Idea Fest 2021

It’s that time again! We recently hosted our fourth annual Idea Fest, a Shark Tank-style forum where employees present their ideas for company improvement. Presentations may focus on streamlining a particular job or task, better emulating our core values, improving the company’s bottom line, or enhancing the service we provide to our clients and partners. Instead of just identifying problems or areas that could be improved, Idea Fest focuses on solutions; presenters are expected to include a plan for implementation. We have two prizes: a $50 gift card for the best idea, and another $50 gift card for the best presentation.

Each presenter has 5-10 minutes to explain their idea, followed by a brief Q&A session with the rest of the team. At the close of Idea Fest, all attendees vote on their favorite idea and presentation, and the management team meets later to organize execution of the ideas.

This year, we had three presenters:

  • Natasha Herrera, our COO, outlined a Road Trip system for updating employees on recent company updates
  • Josh Insel, IT Engineer from Team 4, won Best Idea for his proposal of a longevity bonus
  • Rachel Roybal, our HR Director, won Best Presentation with her idea to create a “FIT Kit” welcome package for new hires

Best Idea: Longevity Bonus

Technology has the highest turnover rate of U.S. industries, so employee retention is a huge focus for most businesses. We are always looking for ways to make sure that we are providing a stable workplace with both room and support for growth. Idea Fest is one of those ways; it allows team members to share their innovations and ideas so we can all grow together.

Josh’s idea was to provide an extra incentive as a thank you to long-term employees; every additional year an employee sticks with the FIT family, they are eligible for a bonus that increases with their tenure. Color us (not at all) surprised: everybody loved this idea!

Best Presentation: New Hire Welcome Package

Keeping with the theme of employee retention and happiness, our HR Director Rachel suggested a “FIT Kit” to be sent to new hires before their start date. Especially while the bulk of the company is working remotely, a welcome kit is a great way to showcase FIT culture and help new team members get a feel for who we are.

The proposed kit would include a note from our CEO, employee testimonials, our core values, and of course, some FIT swag! One of our core values is to create a Raving Fan culture, both internally and externally, and we loved this idea on how to create raving fans out of our new hires! A big part of our team growth has been through employee referrals, underscoring the appropriateness of the Walt Disney quote Rachel used to kick off her presentation: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and again and bring their friend.”

We’re stoked to see how the FIT Kit turns out!

Runner-Up: Virtual “Road Trip”

Natasha, our COO, tied with Rachel for Best Presentation. She pitched a virtual “Company Road Trip” idea. The road trip would be set up as an online presentation of company changes and updates over the previous quarter: new hires, internal job openings, new technology or applications we’re using, exciting new goals, an update on company growth, etc.

It would also include a “road closures” list: anything that is changing or being streamlined. Teams or departments could choose to complete the road trip together, or individually. After completion, employees qualify for souvenir swag.

A central figure in this road trip idea was Fitzgerald, or Fitzy, Natasha’s proposed new mascot for internal FIT functions. We enjoyed meeting Fitzy 1.0 and who knows, maybe we’ll see him again on some FIT swag!

We love that our team is constantly looking for ways to help us improve and move forward! That innovation is one of our core values, and Idea Fest is the perfect showcase for that creativity. Thanks for tuning in!

If you want to join a fast-growing team that thrives on ideas, team input, and raving fan culture, we’d love to talk to you! Head over to our Careers page to see if we’ve got an opening that suits you.

Who’s On Your Bench? Teaching & Delegating for Growth

And we’re back for round 3 of our core values discussion! Our ‘Teach & Delegate’ core value is near and dear to our hearts. Many organizations tend to focus on formal, structured training—a rigid, chalkboard-style approach to teaching. That has its place, but we can’t neglect teaching by example—the qualitative skills team members pick up from everyday interactions with leadership. As most parents can attest, we imitate what we see rather than what we hear.

Training at the Company Level

How do you teach others to teach? To lead? The FIT team is more than halfway through a 15-week training course for our entire organization. Each Tuesday, we have a companywide roundtable where employees discuss what they learned and enjoyed, leadership shares how the training applies to our business, and we have a question-and-answer session to make sure that application is clear.

As leaders of our organization, we have the responsibility to lead by example, to show that our core values are not just standards for company conduct, but standards for our personal lives and choices. For us, this involves encouraging participation, inviting employees to share their stories and struggles and wins, how they have applied or want to apply the concepts we’re discussing.

Training at the Employee Level

Companies invest hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in training their staff. Training Magazine’s 2019 Training Industry Report found that on average, employees received 42.1 hours of training annually. However, that training is usually designed to help an employee better fulfill their existing role—not to prepare them for the next one.

At FIT, we have this concept of “being on the bench.” To move up in the company, you need to seek out mentors, learn the roles and responsibilities of the job you want, and “be on the bench” for that position. By the same token, though, you can’t move out of your position unless you have someone on your bench. This cycle of learning and teaching allows for smoother transitions and more internal hiring.

To help with this passing of the baton, our teams are recording hundreds of videos documenting our processes and knowledge across all departments, making it even easier to “be on the bench.”

Elevation Through Delegation

It’s difficult to discuss the topics of teaching and delegating separately because they’re so intrinsically linked. They also tie in with our other core values, such as constructive communication and staying humble and adaptable.

Much of the business world today is infamous for its selfish, me-first spirit: climb the corporate ladder, always look out for #1 or people will take advantage of you. Few people would actively endorse these messages, but there’s definitely a feeling of “that’s just the way it is, so to be successful, I’ve got to play by those rules.”

At FIT, we feel that we can’t be successful—as leaders, as individuals, as a company—if our staff isn’t successful. For us to do well, our employees need to do well. We want to elevate our team, because it elevates us. The same applies between employees; we will not succeed as a team if everybody isn’t working to elevate both themselves AND each other.

As an example of delegation, we recently hired a new engineer named Rance. Usually, Shane, who manages our engineering teams, would be responsible for training a new hire. However, fellow engineer Douglas (who, on a related note, won Best Idea at our Idea Fest for his plan of creating more structured mentorship for new hires) volunteered to train Rance, and Shane agreed to delegate that responsibility to him. We love when team members engage like this; it strengthens the team bond, trains employees for managerial responsibilities, and creates a sustainable cycle of growth.

What Makes Delegating Hard?

It can be difficult to delegate: maybe the job won’t get done as quickly as you’d like, or you’re worried that sharing your knowledge or responsibilities will make you irrelevant or dispensable. But if you don’t delegate, you can’t grow. If a rock climber never let go of one hold, he’d never scale the wall.

You can’t delegate if you’re worried about yourself, your position, your success. Going back to the “bench” concept, are you taking the time to train and mentor, to invest in and elevate someone else? Doing it yourself may be faster, but delegating means restraining yourself from doing a task, and allowing someone else to do it slower.

When you let go of that ego and elevate those around you by sharing your knowledge, you elevate yourself, too.

How It Benefits You

We want to elevate, not just ourselves and our team, but also our clients and partners. Our mission is to help businesses achieve their growth goals as smoothly as possible. If you’re ready to elevate your business, give us a call today at 888-339-5694 or contact us here.

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.

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.

Get in touch.

Fill out the form and our team will get
back to you as soon as we can!