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Core Values: Selflessness

Telcion has four core values and behaviors:

• Selflessness – Team before self.
Work Ethic – Do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Transparency – Open and honest communication about everything.
Curiosity – A willingness to ask “why?” with a desire to learn new things.

These core values have been tested over many years and they embody Telcion’s culture. Let’s talk through the core value of selflessness and why it’s important.

There are two aspects we must consider when thinking of a core value. The first is the meaning of the value, and the second is the behavior that we associate it.

What does it mean to be selfless? Selflessness is defined as being concerned “more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.”

We all have things that we want and there is nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to operating on a team, no one likes working with someone who doesn’t put the team’s goals first.

There is an underlying social commitment that we make when we join a team. We expect that everyone on the team wants what’s best for the team and will do anything to help it succeed. We expect team members to be available when we need to get information or exchange ideas. When a team member does not fulfill this social contract, it creates dysfunction and the team is not able to operate at full capacity.

Alternatively, when a team member knows that others are going to honor the social contract—that it’s not just lip service but observable on a daily basis—this creates trust. When trust exists, the team is able to operate at a high level and reach its goals.

The funny part about all of this is that when we put the needs of others before our own, our needs will be met as well. It is a very fulfilling process for the whole team. But when you don’t put others before yourself, you make your life much harder. People don’t want to work with you, don’t want to share information with you, and will generally keep you at arms length. This is not a fun way to work.

The value of team before self also applies outside of our immediate team. Most of us are members of multiple teams—the largest being the company as a whole. We need to always be thinking about what is in the company's best interest.

Selflessness also applies when partnering with clients. Each time we work with a client we have the opportunity to exhibit selfless behavior. This demonstrates that we have their best interests in mind, creating trust and benefitting both of us.

At Telcion, we value those who believe in exhibiting selflessness. We know that when all of our team members are practicing selflessness we can operate at the highest level. People who aren't displaying this value get feedback from the team to help them improve. None of us is perfect, and we all have bad days sometimes. But selfishness can’t be a consistent behavior. We expect that our team members show a commitment to selflessness that is evident in their behavior.

If your team has a hard time trusting each other, I would recommend reading “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Pactrick Lencioni. We have taught the principles from this book to our team several times. Our managers are expected to adopt them when leading their individual teams. It is an excellent example of how teams should operate and the causes behind why teams become dysfunctional. Patrick explains through a compelling story that you will certainly relate with.

[This article was contributed by Lance Reid, Telcion's CEO.]

How We Use Cisco WebEx Teams: Part 1

Cisco Webex Teams is a collaboration app that combines messaging, content sharing, calling, and video conferencing all in one place. Every person at Telcion uses it daily and we’ve found it to be an invaluable tool. In this series, we’ll highlight our favorite uses and features.

Chat

Chat is the most basic and frequently used feature of WebEx Teams. When you first start using Webex Teams, you can add coworkers to your list of contacts and immediately begin messaging with them. Gone are the days of long email threads between a dozen people trying to communicate in real time, clogging up your inbox and preventing you from seeing the really important emails. (Can you relate?)

WebEx Teams is designed for real time communication. One scenario where this is particularly useful is if you are in a meeting and need to ask a coworker a question about an immediate issue being discussed. Rather than have to tell someone in the meeting that you’ll get back to them later, you can reach out to a coworker through chat and get the question answered while your meeting continues. 

Availability

WebEx Teams is also useful for telling people your current availability and seeing the availability of your coworkers.  Are you active?  Do not disturb? Out of office?  Or just at lunch?  Any of these are statuses you can set.  Out of office will show as soon as you turn on automatic replies in your email client (yes, WebEx Teams and email talk to each other for scheduling purposes).

Screen Sharing

If you’ve used an instant messaging client before, such as Cisco Jabber, you might already be used to a screen sharing feature. If you are new to collaboration, this is one of the big benefits. 

The ability to share your screen makes collaborating so much easier. Gone are the days of trying to describe to someone else what you’re seeing. We often use this feature to review and edit documents in real time. Any person in a meeting (not just the host) can share a document on their screen and everyone participating can see it. This works with just two people or a whole team.

