Lessons on Team Unity from the Roman Empire

Time for another behind-the-scenes peek at the inner workings of FIT Solutions! Last time we examined the first of our core values, cutting-edge expertise. Next up in the series is Team Unity.

Why is unity so important to us as an organization? How do we look for this quality in new hires? And how do we continue to foster that spirit amongst our team?

The Why

Just about every amazing accomplishment comes from a team effort. For example, the Roman Empire didn’t arise by accident; it took systematic teamwork and organization. Their army was immensely successful, in large part due to the training soldiers received to work as a unit. We have big goals at FIT, and we can’t get there without a unified team.

Another motivation for prioritizing team unity is the nature of consulting work. To be a strong IT partner, we need to know our clients’ environments inside and out, and we put a lot of effort into making informed recommendations to improve their performance. The varied knowledge and expertise of our team is a huge asset, but what happens when a team of engineers doesn’t agree on one solution? If they meet with a client, and each one is recommending a different approach or tool, they could actually undermine the client’s confidence in our ability to solve their business problems.

To make sure we act together as one unit, we have regular account management meetings to discuss different options and solutions before settling on a course of action for the team. Even if their presented option was not the one chosen, each engineer supports the final decision and does everything they can to make it successful. Think of it like a football team: even if a player would have personally chosen a different play, his team has the best chance of success if he puts his all into the directed play he is given.

The How: Part 1—In New Hires

One of the contributing causes for the fall of the Roman Empire was that legions began recruiting foreign mercenaries to keep up their numbers. Having no loyalty to the empire, the new recruits lacked the unity and cohesiveness of the original ranks, and eventually, many of them turned against Rome.

It may seem like a bit of an extreme example, but the underlying principle is key; we’ve worked really hard to build a cohesive and united team, and we want to make sure that new team members will help to strengthen that bond rather than erode it.

Many of our new hires come from employee referrals; we prefer to hire people that we know will fit our culture and values. When we don’t know an applicant, though, we conduct an exercise that asks about the candidate’s personal, professional, and financial goals. We also ask them to explain what our core values mean to them, and how they pursue those values in their own life. Often, we’ll do a role play exercise as well to help them get a better feel for what they can expect after joining our team.

The How: Part 2—In the Team

Team unity includes both unity between employees and leadership, and unity between teammates. To encourage the first, we strive for transparency, and have daily company-wide meetings to keep everybody on the same page. At those meetings, we report on wins from each department, welcome new FIT team members, share positive feedback we’ve gotten from clients, and announce work anniversaries. We also use that time for Raving Fan shoutouts, expressing appreciation for a teammate that has gone above and beyond for their team or for a client. We even have a dedicated Microsoft Teams channel for Raving Fans feedback.

Having a united team is great in theory but can be difficult in practice. When things get hard, when we have strong opposing viewpoints on service—that’s when this value gets put to the test. If we encounter a situation where we see a slip in our unity, we immediately meet to discuss what happened and how we can do better.

When FIT Solutions was started, we structured our teams in a unique way; instead of having to work their way up a help desk, clients get immediate access to a team of high-level engineers that know their environment. This has a two-fold benefit: our clients get better service, and our engineers get mentoring. Finding mentors in the IT field can be difficult, but with a team structure like ours, teammates sharpen and drive each other, working together to solve problems and expand their knowledge. This, too, contributes to team unity.

The Result

A streamlined team with one goal in mind is capable of awesome things, both internally and for our clients. We love working closely with our partners to solve business problems. If you’re ready to work with a team that is truly in sync with your environment and business goals, give us a call today at 888-339-5694 or contact us here.

“I Passed My Compliance Audit; Now What?”

It’s that time again—time for your compliance audit. Depending on your business, it might be an annual audit from a government or regulatory entity, or it may be requested by someone with whom you’re about to do business—a prospective vendor, partner or client.

What’s involved in this audit? And if you pass, does that mean you’re good to go? What’s the next step?

What Is a Compliance Audit?

A compliance audit is a set of questions designed to make sure that you are complying with industry or federal regulations. Most often, these are related to security of information. The type of information varies, but the ultimate goal is the same: making sure that your organization is taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the data that has been entrusted to you.

