10 Dec

When It’s Time to Change Teams

As I was lamenting the second loss in a row for the 49ers this weekend, I was thinking about what factors into someone becoming a fan of a professional sports franchise. Is one a fan because a team is local to them? Or because the quarterback went to a local school? Or maybe it’s because all of your friends are fans. Or it’s the team you remember rooting for as a child. Or maybe it was because your dad was a fan. I think all of these have factored into my decision to root for the 49ers.

Another factor might be a very good player that you look up to and admire their skill. I recall in high school, college and beyond, I was a huge Michael Jordan fan. That translated into me being a fan for the Chicago Bulls.

On the flip side of this question is why someone might stop being a fan. Do you drop them over one season with very disappointing play (i.e. 49ers), or does it go deeper than this? Long ago, I used to root for the Oakland Raiders. For several reasons, I gave them up years ago and when I see a game on, I quickly change the station.

I believe in business, you have to do the same assessment. What makes you a fan of a certain manufacturer or vendor providing you services? Is it price? Is it service they provide? Is it the talent they have on staff? Is it their follow-through? It is probably “all of the above” for you.

Related to this, when is it time to leave a vendor? Do they fumble a lot (i.e. mess up orders)? Do they often get “delay of game” penalties by missing deadlines? Do they follow-up three business days after a call or an e-mail is left for them?

To be fair, in a relationshp with a vendor you will have your ups and downs, but at some point you will probably choose to leave that relationship if this type of behavior continues.

At Telcion, we take our relationship with our customers very seriously. We want you to be fans of our business; impressed with our expertise, delighted with our follow -through, and ecstatic with the value our solutions provide. And most of all, we want you to feel respected throughout the entire process.

If you are already a fan of Telcion, thank you for your support. If you haven’t decided yet on a vendor, or are looking to switch teams in the future, please contact me at drodrigues@telcion.com and let’s work out a game plan for success.

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21 May

The Value of Knowledge

How invaluable is it to work for a company that encourages personal growth and is even instrumental in the personal growth?

Telcion believes in adding value to our customers but also to our employees. Lance Reid, the CEO, conducts weekly leadership training for all employees that are interested in personal growth. He also encourages employees to obtain certificates and degrees to further their knowledge. I can speak from experience on this topic.

A little over a year ago, I decided it was time to go back to school and finish my degree and obtain my Certified Management Accountant certificate. Lance encouraged me to reach this goal and even helped me pick out colleges. After a long grueling year of studying and taking tests, I can say I am in my junior year at the university. Once I graduate, I am eligible to sit for the CMA exam.

Lance will ask me every few weeks how my studies are going and even lend a thought or two into a paper I might be writing. This support is invaluable. Now once I graduate, the company will hopefully benefit from my knowledge but I benefit by actually accomplishing the task.

I don’t think I would have ever completed this endeavor if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement from the wonderful people I work with.

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13 May

Give Up to Go Up

One of my core values is personal growth. It’s very important to me that I keep on learning and growing. And I want to be around people that also want to keep learning and growing. (People that aren’t growing are boring, aren’t they?) But it’s not easy sometimes. It’s much easier to coast, especially after you have a couple decades of experience and are at the top of your field of expertise.

What I’ve learned over the years is that personal growth is a journey. It’s not something that is ever attained or finished, but a road that we continue to travel down. The farther down the road I get, the more I realize how much more there is to learn still. There are times in my life when I need to step back and reflect so I can learn and absorb what I’ve been through, but overall, my personal growth trajectory should be steadily climbing.

About 8 weeks ago I began taking our team through one of John Maxwell’s leadership development curriculum called the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, based on the book with the same name. I had read the book last fall, and I felt compelled to share it with the rest of the company. It has been a lot of fun spending time with my team each week going through these different laws, and learning and growing together. Going through a personal development course like this really helps you connect with the people on your team, understand where they are at, and motivates all of you to make some adjustments in your personal growth.

