EY today announced the finalists for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2016 in the Southwest program. The awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. These business leaders were selected from nearly 100 nominations by a panel of independent judges.
Jaime Johnson and Tiffany Thomas will share the spotlight as Employees of the Quarter for Q1-2016!
Jaime has been with TSP since August 16th, 2012, most recently as Senior Generalist, Talent Management, reporting to Kristi Suddock.
Jaime is a key player on the Talent Management team. Rarely do we pull back the curtains to take a look at this group, but TSP Talent Management is unique in that we do not have specialists who focus on one area of HR but instead utilize a lean team of generalists who are experts in all functions. With the departure of a team member in February, Jaime welcomed the challenge to absorb duties which included our US payroll. She doesn’t hesitate to remind us of the Human side of HR. Our People truly are Jaime’s priority.
Comments about Jaime include…
“I am so proud of Jaime. She stepped up as a leader, learning a significant amount of new processes in a short time. Her first time processing payroll, along with Tiffany, resulted in a March 4th payday without issues.”
“In addition, Jaime took time for status updates, to reassure me that she could handle the extra workload and that she wanted it.”
Tiffany has been with TSP since March 27, 2014, most recently as Generalist, Talent Management, also reporting to Kristi Suddock.
Tiffany has proven time and time again that she’s a #TSProckstar. Tiffany faces challenges head on. If she doesn’t know the answer, she knows how to find it and will do so quickly. With our rapid growth, TSP keeps the challenges coming and Tiffany knocks them out of the park. TSP family members who have joined us in the last 2 years will identify Tiffany as their first contact with the company.
Comments about Tiffany include…
“I am very proud of Tiffany. She brings a renewed energy to the team and recently stepped up to learn a significant amount of new processes in a short time. Tiffany spent hours documenting and updating the HR process manual, a lifeline to our daily processes should anyone need to unexpectedly back us up.”
“When it came time for Jaime to process the March 4th payroll, Tiffany was right by her side, providing guidance from the process notes.”
Both will receive a $250.00 award along with a certificate and they will be recognized on digital signage in the TSP Corporate Office. Congratulations Jaime and Tiffany!
Recently we blogged about how some of our teams are using the KanBan productivity hack, specifically, the Calhoun team. KanBan represents one of five pillars of an even more robust system: 5S.
So what exactly is “5S”? It’s a structured program that helps implement organization and standardization in the workplace. It was developed in Japan and is a methodology developed in the 1960s and 1970s (particularly at Toyota). The 5S system is one of the techniques that enabled Just in Time manufacturing at Toyota to reduce flow times with production and allow for a quicker response times from suppliers and to customers.
The five pillars (each starting with the letter ‘s’) are derived from a list of Japanese words (also starting with ‘s’): seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke.
Let’s walk through the five pillars:
- Sort (seiri)
This step includes removing unnecessary items, trash, unwanted materials, and parts not in use. By going through this sorting process, you reduce your chance of distraction, disturbance and obstacles.
- Set in order (seiton)
Now that you’ve sorted and eliminated unnecessary materials, you’ll want to arrange the necessary materials in a way that makes sense for use. Tools and equipment should be placed near you, so they are easy to find and pick up, ultimately creating a smooth workflow.
- Shine (seiso)
We all want to work in spic and span workspaces, right? Numerous studies show that clean environments will increase productivity. This step of 5S is designed to give you some time to clean your space and make sure machinery and equipment are in top shape. Per the methodology, anyone not familiar with your environment should be able to detect problems in five seconds and within 50 feet.
- Standardize (seiketsu)
This is the portion Serena detailed in her blog post about KanBan boards. The idea is to maintain high standards and workplace organization at all times. Everything has a place, and every process has a standard. The entire team is aligned with the processes.
- Sustain (shitsuke)
This pillar involves training and discipline. Everything must be kept in working order and regular audits should be completed, to keep everything moving along correctly.