Audits across different industries ask different questions. A healthcare compliance audit will be looking for HIPAA metrics—steps taken to safeguard protected health information (PHI). Brokers are subject to FINRA compliance audits to ensure security in the financial industry, and organizations that contract with the government must comply with NIST requirements for cybersecurity.

Compliance audits average between 100-200 questions, most of which are highly technical and are best answered by your IT team or resource. It’s not a black-and-white pass/fail scenario, though. Since audits may vary not only by industry, but even from company to company, not every question will apply to your business. For example, a healthcare organization may send a HIPAA compliance audit to a potential vendor, but since the vendor doesn’t handle any PHI, many of the questions won’t apply. This doesn’t mean that the two can’t do business together; rather, it supports an informed discussion about their partnership.

If I Passed, That Means I’m Secure, Right?

Not exactly. As Anthony, one of our FIT engineers, explains, it’s just a first step. Compliance audits are concerned with different aspects of your business and environment, but not EVERY aspect. Some areas of your network are not included, but could still pose a vulnerability in your security.

Plus, most audit questions are not a simple pass/fail; you may have passed, but with the equivalent of a C. Think of your compliance audit as a report card—an assessment of where you’re at, and where you can improve. Once you identify those areas, what do you do about them?

Next Steps

Your compliance audit helps you develop a TBP, or Technology Business Plan, for what adjustments or improvements your IT environment needs over the next 3-24 months. Areas that barely passed or didn’t pass will be the primary areas of focus for your IT team, and can spur projects or other resolutions to help strengthen and streamline your network.

Since the main focus of compliance audits is security, take a good look at the cybersecurity measures you have in place. New threats emerge every day, so it takes a proactive approach and constant vigilance to counter attacks and defend against new vulnerabilities and exploits.

At FIT Solutions, we are your go-to IT resource. We complete compliance audits for you and make recommendations based on the results. We also help prepare your environment to meet and repel cyberattacks. Give us a call today at 888-339-5694 or contact info@fitsolutions.biz to see what elite IT service is like.

How to Become Unstoppable

In a world where the technology landscape is constantly changing, how do you stay ahead of the curve? You’ve got to change with it.

From a business perspective, this means continuing to learn and adapt, taking in new information and figuring out better ways to solve business problems.

At FIT, maintaining cutting-edge expertise is one of our seven core values—the guiding principles that shape our actions as a company. We’ll be delving into each of these values over the next several weeks:

  • Cutting-Edge Expertise
  • Humble & Adaptable
  • Elite Raving Fan Culture
  • Constructive Communication
  • Team Unity
  • Hard Work
  • Teach & Delegate

As an MSP, we serve as the IT support system for our clients. To do so while providing elite service requires a high level of technical excellence and knowledge. Our clients have widely varying IT environments, with different needs and toolsets, so we need to be broad and progressive in building our knowledge base. The more we learn, the more we can accomplish for our clients.

So how can maintaining cutting-edge expertise make you unstoppable?

Forming an Unstoppable Team

During the hiring process, we have a rigorous standard for experience, and place a high value on being an expert or highly capable technician. Some of this comes with on-the-job training, and some of it is a base requirement to join the FIT team.

To find the right mix, we look for particular qualities in job applicants as well as quantifiable data, like certifications. We want people who are humble and eager to learn, because teachability coupled with experience is an unstoppable force.

How Do We Maintain This Momentum?

The typical ramp-up for any company’s new hire is a heavily front-loaded training schedule, which tapers off as they get comfortable with their role and responsibilities. How do we keep an intense focus on maintaining and increasing expertise while balancing the needs of the day-to-day work?

We put a strong emphasis on continuous learning, with semiweekly engineer roundtables and monthly training sessions. In the pre-COVID-19 era, we hosted lunch-and-learns every month or two, inviting partners or engineers to present on particular topics. We leverage our partnerships with vendors to get training and updates on their tools until we know it as well as or better than they do.

We also make extensive use of LinkedIn Learning; our engagement falls in the 75th percentile of companies that use this platform. Our Learning paths are a combination of management-chosen and self-driven, and feature both the videos already offered by the platform as well as how-to and educational videos put together by our own team. It’s no surprise that computer networking and network administration are among our top skills learned, but the most popular programs actually center on communication, emotional intelligence and teamwork!