One of the biggest reminders for me as we’ve gone through this material is that in order to continue to grow, we usually have to give something up. And the higher you get, the more sacrifice that is required. This is part of what makes it so hard to keep growing instead of reaching a certain point and then coasting. Many of us get tired of making sacrifices and just want to get on cruise control instead. So my challenge to you is this: What’s the next big growth area for you? Something you’ve always wanted to learn or develop? Once you’ve identified this, then ask yourself: What do I have to give up, so I can go up?

Whatever it is, you won’t regret it.

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13 Mar

Weighing in on the Telecommuting Debate

There has been a lot of press recently around the changes Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is making with telecommuter employees.  She has been getting slammed by a lot of people who deem her actions as inappropriate, out of sync with today’s culture, and downright demoralizing.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, Ms. Mayer has determined that to improve company culture and increase productivity, Yahoo! is no longer allowing people to work from home during normal business hours and is requiring them to come to the office.  From the outside looking in, it would appear to be a direct assault on today’s culture where we are trying to improve work/balance by creating virtual environments that allow people to work from home, or anywhere for that matter.

I have written before on the many reasons why a virtual office environment is beneficial, and I am still very much a proponent of this kind of company culture and the advantages it brings.   The #1 advantage is that it increases productivity.   People who have the ability to work remotely log more work hours than people who don’t.  Also, they aren’t being interrupted with all the inter-office socializing that takes place, so they get more work done in less time.  Hard to beat.

So what are the downsides?  In my opinion, there aren’t any.  However, it does mean a change in culture for many organizations.   For example:

You can’t see people actually working.   That means you have to trust that they are doing their work.  In my office, all I care about is that things are getting done.  We don’t micro-manage.  Everyone is accountable for their job, it’s clear what their responsibilities are, and it’s clear when they are or are not getting things done.   In Daniel Pink’s book,Drive, he talks about a Motivation 3.0 work culture.   Today’s workers want autonomy, and companies that provide this will see far greater results and will retain workers for a longer period of time.

You can’t substitute good communication.  Virtual workers need to be able to communicate easily with other co-workers, and vice-versa.  They can’t be isolated or unreachable, and today’s collaboration tools enable this capability.  Whether the person is in the office or virtual, they are just as reachable by phone, IM, email, or video.

You must create times to communicate for each team, so people feel like they are a part of something and not out there on their own.  In our office, our engineering and sales teams have separate check-in meetings first thing every morning.  Everyone on the team calls in to the meeting bridge and gives a one-minute update on their planned activities for the day and any obstacles they are currently facing.  These meetings last less than 10 min, but keep everyone in sync and make everyone feel like they are part of the team.  In Patrick Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting, he talks about how to have the right kind of meetings, which are meaningful and productive, including these daily check-in meetings.   In today’s world, it’s hard to get everyone in the office for a meeting anyway.  People are traveling, seeing clients, vendors, etc.  Who has time to make sure they are in the office on a certain day and time just to have a meeting?   Collaboration tools enable meetings to happen anytime, from anywhere.   Create a quick meet-me conference bridge.  Use video.  Share desktops.  Get more done.

The idea that someone working virtually means they are working from home is not the case any longer.   Just the other day I had a couple hours to burn between client meetings, so I found a place to sit, and I went to work.  Virtually.  Nobody knew I wasn’t at my desk.   Tell me that’s not more productive.

As far as Ms. Mayer goes, I don’t know all the inside details.  It would seem from a leadership perspective, if the culture in my company was going down the tubes and I needed to do a “reboot”, getting everyone in the office for a while wouldn’t be a bad idea.  However, the long-term benefits of virtual workers make too much sense, so I wouldn’t want to make this an enduring requirement.  In today’s world, workers will put up with this for a while if they understand why it’s necessary, but not forever.  Too many other companies offer more autonomy, and employees will jump ship to gain those benefits.

That’s my take on the debate.  Where do you stand on the pros and cons of a telecommuting workforce?

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