While the 5S system is highly effective in a tech or manufacturing environment, it can also be used in any workspace, and even in the home. Think about the way your space is set up – does it contribute to or hinder your productivity? If it gets in the way of you doing your job, even if that just means running your household, it might be worth applying the pillars of 5S!
(DALLAS) April 26, 2016 – TSP (Technology Service Professionals), a privately held IT services company, has announced another round of new contracts with two existing customers. The announcement celebrates the continued growth of its shared solutions group, as well as expanded relationships with its existing customers. The new and expanded contracts are expected to bring in approximately $4 million in annualized revenue.
During the first quarter of 2016, 14 new hires were added to managed services contracts in the east, west and central regions, including Dallas/Fort Worth, California, Seattle, New York, and New Jersey. Four out of the 14 new additions will serve as customer relations managers, while the rest will be data storage engineers.
TSP was approached in the summer of 2014 regarding providing maintenance renewal support, a previously non-developed service line. Excited by the opportunity, TSP put together a pilot program ultimately resulting in an entirely new service offering for TSP. The maintenance renewal team has grown from a three-person team to an eight-person team, allowing TSP to manage 600 accounts from one of its largest clients. This growth even led to TSP building out 2,000+ square feet of new space in their Dallas headquarters office in order to accommodate the current and future growth of this maintenance renewal team.
“This is not the first time we’ve innovated in order to meet the needs and desires of a valued customer, and it won’t be the last,” said Frank Gonzalez, co-founder and CEO of TSP. “Our business model has always been closely related to listening and responding to the needs of our customers, and we’re thrilled that we came up with a pilot program that continues to expand, and we look forward to providing this service to other customers.”
TSP also celebrated new contracts with a large storage and data management company based in California, also a current customer. The company recently underwent a transformation, and TSP was able to hire 15 U.S. and Canadian-based storage engineers during the month of March. Nearly overnight, ticket volumes exponentially increased, while the west, north central, south central and east regions all saw increased activity and revenue.
“There is nothing like seeing our TSP base expand with new hires and renewed contracts that span across the U.S. and Canada,” said Frank Gonzalez, co-founder and CEO of TSP. “We are happy to partner with our prestigious customer base and are grateful for their loyalty to our services and exceptional employees that provide those services every day.”
Through TSP’s shared solutions, the company partners with clients using best practices to help create custom solutions so our clients can focus on their primary business objectives. TSP’s shared solutions include maintenance services, managed services, consulting services, and project services.
TSP is a privately held information technology services company founded in 2002 by Rick Skaggs and Frank Gonzalez. The business provides top-tier services in enterprise solutions, shared solutions, and industrial automation. The Certified Minority Owned Business has more than 600 employees, and its service area includes more than 35 U.S. states as well as Canada. The company’s client portfolio includes Texas Instruments, International Paper, Hewlett-Packard, Goodyear, Georgia-Pacific, Dell, Raytheon, 3M, Hitachi, NetApp, Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Neiman Marcus. To learn more, visit http://mytsp.net.
At this point, if your recruiting process doesn’t involve social media, then you’re probably doing it wrong. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to tap into the power of social networks for recruiting purposes. There’s a lot of noise out in the social space. Cutting through that noise and using social media in an efficient way requires more than just tweeting out open jobs and scrolling through candidates’ LinkedIn profiles.
Omar Gonzalez and Tinh Nguyen, TSP’s third and fourth employees (after co-founders Rick Skaggs and Frank Gonzalez) have been with TSP from the very start. When Omar and Tinh, reflect on their career path over the years, both #TSProckstars describe their experiences as a blessing in disguise and view TSP as a second family.
TSP co-founders Rick and Frank have a special relationship with Omar and Tinh that spans back to their years working together at Honeywell. They all worked together to build a solid computer support branch, which was shut down in 2002.
Rick and Frank were asked to let go of their talented team of engineers, which included Omar and Tinh’s positions. Instead of letting their talented employees move in different directions, Rick and Frank took a risk of starting a venture of their own, developing TSP and getting Omar and Tinh their jobs back.