Our client base covers a range of industries, from healthcare to finance to manufacturing to recreation, and each industry comes with its own language of sorts. To be a true partner and actively contribute towards achieving their business goals, we need to be able to speak the lingo.  So some of our trainings are industry-specific, helping our engineers communicate effectively with our end-users and client contacts.

How Cutting-Edge Expertise Benefits You

Every single minute there are new things to learn. To stop is to stagnate. If you don’t prioritize learning and growth, you’ve basically stopped.

We see so many companies that are using obsolete systems because they ‘get the job done,’ without fully grasping how much time or revenue is wasted on inefficiencies. At FIT, we’re always working to learn what’s new and how to better solve business problems. We love getting to put that drive to work for you—searching out inefficiencies, implementing new solutions, and streamlining your environment until it hums.

Ready to work with a team of cutting-edge experts? Give us a call today at 888-339-5694.

Welcome to Idea Fest 2020!

We recently held our third annual Idea Fest, where employees develop and present ideas on how we can improve. These can revolve around how to improve your job, the whole company, or the service that we provide to clients. No idea is too small. We have two prizes: a $25 gift card for the best idea, and another $25 gift card for the best presentation.

Ideas are presented Shark Tank-style, where each presenter has the floor for 5-10 minutes, followed by a short Q&A session with other team members. The management team meets later to discuss the best ideas, decide the winners, and organize implementation of the winning ideas.

Idea Fest focuses on not just identifying problems or areas for improvement, but actually proposing solutions. Presentations are expected to include a plan for execution and the anticipated results.

This year, we had six presentations. David Gadson, our Procurement Manager, won Best Presentation for his idea for adding an Ultimate Team rating. Douglas Stanley, one of our remote engineers, won Best Idea for his proposed buddy system for improving new employee onboardings.

The FIT Ultimate Team

Accountability is really important to us: accountability to our customers, to our company, but also to each other as peers and teammates. David’s idea is a peer-to-peer rating system that focuses on how we are doing on our core values.

For example, one of our core values is Constructive Communication. So how are we doing? Do our team members have a hard time getting a hold of us to answer questions? Or are we quick to respond to questions? Is our speech negative or complaining? Or are we making an effort to be positive and upbuilding? Are we actively pursuing or working towards new certifications or improving our skills?

The idea was inspired by FIFA’s Ultimate Team rating system, created by EA Sports. Our version would be a similar system, ranking from 1 to 99 (no one is a zero, and no one is perfect), and would give you an honest, broad-reaching opinion on your work abilities and habits. It gives us something we can work on, and keeps us accountable, both to ourselves and to each other.

Ratings would be anonymous and would not be tied to salary, bonuses, or performance reviews. The Ultimate Team rankings are meant to help us keep creating and refining a Raving Fan culture.

The concluding slide of David’s presentation (in which he photoshopped various team members into the Avengers) definitely played a part in his winning the Best Presentation award…

New Onboarding Buddy System

Since we serve clients all over the nation, a decent chunk of our team work remotely (even before the pandemic). However, starting a new job remotely presents some unique challenges. Douglas Stanley started his presentation by asking our remote engineers tied in for an honest rating of their onboarding experience, from 1-10. Suffice it to say, the average was not where we need it to be. We have some work to do!

There’s a certain degree of “out of sight, out of mind” for remote teammates that you don’t see in the office every day, especially in a company with 50+ employees. For those new hires, it can take even longer for them to truly feel like part of our FIT family. They don’t know who to go to with questions, and their new team is busy taking care of clients.

Douglas’ idea was a buddy system that assigns new hires to a single point of contact for the first 30 days. This mentor will walk them through our tools and procedures, have multiple daily check-ins, and be their go-to person for questions. They’ll also be available during the new hire’s first on-call shift.

The entire team loved this idea! Creating Raving Fans is one of our core values, and we want to give our team members the same Raving Fan service that we give to our clients.

The Fest Continues

Our other presenters proposed a company intranet, assigning product champions to develop a repository of shareable expertise on our various tools, a managed print solutions program, and a way to improve client interactions. We are exploring ways to implement some of these soon as well!

Hope you enjoyed this year’s Idea Fest as much as we did!

If you’d like to work with a team that welcomes innovation and creativity, we’d love to talk to you. Reach out to us at info@fitsolutions.biz.

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