Screen sharing is also useful for training. Whenever you need to show someone how to accomplish a task on their computer in a specific application, you can have them share their screen while you guide them through the process.

Not a day goes by in our office where we don’t use these kinds of features, and we often wonder what we did without them.

Experiencing Poor Network Performance?

There are many reasons users can have a poor application experience. Whether with voice, email, a custom database application, or an app in the cloud, when user experience is poor it reflects on IT. When IT receives complaints, it’s important to track down the issue and resolve it. The question is where is the problem? Is it the application itself? The server it’s running on? Is it a network issue? Is it on our network, the internet, or a 3rd party vendor’s network? Finding the source of the problem can be difficult.

However, one area that is often overlooked is the cabling infrastructure. If you are experiencing performance issues across a variety of applications, it’s time to look at your cabling. This is foundational. If it’s not up to spec, it will cause issues up the stack to your applications and result in poor user experience.

Here are a few areas to consider:

Incorrect Type of Cabling

If you’ve installed Cat5e, Cat6, or Cat6a, it’s important to use the same components all the way through. Mixing and matching components will cause the entire infrastructure to operate at the lowest common denominator. For example, if you install Cat6a cable but use Cat5e jacks, then the best performance you can expect is what Cat5e offers. This is a critical factor if you are trying to go 10gig or utilize higher PoE wattage.

Network equipment can be very forgiving at times and even allow you to configure a port for higher speeds though the cable may not be capable of it. You’ll see this show up with thousands of errors on the given port.

Improper Cable Distance

For copper cabling, the typical distance for most applications is 100m, or about 326ft. If the cable exceeds this length, it is out of spec. It’s not unusual to transmit some data over the cable and have it appear to be working. But when loaded up it starts to degrade, and you’ll see lots of packet corruption.

For fiber cabling, the distance limitations vary depending on the type of fiber (multi-mode variations or single-mode) and what bandwidth we configure for. Again, network equipment can be forgiving at times and allow higher bandwidth configurations, even though the transmissions have errors. Too many errors will lead to poor overall performance of any application traversing the cable.

Vendor Compatibility Issues

It is important to use the same manufacturer for all termination components within your cabling infrastructure, and the manufacturer of these components should indicate their compatibility with your chosen copper wire or fiber manufacturer. This means the jacks or fiber connectors that are used need to be from the same vendor, such as Panduit. If the components are inconsistent, the system performance will be inconsistent.

Incompatible Patch Cords

We often see companies invest heavily on cabling infrastructure and do everything right except the patch cords, opting for whatever vendor offers the cheapest cables. This leads to the same compatibility issues mentioned previously. Invest in high-quality patch cables from the same vendor as your jacks to ensure high quality from end to end.

Improper Installation

Ensuring that your installer is properly trained and certified to work with the cabling system you select is another factor in avoiding network performance problems. If installers are not trained correctly, then chances are high that your cabling system will not be installed correctly either. This could lead to excessive bending, improper pulling, cable installed too close to noise sources (heavy machinery, motors, etc.) or cable that is not terminated or polished correctly. Lack of attention to detail on the front end leads to expensive, time-consuming problems down the road.

Troubleshooting Network Performance Issues

If you believe you have a network performance issue that is caused by cabling or you want to be certain that your cabling was installed correctly and rule it out as the problem, consider having your cabling infrastructure re-certified.

A certified installer will come to your location and test every cable on the system. The installer will use a certified testing device, such as a Fluke cable analyzer or OTDR, and each cable will be given a pass or fail grade. Any cables that fail can then be remediated and retested. When completed, you will have a report that shows all cables are certified to meet specific specifications. Then the only requirement is that the network equipment is configured to not exceed those specifications (i.e. don’t run 10gig on a 1gig cable or try to draw more power for a device than the cable can handle).

Summary

Use the same vendor for all the components. Don’t operate the network at a higher capacity than what the cable is certified for, even if the network equipment will let you. Make sure the cabling plant has been tested and certified.

Follow these tips, and you’ll sleep better knowing your cabling infrastructure is solid.