Trust and Accountability

A thought piece by Hannes Wagner

Trust and accountability are at the very heart of STRUXIT’s company culture. Here, founder and director Hannes Wagner explains why this ethos underpins the success of this thriving business.

Trust and accountability are at the very centre of our company culture. It starts with committing our work to the Lord. That assists us to establish our plans. Our appointment process is in close second place. When STRUXIT was started, my approach to hiring was to get the person who was best in their field, someone who is self-motivated, innovative and not afraid to take responsibility.

The intention is to maximise the intelligence and capabilities of our team. It’s an approach that Liz Wiseman explores in ‘Multipliers: how the best leaders make everyone smarter’. The way to get the most out of people is to give someone free reign and trust in their abilities, and then hold them accountable for their decisions. People are encouraged to put more into their work, which in turn increases a company’s revenue and allows business to thrive.

We actually encourage people to try and make mistakes. We have found that it undermines a person’s power if we don’t trust them and diminishes their responsibility. If something does go wrong, we expect people to own their mistakes, but we also give them the benefit of the doubt and assist them to solve the problem. So, it’s a mutually supportive environment. We take this culture through to our clients – they entrust us with their engineering work, and we take full accountability for our decisions. This brings them peace of mind.

We try to find the right role for each person, suited to their abilities. We employ many different types of people and there is a place for each of them. All team members bring their own personalities to the job, and we try to embrace all ways of thinking. Sometimes this means looking at how we can adapt a team member’s work strategy to increase their efficiency. Some people thrive when they have autonomy to make their own decisions, and others need very direct tasks with clear guideline on what they should do.

And, as we grow the business, we also support our high performers to bring in more work and execute more work – and they always get the work done. Netflix follows a similar principle. They only appoint high performing individuals who take full accountability and responsibility for their actions. Their only rule is that decisions should be taken in the best interests of the company.

The rewards from this approach are considerable. For example, one of our engineers, Will Olivier, stepped up to execute all our responsibilities on four shopping centres we were busy with a couple of years ago. He took complete ownership for these – I only had to verify his final design. When he needed information, he tapped into the technical expertise of our senior management, directors, and an external specialist. They provided the oversight and skills he didn’t yet have. He’s now 29 years old and has completed ten shopping centres while having eleven other people reporting to him.

I believe that this culture is the reason we get work. Our clients trust us to take ownership of a project and we are proud of what we do. We take full accountability, even outside of our scope. On one project, Salta Sibaya, it was critical that the residential stands have views of the ocean. We worked through the night to make sure that the layouts worked. We had to drop certain roads and garages, change the roof design of adjacent units to enhance views, work to the limit of the sewer system, and look at the impact on construction sequencing and timelines for delivery. All of this while avoiding elaborate solutions, to keep the project time efficient. We also advised the client to make the best decision for the longevity of the project in terms of maintenance and feasibility. We did all of this without raising a single concern.

In the end, we delivered in the client’s best interest as though the project was our own. This is the ethos that we expect from our people, and it’s the ethos that we bring to our work with each client. It is the foundation of our success.