What are the traits of the best team? I’ve seen the best and the worst, while performing technical due diligence for seed, series A and B, and M&A rounds. As a firefighting CTO, I’ve helped some of these companies turn the team around. It all starts with culture.
A strong company culture is essential for success, but evaluating it can be difficult. A cultural assessment test can help measure and improve team culture. The Steve Test is a fast and easy way to assess your company’s culture.
Use the test to answer questions like the following:
- What workplace culture assessment can I perform?
- How do I analyze good company culture?
- What's the best company culture fit for me?
- How do you perform a culture assessment?
- How do you evaluate organizational culture?
- How can you measure company culture via a test?
- How do I know if a team has good company culture before I join?
Onto the test - evaluate your team culture!
Every true statement earns one point. Aim for 10 or better. The best teams in the world do.
- Outcomes are assessed instead of output
- Feedback occurs regularly
- Interpersonal vulnerability thrives
- Tasks are clearly defined and prioritized
- Time is reserved for deep focus
- Interactions support collaboration over competition
- Worker health, mental and physical, is protected
- Knowledge is systematically shared
- Diversity, inclusion, & equity permeate
- Colleagues and leaders are compassionate and empathetic
- Decisions are data informed
- Employees and their families flourish
1. Outcomes are assessed instead of output
Nothing kills motivation more than a boss that wants you to sit in a chair from 9 to 5 regardless of what you actually do. Screw that! The best companies assess you fairly, based on the results (and value) of your work rather than how long your butt has been in a seat.
2. Feedback occurs regularly
How do you know you're doing good work unless you get feedback? Teams need to set aside moments to reflect about the work they are doing and look for ways to improve. At the same time, when you're producing the best results, are others taking notice? Positive feedback is key to a good working environment.
3. Interpersonal vulnerability thrives
"I can't wait to go to work to play politics, get scolded publicly, and have my manager make arbitrary decisions because they don't like me," said no one ever. Leaders recognize that we are all human and mistakes are inevitable. What matters is how you — and the company — react to them.
4. Tasks are clearly defined and prioritized
Have you ever started a task and shortly afterwards something with higher priority lands on your desk? This is a frustrating experience for anyone. Bosses that can't properly manage priorities and communicate tasks only frustrate those that report to them. How can you be efficient if you are constantly jumping from one thing to the next, especially when they aren’t well-scoped and described to begin with?
5. Time is reserved for deep focus
You've grabbed your morning cup of joe, worked your way through a couple emails, and you're ready to dive into the presentation you need to prep for the big meeting. But then a colleague needs help with a question, your manager wants to discuss last week's priority changes, you get a phone call from your better half, and on and on it goes. It's time for lunch and you didn't get anything done. Does the company help you defend your time or are you required to be on Slack constantly?
6. Interactions support collaboration over competition
Office politics are the worst. They're often the result of policies from a manager that pit one employee against another. Rather than have the team work towards a common goal, people must kick and scratch and battle their way through the workday. Do you get the support you need? Or will your boss take credit for your idea yet again?
7. Worker health, mental and physical, is protected
There are many small nudges that companies can take to help their employees stay balanced. Yoga classes, fruit bowls, and running competitions are just a couple ways to protect the team's well-being. Some companies even offer free therapy — with a professional, of course. How does the company support you?
8. Knowledge is systematically shared
"You can ask Pat how to do that, but they're out today." Oof. It's hard to work in a place where you get the run around for simple requests. The best companies write everything down and give everyone access to it. Need to know how the sales team handles a specific situation? Just open up the documentation and take a look.
9. Diversity, inclusion, & equity permeate (DEI)
Remember the time when that newly released technology had a racial bias because it was built by a homogenous group? Some companies truly care about creating equitable environments. Others just want to tick off the items on their list. Do you want to work in an environment that discriminates?
10. Colleagues and leaders are compassionate and empathetic
No one likes working for a jerk. In fact, a survey performed in January 2022 found that 82% of American workers (n: 3000) would potentially quit because of a bad boss. Most people think about applying for work as a tryout, like joining a sports team. Instead, reframe it so that you are hiring the company; you are hiring your next boss and team. I hope you find the right people.
11. Decisions are data-informed
"I'm the boss so you need to do it my way." Don't you hate hearing this when you have some facts on your side? Using data to make decisions is an industry best practice, but that requires investing in research to find the right answer. How does your current company incorporate data into decision making?
12. Employees and their families flourish
Why would you ever join a company that doesn't truly care about the people that constitute it? We've heard horror stories like workers contracting UTIs while waiting for a bathroom break, people forced to cancel their honeymoon because their time off was denied, and all sorts of worker safety violations. Does your company actually want to see you — and your family — thrive or do they simply see you as a resource?
So how does madewithlove score?
Gold stars for everyone! Just kidding. I think madewithlove scores 11 out of 12. DEI is a sore spot for us but we’re working to improve it. The company was founded in Belgium and is largely composed of Belgians — specifically middle aged nerdy white dudes. Help us populate the team with a more diverse cast, with people that think like you do. Check our careers page for more information about the open positions we have.
This test is largely based on our experiences mentoring startups. I’ve documented our key findings in a book, Free Range Management. Check it out if you’d like to know more about how we think about building teams and leading knowledge workers by creating space.