Empowerment and Trust Matters
When one looks at the 10 Best Large Workplace list for Ireland, almost all are instantly recognisable multi-national brands, carrying huge market caps and deep pockets, with one anomaly - Version 1, an indigenous, privately held IT Consulting company of c 1000 employees. One of the questions I get asked in Version 1 is 'how do you guys compete with the big guns on that list?'. On Friday, I attended the CIPD Awards, and was delighted to accept the award for 'Empowerment and Trust' on behalf of Version 1, where I was again asked this question several times. The answer to the above question lies in those two words: 'Empowerment and Trust'; these are the reasons that Version 1 competes on that list.
When it comes to Trust, it doesn't matter what your market cap is, how deep your reserves are or how strong your market brand is. When it comes to Trust, you are judged on your actions - all of them, every day - period. Trust remains one of the few things which cannot be mimicked, faked or purchased; it is built slowly, over years, and it requires hard stuff like integrity, respect and authenticity. And to make it a little harder, Trust is always under scrutiny; there is never a let up.
Empowerment is the manifestation of trust; upon trust, you can build a culture free of bureaucracy, politicking and silo-wars. you can carve a clear path to your customer and create an environment where your people can do what they came to work to do - make a difference, add value and deliver outstanding service to a customer. Empowerment is reciprocal in nature; empowered people take responsibility and ownership and the ultimate result is a virtuous cycle of progress and growth. Version 1 has enjoyed c30% CAGR and much of this is attributed to this virtuous cycle which our culture of Empowerment and Trust has created.
The price for Empowerment and Trust does not require deep pockets - the price is conviction and commitment; a conviction that Trust matters and a commitment by all to take actions which build trust and empowerment. this requires hard decisions, constant conversation, risk-taking plus a host of qualities such as maturity, integrity, respect, openness and authenticity. It would be far easier to just focus on the business and the next set of results rather than put in the hard yards that goes into building a culture of Trust, but in business architecture, Trust is the foundation of longevity.
Whether you are a 5 person company or a 5,000 person company, the first step on the journey is to examine your conviction to Empowerment and Trust - are people really your greatest asset? do you truly believe in the power of a great culture? is there a passion to create something lasting? different? do you want to run a balanced business where culture and customer stand equally alongside profit and results? Difficult soul searching but once clarified, commitment is not only easier, but immediately fruitful and rewarding.
Next Wednesday, the Great Place to Work host their 2017 Best Workplace celebrations. These Best Workplaces are judged ultimately on Trust - so regardless of market cap or reserves, all on that list hold that conviction and have made that commitment. I wish all participants the very best of luck and look forward to a great occasion - as it always is!