Episode 26: Building a High-Performance Team Culture with David Kravitz from Karmabot

Today on the Thoughtful Software Podcast, we’re talking with our friend David Kravitz of Karmabot.

Hosts: Fahad Shoukat and Andrew Wolfe
Guest: David Kravitz, Co-Founder at Karma


David is from New Zealand, has been in the industry for 15 years, our first international guest. Karma was their first side project to become a major project.  

Karma / Employee Engagement Product


  • It's a way to easily say thanks on chat that's linked to company values and rewards. It's about daily appreciation for teammates.  
  • Karma was built to be a solution to an internal problem.  When they created Karma, Slack was just starting to blow up. They wanted a system to help with micro-feedback and appreciation within Slack.  


Remote Working Culture


  • Slack is very popular among remote companies and teams. What's difficult is measuring collaboration. In an office, you can see when people are working together. It's hard to fully understand how people are working together when working remotely. Giving kudos is one way to do that.  


  • It's all about celebrating small wins. In great work cultures, people care about each other. Karma associates points given to each other. We should be looking for ways to help each other and build that into our work culture.  


  • When you're celebrated, it's easier to turn actions into habits. It starts happening on a subconscious level. The more you use Karma: the easier gratitude comes.


  • It's important to have an engaging remote work culture. Some tips are to try to have group calls in place, talking, joking, sharing life. With the use of apps like Karma, you can engage on the next level.  


The Psychology behind High Performance Team Culture

  • Before things like Slack and Karma, you'd have weekly one-on-ones or quarterly reviews. There were gaps in the feedback. Now, there's a real time look at the work culture. A new norm has been created.  

  • The continuous loop of feedback is better because you're not waiting a full year or quarter to really talk to your teammates about their performance. The continuous loop of feedback becomes the new normal.  
  • When you have notifications on your phone, you want to see it. It's a dopamine hit when someone likes pictures or messages you. The more you give and receive karma; the same thing can happen in your brain.  
  • No one ever was hurt from receiving too many "thank yous". If you don't receive gratitude when you expect it, it makes you feel sad. It's a great line between social media and likes and collaboration and kudos.  


Handling Negative and Positive Feedback

  • We need to handle negative feedback one on one. If you're growing, you're going to experience failure. It's all growth opportunities. Repeated mistakes require feedback. If people are bullied, it pushes people away from trying.  
  • Karma is a signal, but not the whole picture. Professional Accountability allows you to share constructive feedback. There's a thin line between professional accountability and bullying. We never suggest giving constructive feedback/criticism publicly but address it privately.  
  • Karma wants to help people by celebrating wins and strengths. It's telling when you don't receive Karma. That helps leaders give better one-on-ones. We want our product to help people give a nice description when given karma / recognition. That helps with the full picture. It's even better when you link the description with a company value. Then, it's not only an individual win, but a company win.  


The future of Performance Review Tools

  • The world becomes more dynamic as work cultures are moving toward chat messaging like Slack for their primary communication. People are using individual rewards less and less and are moving toward micro-feedback to help many people feel good instead of just singling out 1 person.  
  • HR will become more focused on micro-feedback and small wins instead of big-wins.

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Fahad Shoukat
Written by

Fahad Shoukat

Fahad has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an MBA. He brings over 15+ years in Business Development, Strategy, Sales, Product, and Marketing in various industries such as software development and Internet of Things (IoT). His experiences have led him on an unwavering pursuit to meet thoughtful people and build thoughtful software.