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Originally uploaded to http://cdn.flamehaus.com/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf
Handbook courtesy of Valve

H ANDBOOK F O R
NE W E MPL OYEES

============================================================

H AN DB O OK FO R
N E W E MPL OYE E S
========================================================

A fearless adventure
in knowing what to do
when no one’s there
telling you what to doFIRST EDITION

2012

Table of Contents
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
How to Use This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viii
Part 1: Welcome to Valve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Your First Day
ValveFacts That Matter
Welcome to Flatland

Part 2: Settling In . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Dedicated to the families
of all Valve employees.
Thank you for helping us make
such an incredible place.

Your First Month
What to Work On
Why do I need to pick my own projects?, But how do I decide which things to
workon?, How do I find out what projects are under way?, Short-term vs. longterm goals, What about all the things that I’m not getting done?, How does
Valve decide what to work on? Can I be included the next time Valve is
deciding X?
Teams, Hours, and the Office
Cabals, Team leads, Structure happens, Hours, The office
Risks
What if I screw up?, But what if we ALL screw up?

Part 3: How Am IDoing? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Your Peers and Your Performance
Peer reviews, Stack ranking (and compensation)

Part 4: Choose Your Own Adventure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Your First Six Months
Roles, Advancement vs. growth, Putting more tools in your toolbox

Part 5: Valve IsGrowing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Your Most Important Role
Hiring, Why is hiring well so important at Valve?, How do we choose
the right people to hire?, We value “T-shaped” people, We’re looking
for people stronger than ourselves, Hiring is fundamentally the same
across all disciplines

Part 6: Epilogue . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
What Is Valve Not Good At?
What Happens When All This Stuff Doesn’t Work?
Where Will You Take Us?

Glossar y . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

Preface
In 1996, we set out to make great games, but we knew back
thenthat we had to first create a place that was designed
to foster that greatness. A place where incredibly talented
individuals are empowered to put their best work into the
hands of millions of people, with very little in their way.
This book is an abbreviated encapsulation of our guiding
principles. As Valve continues to grow, we hope that these
principles will serve each new person joining ourranks.
If you are new to Valve, welcome. Although the goals in
this book are important, it’s really your ideas, talent, and
energy that will keep Valve shining in the years ahead.
Thanks for being here. Let’s make great things.

© 2012 Valve Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
This handbook does not constitute an employment contract or binding policyand is subject
to change at any time. Either Valve or an employee can terminate the employment relationship
at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice. Employment with Valve is at-will,
and nothing in this handbook will alter that status.
First edition: March 2012
Valve Corporation
Bellevue, Washington USA
www.valvesoftware.com
Designed by Valve
Typeface: ITC New...
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