Gratibot - Liatrio’s Peer Recognition Chatbot

We'll explore how we use our peer recognition chatbot, Gratibot, to enhance Liatrio's company culture.

Ever see someone on your team handle a sticky situation like a bonafide legend? What about a team member who goes above and beyond to make everyone’s day less of a bummer? Or the team member who walks in balancing six coffees with their right hand and answers Slack messages with their left? My guess is you have. Worse yet, it may have gone unnoticed or unthanked (but I’m sure you wouldn’t forget to thank them, would you??). Usually, these people don’t expect you to do anything for them but imagine you could toss them a fist bump -- a virtual fist bump. That’d be awesome, right? Enter Gratibot.

Gratibot is a simple Slack bot we run in our Slack workspace to encourage people to recognize one another’s accomplishments and give shoutouts to those who have done something cool or gone above and beyond in their work. With that said, we have a LOT of people to thank!

This is a cool idea, right? But how does it work? Gratibot listens to chat in Slack channels it’s invited to; when it hears a particular emoji (in our case a :fistbump:🤜🤛) and tags a user, it awards the user recognition. These recognitions are supposed to be somewhat light-hearted (each user is only able to give out five fist bumps a day) and used for reasons ranging from nailing a demo at a client or sharing a new piece of knowledge (i.e., sharing a tech blog or creating notes for a new tool).

As we’ve expanded Gratibot, we’ve established a few working norms and functions across the team. For example:

Working Norms:

  • People cannot give themself a fist bump
  • A short message must accompany the recognition
  • Gratibot will only work in public channels

Functions:

  • A ‘help’ function explaining how to interact with Gratibot
  • A ‘balance’ function to show how many fist bumps one has
  • A ‘leaderboard’ function to show top receivers and top givers
  • A ‘metrics’ function to show how the use of Gratibot has changed over time

One of the organic features of Gratibot is that there is no pressure to give fist bumps, but all and any are cherished. Our CEO will even give multiple fist bumps a day to those who deserve a special shout out. Celebrating our wins together has allowed us to appreciate one another and provide a strong sense of community.

Originally, Gratibot’s recognition was just a fun leaderboard and a way to compete within our teams. Yet, after the bot’s initial work was completed, we started to offer small rewards for accumulating fist bumps.

Prizes

While recognizing coworkers is a great reason to give a shoutout, we think it’s vital that these fist bumps have long-term value. As a user’s collection of fist bumps increase, they can redeem fist bumps for prizes. Here’s an example of some of the rewards we offer here at Liatrio:

  • Company SWAG
  • Donations to Nonprofits
  • Gift cards

Most of the prizes we offer come from employee recommendations, which we believe help drive participation in using Gratibot. We have a very passionate team, and we want to celebrate them by helping them give back to the causes that are a priority to them.

Gratibot Framework

On a technical level, Gratibot is simple and easy to understand. We used the NodeJS framework Botkit to handle interfacing with the Slack API, and use MongoDB as a backend data store.

Gratibot’s functionality is split into separate ‘skills’ which correspond to the commands that the bot handles; most are as simple as ‘When the bot hears x do y.’ Because the functionality is so simple, the project structure can follow suit. Each skill is contained in its own Javascript file, while database functionality that may need to be shared between skills is kept in its own module. Thanks to a simple design and an easy to use language, even beginner developers can easily add code and functionality to the bot.

Gratibot’s MongoDB instance has a single database with a single collection of recognition. We store the basic information, such as the user giving the fist bump, the recipient, and the timestamp, but we also keep some additional information. That additional information, such as a message or a hashtag, can make it easy for someone to look back at the data and find fist bump trends.

Final Thoughts

Gratibot brings a fun spirit to our company culture. At Liatrio, we value helping one another and working together. We LOVE celebrating our coworkers for going the extra mile, making our day, and coming to our rescue. We use Gratibot to reinforce our team’s positive behaviors to celebrate the spirit of helping out with recognition and prizes. If you would like to learn how to set up your own Gratibot, you can find more information here.

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About Liatrio

Liatrio is a collaborative, end-to-end Enterprise Delivery Acceleration consulting firm that helps enterprises transform the way they work. We work as boots-on-the-ground change agents, helping our clients improve their development practices, react more quickly to market shifts, and get better at delivering value from conception to deployment.

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