Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and bestselling author, recently featured Simpson Strong-Tie Vice President of Engineering Annie Kao on his TED original podcast WorkLife. Adam and Annie were joined by Berkeley Haas Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Jenny Chatman (full disclosure, she’s a member of Simpson Manufacturing’s Board of Directors) to discuss “The 4 Deadly Sins of Work Culture.”
In the full episode, Adam speaks with Chatman about how to recognize the four deadly sins of work culture before you join an organization and shares strategies on how to shape a thriving workplace from the inside. He also shares stories from employees and their experiences with toxic cultures.
You can catch this podcast episode here or read the transcript of the podcast here. Annie, who recently celebrated her 15th work anniversary with Simpson Strong-Tie, talks about the importance of aligning company culture and values while making sure every employee has a voice. Below are some snippets from her contribution to the podcast.
Creating a positive company culture starts at the top
“Our founder, Barclay Simpson had his nine principles of doing business — it’s something that we refer to all the time. And one of [his principles], is Everybody Matters.” Annie goes on to explain, “. . . everyone wants to be a part of this winning team . . . The work that you do matters, and people who enjoy their work . . . bring that passion with them to their work.”
Maintaining a strong work culture and avoiding groupthink
“. . . We were just talking about this as an engineering team . . . how do we make sure we have, you know, a diverse set of perspectives and opinions so that we don’t fall into groupthink and ‘well, this is how we’ve always done it.’ Let’s not just assume that we’re not doing, you know, groupthink . . .. Making sure to put together diverse teams, right? Like what questions are we asking as we start a project or as we put people on projects to make sure that it has the right, the right mix of people. And I think we ask ourselves that question, too, when we hire . . . who is the right new person on the team to challenge what we’re doing? . . . and how do we celebrate being challenged. . . so that . . . it’s not something that catches us by surprise?”
Asking for employee feedback
“[When we first did our] culture and leadership survey . . . there was feedback that people felt that they couldn’t really say something if they saw something that was against our values or against our policies. And so, as a result, we launched a program specifically to address that called Speak Up, Listen Up. We opened an anonymous phone-tip line . . . [and] an anonymous form you could fill out online. All managers took training — we put our money where our mouth is . . .”
Protecting your culture
“Yeah. I would say everyone in our company is responsible for protecting the culture . . . we are a values-driven organization and so I’m going to do whatever I can as a leader in our organization to make sure that is pervasive through every single role, every single level, because that’s not something that we are willing to go halfway on.”