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As a growing, remote tech company of over 700 employees whose mission is to make AI and automation actionable for everyone, Zapier’s focused on weaving Birkman into the company’s DNA to help leaders quickly build trust with their teams. By understanding and discussing what each employee needs to be their best in the workplace, leaders foster a culture of trust critical to collaboration and technological innovation.


The people leaders at Zapier are charged with three core responsibilities regarding their teams. They are asked to:

  • Support growth
  • Enable performance
  • Build trust

Accomplishing these goals is crucial for trustworthy team building. Zapier has been remote from the start, making it extremely important to intentionally cultivate trust and effective collaboration within its teams.  Additionally, consistent company growth means Zapier regularly onboards new hires to the company.

Zapier realized the need to adopt a non-judgmental tool for leaders and their direct reports to quickly and consistently connect, and to understand the behaviors or actions that might help or harm their ongoing relationships. Danielle Meinert, Learning & Development Program Manager, framed the initial and ongoing challenge as, “We’re all humans working together toward a common goal. How might we recognize our humanity to better support each other?”



Zapier integrated Birkman not just into various stages of the life cycle for every Zapier employee (known as Zapiens), but into the flow of work to provide the most robust opportunities to leverage Birkman in various workplace situations.

"Every employee receives an invitation to complete a Birkman assessment – Rather than limiting the gathering and sharing of Birkman insights to the C-suite or department leaders, Zapier makes these insights accessible across the organization to broaden the opportunity for self-awareness across diverse job functions and teams. Emily Mabie, Learning Designer for Manager Enablement, notes that “We see Birkman as a way to increase our awareness of ourselves…but also our awareness of others and the actions we can take to make sure our needs are met. And then through those two steps [we can] increase the performance, engagement, and retention of Zapiens.” 

"Regular intro, doubles, and teams sessions are scheduled to explore results" – To facilitate discussion about Birkman scores and help employees take a deeper dive into how scores can affect productivity and interaction with others, Zapier encourages employees to sign up (via a dedicated internal learning forum web page) for regularly scheduled exploratory sessions facilitated by a Birkman Certified Professional. During these sessions, employees receive guidance on using Birkman as an ongoing springboard for 1:1 and team discussions, and are prompted to reflect on how the behaviors highlighted in their Birkman results can work for or against them in various workplace situations. 

As one employee reflected, “The session itself allowed a safe (facilitated) space to build trust with my manager. It was useful to know where we were aligned and have natural understanding, and even more useful to understand where we differed to allow us to be more intentional with both giving and receiving communications with each other, including anticipating times of stress as well as potential stress behaviors. It opened the conversation for what topics may be important to check in during our 1:1s and how we prefer to handle conversations around incentives.”

Employees are encouraged to include key Birkman insights in their internal “ReadMe” files – Shortly after hire, each Zapien is asked (though not required) to complete a ReadMe document that provides helpful insight for colleagues on how to best work with them. ReadMe documents are then shared with select colleagues and leaders and included in Slack profiles at the employee’s discretion. Inclusion of Birkman insights in the document provides others key, actionable insights on their peers’ strengths, interests, and needs. By doing so, it lays the groundwork for quick “personality onboarding” that can help minimize conflict, build trust, and overcome personality obstacles that may hinder productivity and collaboration.

New teams are prompted to explore Birkman results together – Each team that comes together for project work has a Slack channel created for that project, and is prompted to review colleagues’ ReadMe files and engage in Birkman-related team building exercises that help them quickly get to know one another’s workstyles and workplace needs.



Implementing Birkman in layered ways across various stages of the employee life cycle gave leaders a reliable, customized way to differentiate how they show up for their direct reports, depending on the individual needs of each person under their leadership. Mabie believes it allows leaders to get the best performance, build the most trust, and support the most growth from each of their Zapiens.


Birkman is a Reliable Tool for Building Trust

“We’ve seen from our engagement surveys that a core competency our managers really succeed in is building trust and making their teams feel seen, heard, and safe,” Mabie notes. “Birkman is one of the tools we consistently recommend for building trust between managers and their teams, so when we see that very high and very stable data about trust on our surveys, we see that Birkman is working as a tool for building trust.”


Employee Engagement and Self-Awareness are Positively Impacted with Birkman

According to Meinert, engagement surveys also reveal that Birkman is positively correlated with engagement at Zapier. She notes that “people who participate in Birkman activities…are significantly more engaged working at the company than those who don’t participate in these activities.”

Exposing employees to Birkman early and often also meant that it could be used as a tool for conflict resolution. Ryan Richards, formerly in Zapier Learning & Development and one of the creators of the Birkman blueprint within Zapier, notes the consistent effectiveness of Birkman in a few key areas that impact conflict:

  • Helping employees gain awareness of their workplace needs
  • Recognizing the role intercultural differences might play in interpersonal challenges experienced on teams
  • Understanding how different communication styles play into overall team dynamics, and when/how to adapt behavior to reflect these differences to mitigate unhealthy conflict

Leaders within the company have recognized the impact of Birkman, with one noting that “From a leadership perspective, it was hugely helpful to understand how my team prefers others to show up with them (e.g. communication preferences) and what motivates/demotivates them. This will help in how we communicate and affect potential future project assignments that more closely align with their motivators.”

Birkman has been a natural fit with Zapier’s culture, which recognizes that employees can only perform at their best when they’re equipped by leaders to be at their best – and that this can only happen when an employee’s needs are met. Meinert describes the effect of talking openly about differing perceptions and workplace needs as creating “this nice flywheel [that happens when] employees choose to be open about who they are, how they’re showing up, and what their workstyles are. This can lead to really strong engagement and retention, which is a business outcome that saves money because your best people feel seen and heard. It’s good for the business.”

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