-depth look at the company’s unique working structure we’d ever had. And it seemed positively idyllic.

What the handbook didn’t cover, though, was what happens when a Valve employee isn’t pulling their weight. It turns out that Valve working theory swings both ways – when everybody’s the boss, everybody’s involved in giving you the boot.

“I wish that we had covered firing in the employee handbook,” Valve’s Greg Coomer told the Seattle Interactive Conference yesterday, as reported by Geekwire. “It was one of the things that we left out. And we tried writing it, and we didn’t feel like we were capturing how Valve thinks about (firing) in a well enough way. It was almost a wording problem. We couldn’t get it done in the time that we wouldn’t to finish the handbook.

“The short answer of how we handle terminations, really, is the same as we approach all other decisions at the company. It is a peer-driven process. If it turns out that we made a bad hiring decision, or that somebody is just not working out, there’s a method we use to get the people who are involved in the same room and to walk through the decision about what should really happen as a result of this person not functioning very well.

“Some of the details are kind of boring, but the main answer is that it is peer-driven, just like we evaluate each other as peers.”

Oo-err. Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw have said they spent months convinced Valve would fire them after cherry-picking the pair from cult gaming site Old Man Murray. No wonder they were worried.

Now you’ve perused the handbook, what do you think of Valve working practice?