Oftentimes, I hear people in management say things like, “I wish I had more workers just like [insert name here].” That’s a great compliment of the worker, but what it should be is a wakeup call for those doing the hiring. Chances are, the rest of the employees on staff are either the wrong people for the job, or they’re just not getting what they need to really excel in their positions.
In the first instance, the solution is pretty simple to figure out. Get rid of the wrong fit. For us, one bad apple working in a results-only company can really gum up the works. And the problem is pretty much immediately apparent. But no matter how long it takes to weed out the issue, someone who’s not self-motivated isn’t likely to change. So, okay. That’s the harsh truth, there. But in other instances, it’s not the person who isn’t pulling their weight, it’s their mentors. I use that word (mentors) because 1) my boss hates being called anything close to “boss” and 2) it’s really the job of management to set goals and provide their people with the resources need to get the job done.
We often talk about this at our weekly meetings when discussing new business, but don’t often get a chance to explain to prospective clients why finding companies with similar office cultures and ethics is so important to us. And it is, as our current (and former) clients will attest to.
When we first meet a prospective client, it’s usually at their place of business. That’s where we tell them about what makes our service unique (unlimited service, redundant backup systems, a “humans first” approach to support). But the conversation isn’t limited to what Ripple can do for them. It’s also our time to interview them; to find out whether or not the business relationship will be a good fit.
For a little over a two months now, Ripplers have been pairing off each week and brainstorming about ways to improve the efficiency of our processes. In addition, each pairing is assigned a particular client and asked to come up with at least one way to better their IT systems. It could be something as simple as labeling a wiring closet, or as complex as retiring a seldom used in-house server and migrating them to cloud storage to save some cash. But no matter the complexity of the solution, things get done. We know, because we’ve been using LessMeeting to keep track.
Being responsible for someone’s technical needs changes you. And it can be for the good or ill, depending on your temperament, threshold for stress, troubleshooting skills and, above all else, how you feel about people.
Some IT folks become jaded after years of doing technical support. It could be because they’ve seen and heard the same things for years and feel like they’re just spinning their wheels. Or it might come from an inability to relate to the people they’re helping. Over the years, I’ve found that what works for me is taking a moment to evaluate the experience after each case. I’ll often get off of a call and wonder: Did I just sound like a horse’s bum asking you to reboot? Did I sound jaded? continue reading
Last December, our boss, Mike Landman, introduced The Ripple Team to something he called a Dream Bond. After apologizing for the name, he handed out vouchers worth $500 to each Rippler and our significant others. In the past, our stocking stuffers have all been the latest tech innovations. But before we could boohoo about not receiving an iPad, Mike explained the significance of the name and why this gift was more than just a little loot to spend at the Apple Store. The Dream Bonds were intended as a way for us to visualize and work toward our life goals, both in and outside of Ripple.
At work, Ripplers are ass-kicking experts helping people with their IT problems. But outside the office, we’re musicians, parents, filmmakers, and more. Being in a ROWE company, we manage our own time, work where we want to, and are treated like adults. It’s a philosophy that requires us to communicate a lot with one another. So, we tend to know more about each other’s families, hobbies, and goals than the average coworker. And that’s without having to dig through any social networks. We know Curt spends a good amount of time at the gym, Alfredo can spin on his head, and Bryan Gibson is a killer cellist.
“How can I help you?”
There are a lot of skills companies look for in IT people. Smart, analytical, experienced. Windows, Cisco, Dell. The one most often overlooked is Nice.
When I started Ripple, it was in no small part because of the way IT people were acting. Busy, smug and secretive. So I set out to build an IT company with a culture of being nice, friendly and approachable. Pretty regularly people will say to me “well, that’s neat, but does it really matter?” Yes, and it’s a meaningful IT skill. Here’s how I know: continue reading