Both Omar and Tinh recall this time as a daunting moment in their careers.
“It was a little scary. For those that know me, I am also a huge risk-taker. I love to gamble and play craps! I explained to Rick and Frank how it was going to be dicey for me to not take a paycheck for a couple months while the company was getting its feet on the ground, but I couldn’t turn down this opportunity of starting something new,” said Omar.
For the first few months of TSP’s founding, Omar and Tinh didn’t have many work assignments.
“Rick would come in every morning and ask us – ‘Do we have a call? Do we have a call?’ For one week, Omar and I did nothing but clean and complete inventory and organized all the spare parts. We had never spent so much time together! Omar and I kept waiting for something to happen so we could work,” said Tinh.
After much (maybe too much!) cleaning, organizing, and bonding, Omar and Tinh received their first CSC ticket. Tinh remembers that the call came in after lunch, while Omar had briefly slipped out of the office (Omar remembers the call a tad differently, as they often like to joke around about who was in the room to field the call first).
Regardless, they both clearly remember that the call was from Raytheon, and it was for a 4GB hard drive for a Sun Sparc 20 system. Both Omar and Tinh will never forget their first work order and knew it was the start of something special.
“We certainly remember that it was the beginning of something special. The week after that one call, we received another call from TI for a bid, and that is where the (work) flood started,” said Omar. “From there, we continued to grow and were able to hire other engineers who had worked with us at Honeywell! Today, TSP has grown to over 600 employees.”
Omar and Tinh have continued to develop both personally and professionally with this company, and each truly value every opportunity they have been given by Rick and Frank. The two are proud to be TSP’s first non-owner employees, and even more proud of where the company is today.
“There is a lot of pressure in our day-to-day job activities, but the one objective Rick and Frank have always maintained is to take care of our customers. That has always been instilled within us both at Honeywell and now at TSP. If I had to go back to the last 14 years, I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Tinh.
Chris Skaggs, sr. director, talent & brand management of TX-based TSP, a privately held information technology services company, says the most common lies he sees relate to degrees earned and inflated GPAs. There’s also language job seekers use, like saying they attended a college versus graduating, “to dodge the bullet of having to admit they did not complete their degree,” says Skaggs.
Hire a champion of your company culture, and you could be set up for monumental success. Hire a culture naysayer, and you could be doomed.
You don’t have to look very hard to find a study that mentions “culture” as a top factor in why people are choosing to initially join and consequently stay with a company. In the coming years, a company’s culture will continue to become more and more important to a candidate’s decision making.
According to Ryan Scott, a contributor at Forbes, “When millennials are considering applying for a job…what matters most to them is the company’s work culture, involvement with causes, office environment, and attention to diversity and HR standards…Culture is everything; for Millennials.”
This will be even more important with our evolving workforce as we continue to see baby boomers retire and millennials take their places. A recent study by Ernst & Young states, “By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be comprised of millennials.”
The Impact of your Hiring on Your Culture
Culture is created and sustained by employees, so employees that you hire either add to or take away from your culture. Arguably, employees hired and/or promoted as the leaders of the organization are very important in shaping the culture. These individuals have an impactful relationship on not only how the company’s culture is perceived, but also how it’s propagated.
Unfortunately, the effects of a leader who also is a culture naysayer are sometimes felt long after that leader has exited the organization. Employees that reported to that leader have undoubtedly experienced some trickle-down effects and you will need to regain that trust to get those employees back in your culture good graces.
The Low-Hanging Fruit
We’ve all been personally guilty of taking the low-hanging fruit option, and so do many companies, especially as they grow. The important question to ask yourself is, “will the short-term gains of taking the low-hanging fruit, be worth the potential long-term disruptions?”
Take for example hiring a person with an established book of business. This scenario is great from a financial angle in that the company is going to instantly be on the receiving end of increased revenue. However, what if that person is a jerk and doesn’t fit into your company culture and share your values and visions? There is absolutely a tradeoff that deserves to be recognized.
