In the latest in a series of posts talking about the values that are the building blocks of SIPHON and its people, Aled Treharne talks about accountability and how it infuses our actions.
Accountability is a common theme in many businesses and in fact in our lives in general. We are all held to account in our daily lives – by our teachers, manager, parents and children. We, in turn, hold others to account – public servants, the organisations we deal with and our elected representatives. We are so familiar with it that we barely register when we practice it in our lives. So why did we include this as one of our key values?
In our discussions on our values, we talked about what were the building blocks that made up the DNA of SIPHON – what was it that kept customers coming back to us again and again. What actions did we take and how did we take those actions, that led to such loyalty? The aspect that we kept returning to after hours of discussion was our ownership of the relationships that we build – our accountability to our customers, to the business and to each other.
From the very start of SIPHON we have empowered our employees to stand up and be heard. Our Managing Director, Steve Harris, is always ready to listen to the staff and discuss their concerns. I recall during our first year of operation when I was asked by a customer for my opinion on a controversial point, I was hesitant. I had previously worked for companies who didn’t place such trust in most of their staff, requiring that such opinions were first approved by directors. I asked Steve, jokingly, if our liability insurance covered us if I was wrong. He smiled and told me not to worry, that I had been invited to join the company because of those very opinions, but to remember that I was accountable for the words I spoke and the actions the customer took based on those words.
This is a principle that’s stayed with us. We take great pains to ensure that ownership of issues, tickets, questions, relationships and tasks are all clear to everyone involved, from vendors through to customers. We recognise that each of us can have a positive outcome both on our customers’ success and our own and we take ownership of making that success happen. We “go the extra mile” – providing levels of support that our customers simply don’t see elsewhere. We represent our customers to our vendors and advocate on their behalf. And we make clear to everyone involved that we stand by those words, those opinions, those relationships. We invite people to hold us to account.
It’s been an interesting journey for me in writing this post. I can instinctively recognise what actions are embodied in this value – the passion with which people in SIPHON practice this value is clear. We hold each other to account frequently and challenge where ownership is not clear. Talking to customers who know us well, they point to these actions and tell us that this is what makes us successful and a great company to work with. Step inside SIPHON and you’ll see that too. To try and explain this in a post on this blog has been challenging – to succinctly and clearly describe what this value means to me and to the company is not easy. But I took ownership of this, I wanted to go the extra mile and explain to everyone why this was important to us.
Now you get to hold me to account. How did I do?