Recognizing Employee Excellence with the Strive Award

At Strava, we have five core values that are fundamental to our culture: Authenticity, Balance, Craftsmanship, Camaraderie, and Commitment. We call them the Strava ABCs, and we use them to guide our behavior as we strive to build the most engaged community of athletes in the world.

To recognize employees that go above and beyond expectations in living out our values, we have a peer-nominated award that we call the Strive Award — Strava is the Swedish word for “strive”. While this is a company-wide award that is not limited to engineering, we want to write about it on our engineering blog — it is incredibly important for our engineering team to align with the values and operating principles of the company as we work with the broader team around us.

The Strive Award Trophy

How It Works

At the end of every quarter, employees are encouraged to nominate peers for the award. Nominations include the core values that the nominee demonstrated as well a written description of how the nominee embodied these values and made a lasting impact on our company, our employees, or our community of athletes. A committee of 5–7 employees reviews the nominations and selects three winners for the quarter. Winners are recognized in front of the entire company at our regular all-hands meeting, and they receive a trophy as well as both a cash and equity bonus. Once a year, winners gather for a celebratory dinner with members of Strava’s executive team.

What Does It Take To Win?

We have been awarding Strive Awards for five quarters now, and winners have come from departments all across the company. Many winners are not surprises — sometimes excellence is visible and obvious to much of the company. Other winners are unsung heroes, quietly embodying our values and leaving a lasting impact in ways clearly visible to their immediate peers, but not seen more broadly.

One winner championed athlete privacy inside the organization and built a cross-functional team to take ownership of making improvements for our athletes. Another rallied the marketing team with major efforts over weekends and holidays to execute a critical year-end campaign. Other winners have been recognized for internally facing efforts that have made Strava a better place to work. One thing all winners have in common — they inspire their peers to praise their efforts in detailed nominations.

Why This Matters

Like any growing startup, our strategies, tactics, and focus change over time, sometimes rapidly. Our core values do not change. Our values are fundamental to our culture, and intentionally recognizing and rewarding behaviors that embody these values helps us all keep them at the front of our minds.

No one intentionally does something with the goal of winning a Strive Award. The award is a byproduct of intentionally and exceptionally applying our values to our work on a daily basis. Celebrating our peers in this manner keeps morale high, and it also helps onboard new employees into our culture with concrete examples of what it means to live the ABCs.

Building a great engineering team involves a lot of technical excellence, but the best engineering teams are more than just the sum of their technical parts. They work to align with and support the culture around them so that technical effort can drive business value as effectively as possible. We’ve written a bit about one of our other cultural mainstays, Strava Jams, and we’ll be sharing more about both company and engineering culture in the future. We hope it will inspire engineers at other companies to think about organizational programs they can implement to reinforce their own respective cultures.

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