We would argue that generally speaking, short-term gains are not worth the long-term disruptions.
Identify Culture Naysayers Early On
Those short-term gains can certainly be tempting; however, we ask that you resist the urge. Below is a short list and some key questions to ask yourself and help you recognize a culture naysayer sooner rather than later:
- How do they interact with other people at your organization?
- Do they talk about other people with you when those individuals are not around to defend themselves?
- Even in non-standard business settings (happy hours, networking events), do you want to be around that individual?
- How do you feel after leaving a meeting with them?
- Do you ever wonder if your message isn’t making it whole-heartedly to the rest of the team?
- When the person is not around, is there a different feeling and general demeanor change?
- Do you ever find yourself being “guarded” and watching what you say?
- Is there a real possibility what is being said to your face differs with what’s being said when you aren’t present?
- Do you ever feel that individual’s personal success, ambitions, and aspirations, are greater than those of the company?
- Have you become an expert in avoidance in order to not interact with the individual?
Certainly this isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive list of questions, however, these are a few questions, if answered honestly, that might save some heartache down the road. You can’t prevent every bad hire, and sometimes the low-hanging fruit option is also a culture fit – a win-win! However, always staying true to your company culture is the best solution for long-term success.
by: Chris Helms, Senior Storage Engineer, Shared Solutions
Choosing a solution for data storage used to be simpler. Storage needs were a lot more basic, data quantity was more manageable, and relational databases could handle most needs without too much trouble. Today, data is much more complex, and every size business has to narrow down exactly what kind of storage solution is best for them. This is even harder because the “best” solution is often a moving target.
Choosing storage solutions today versus the pre-NoSQL world is kind of like choosing a television before and after flat screens became the norm. You used to go to the store and choose a television. Now you have hundreds of sizes, brands, models, picture qualities, and connectivity choices. Some people love diving straight to the bottom of the specs, and others just want a TV and start to feel overwhelmed by all the options. Finding a good data solution isn’t all that different; whether you feel overwhelmed or overjoyed, the process is complicated.
Storage is complex and comes with its own dictionary that can sound like Computer Klingon to the uninitiated. Here’s a sample: linear scale performance, open source, distributed, protocol, consistency, tunable…if you need a custom data storage solution but reading that list of storage jargon made your eyes glaze over, don’t worry, we can get through this together. Some of our teams specialize in understanding exactly what service needs our customers require based on their data storage solution. No matter what level of data a client needs to manage, we help you manage a secure, appropriate solution based on your needs.
If you already speak the language and reading that insider tech jargon made you think, “Hmm, they didn’t mention masterless architecture,” our senior engineers can jump into the tech-speak rodeo with the best of them. It’s what we do.
Building storage solutions before NoSQL required a certain level of expertise, but the NoSQL era has opened lots of new doors that lead to a vast combination of data solutions which was convoluted even more with the introduction of NewSQL databases.
TSP takes pride in partnering with every client to find the ideal storage service solution, regardless of the client’s requirements or expertise. Whether clients need a data storage breakdown or want to debate the ins and outs of the most technical matters, we’re here to serve.
Around the first quarter of ever year, lots of people feel motivated to start searching for a new job. However, launching a job search can be daunting and time consuming, and plenty of people quit before they even get going. TSP is a company that believes in hiring great people and providing many opportunities to employees, and we believe in encouraging job candidates everywhere to find the best fit.
Be open to companies that might be hidden gems.
Lots of people want to apply to big companies with strong branding, and the idea makes sense. Sometimes there’s a comfort level that comes with a household name. However, a big name doesn’t mean much when it comes to employee satisfaction. When checking job boards and doing research on which companies you want to apply to, keep an eye on social media and any awards the business may have won for having a great work environment, happy employees, and perks that make the job even better. A company’s culture may be hard to spot from the outside, but taking the time to look at culture will help you narrow down those places you’ll be happier working with in the long term.
Concentrate harder on applying to fewer jobs.
