How We Create A High Trust, High Performance Culture

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How We Create A High Trust, High Performance Culture

Recently I shared this article on trust by Paul J. Zak, a professor who helps firms across the country enable trust in their organizations. The science is pretty compelling that trust creates high performance companies. For a start, according to his research, in a study of over a thousand workers, firms in the top quartile when compared to those in the lowest quartile showed:

  • 76% more engagement
  • 50% more productivity
  • 50% more likelihood of staying

Zak’s article mentions eight trust factors to measure. If you’re using formal development plans for your people (which you should be) these trust factors are an excellent foundation to build those plans from. They line up pretty well with the development approach we take with our team members. Here’s a summary from Zak’s article with some of the tactics we use to implement them at Accsurant:

Recognize excellence – Celebrate the contributions of high performers openly and transparently. Accsurant is a division of MResult, a well-regarded business intelligence/professional services organization. MResult has a company-wide recognition program. Every month, each division nominates its top 3 contributors. The combined list is posted on the MResult company Intranet and a congratulatory message is sent out to the entire company. It’s a nice nod to our Accsurant team members who are included, but it also helps remind them they are part of a bigger organization.

Create challenges – Give your staff concrete, difficult but achievable goals. We have formal career growth plans laid out for all of our people that start immediately after onboarding. We also try to cultivate a culture of continuous learning in the form of special research projects. For example, at the time of writing, we had two team members researching how Power Pivot tables work and how our customers might use them. Another team member was assigned to learn about accounting in healthcare.

Delegate generously – Empower team members to execute projects without micro-management, increasing ownership over outcomes. We can trust our staff to make decisions and act independently because we’ve invested in setting up the software-enabled controls we need to make sure the work is getting done on time and to standard. 

We have other process controls like daily stand-up meetings and weekly one-on-ones between our team leads and staff. Controls help our people nurture and build relationships with our clients so both can grow. We try to build leaders this way.

Enable job crafting – Allow your staff some measure of job-crafting by choosing the tasks, projects, and work location. The biggest investment we’ve made in this area is our work-from-home policy – which is available to all of our team. Again, it comes down to investing in the controls to make sure work is getting done. And we don’t mean tracking tools like keyboard monitoring software. There’s no faster way to destroy trust than to constantly monitor someone.

Share information broadly – Create openness about the organization’s goals and the reasons for management decisions. At Accsurant, we conduct monthly meetings in which I discuss matters such as the strategic direction of the company.

Intentionally build relationships – Creating an open and harmonious environment allows colleagues to intentionally build relationships with each other, stimulating trust and enhancing teamwork. 

Facilitate whole person growth: Through professional development or by nurturing personal interests. We work really hard to craft professional development plans for our teams.

Be authentic and vulnerable – When trustworthy behavior is modeled by those in charge, others tend to follow. We’ve talked about how leadership and caring are achievable if you are intentional about it.

Building a high trust, high performance culture influences people’s behavior and interactions with colleagues at work, which in turn influences how well they go about creating value for your firm. Organizational trust is the social lubricant that directly influences how willing your employees are to go above and beyond in their roles.


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Yann Beaullan-Thong

Yann Beaullan-Thong

Yann is Accsurant’s president. With 20 years experience and six different technology startups behind him, Yann has a proven track record in developing innovative solutions based on his technology and financial acumen.