For three years running, The Network Support Company has been selected by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers as a Top Place to Work in Connecticut. This is a pretty special award, because it’s based solely on survey responses from employees. There are many reasons the people who work here think it’s a great place, but one of them is certainly the trust that exists between management and employees, and between managers, and between employees; the second is the level of transparency that comes with trust.
Before we can go much further, we’ll need to define both “trust” and “transparency” in the context of the workplace… and understand how they intertwine.
At TNSC, trust is the belief that each person here will act in a way that demonstrates he/she always has the best interests of both the company and their coworkers in mind. That sort of trust is lived out by supporting each other in both business and personal goals, along with giving each other the benefit of the doubt when, inevitably, things don’t go as planned. It’s an all-for-one, one-for-all mentality, with authentic caring and compassion for one another that surpasses even “team” and begins to feel more like “family.” Of course, this sort of thing doesn’t just happen by simply declaring it to be so; we’ve spent years very intentionally cultivating this unique culture of compassion and family, primarily because it is just simply the right thing to do, but also believing that a tightknit group of employees creates a more successful business and a far more enjoyable work environment.
Both an ingredient and by-product of this culture is transparency. When there is trust, there is a safe place for honesty and openness. Likewise, honesty and openness fosters trust. Our commitment to transparency demonstrates itself in many areas, but one example is company financials. We make our financial reports available to all of our employees, not only our managers. We do this so that, if we have to make cuts, everyone knows why… and so that, when we’re doing well, we can celebrate together.
Of course, along with that transparency comes the need to educate; if we show a great profit in one year, employees might wonder why they’re not getting a piece of that! So we’ve had to educate that profit does not equal cash, because we still have to pay taxes and pay our bills, as well as maintain and grow our infrastructure. Again, that transparency cultivates trust.
We seek that same level of trust and transparency with clients, especially concerning how we are managing their account and our relationship as partners. Our primary tool to accomplish this is our Customer Portal. Every one of our customers has access to this portal, where we make available our exhaustive documentation on their account, as well as copious metrics on our performance – so that they can view data on how their dollars are being spent and better manage our service to them.
This is a bit of a two-edged sword for us. While we enjoy great relationships with our clients, this level of documentation provides them with a bit of ammunition they wouldn’t typically have (we record, for example, billable vs. non-billable hours, how each hour of our contracted time is spent, etc.). So they ask questions about things they wouldn’t typically even know about with other tech companies. Questions like, “why are you billing us three hours for a problem that should have taken 10 minutes to resolve?” Of course, like with our employees, this sort of dialog gives us the opportunity to explain things better – with the benefit of everyone working off the same set of facts. All of this promotes that genuine trust that we’re seeking.
What we do is rare in the technical network support business. But we do it because we believe that, first and foremost, we are a customer service business. It’s in that vein that we strive to promote a relationship based on transparency and earned trust.