The Internet has made “spray and pray” job applications easy, allowing job seekers to plaster the job market with thousands of applications as quickly as they can click. However, though algorithms and computers often choose who gets through the first round of applications, it’s not always good to write your resume to please the machines. Instead of busting out as many applications as possible, try focusing on just a handful and make them really count. Get your “resume SEO” in to show you have the right qualifications, but personalize each cover letter to prove you’re genuinely interested in both the job and the company. You might be surprised at how much time you actually end up saving—and how much better the resulting response is. Think quality, not quantity.
Only apply to jobs you’re genuinely excited about.
This rule goes hand in hand with the tip about applying to fewer jobs overall. When you blast the application world with countless resumes and don’t even remember where you applied (or why), if you do get a response, you might not even know who’s calling and your reaction will probably be bland and confused. However, if you get a response from a job posting that you couldn’t wait to hear about, you’ll be ready to engage right then and there, which will instantly set you apart a worthy candidate. Only applying to jobs you’re actually interested in will save a lot of time, plus ensure that you have plenty of enthusiasm and background knowledge when you hear back about scheduling an interview.
By: Serena O. Conour, Systems Specialist, Industrial Automation Solutions, TSP
We could all benefit from a little more organization in our lives, right? Well, with items you probably already have in your workspace or even your home office, you can redefine productivity. Some of TSP’s teams have adopted a technique that proves a dry-erase board, some post-it notes and motivation is all it takes.
Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, developed a uniquely productive tool called a Kanban board, which is Japanese for billboard. Based on supply and demand, this system helps organize the logistical flow of a process. The effectiveness of this tool became immediately evident to the world, and it has since been implemented in industries across the globe. Our team, the industrial automation solutions (IAS) business unit on-site at Calhoun, was one of the first TSP crews to implement this practice. Once we found it was extremely successful, we shared with other team members, and it has spread like wildfire!
One of the most valuable aspects of this tool is its diversity, as it can be tailored to fit almost any industry: from retail to manufacturing, and even organizing the minutia of everyday households.
As a technician, the Kanban can be utilized for things like parts management, maintenance tracking, or production.
The premise behind our task board is simple – we divide tasks into three categories: needs to be done, doing, and done. We can generate new ideas, assign them a priority and attribute them to a specific technician. Once dispersed, the technician will follow the task until it is completed and a CSR is generated and closed. The different color note cards represent a “Fix,” “Improve,” and “Maintain” structure, which helps us stay on top of tasks that aren’t necessarily applicable to the preventative maintenance system. “Improvements,” for example, would be writing procedures, building test benches, or finding other ways to improve the process. “Maintain” would include activities like: new ideas for down days that aren’t listed on the shutdown list, picking up office supplies or organizing the parts lockers. The “Fix” category is meant to note things we find on the machine that need to be repaired, or parts that have been replaced due to failure, but have not yet been fixed. Once notes are completed, we sign and date them and collect them for using on our next quarterly business review (so the customer can see how great #TSProckstars are)!
Here at Calhoun, we also use a Kanban for parts management. From the moment a part is pulled from inventory to when the replacement part is picked up from receiving, it is tracked every step of the way.
The use of Kanban for tracking parts has vastly improved our consumables replenishment and helps keep our site on top of the day-to-day parts orders that tend to fall off the radar. Tracking parts from multiple vendors, across various systems, can be time-intensive. Having a visual representation of those parts orders helps keep a timeline of where the parts are and when they are supposed to arrive.
Our note colors for this chart are based on vendors: yellow for one vendor, red for another vendor, and blue for TSP. As data on an order is received, the note is updated with order numbers, tracking info or RMA numbers. Once a part has been received, the notes are used to fill in an inventory spreadsheet at the end of the week and then discarded.
Both of these Kanbans have become invaluable tools to complement our 5S plan for creating a lean, organized workspace. The Kanban board is just one small step in the progress we are making in our Calhoun office. The Kanban board symbolizes the “standardize” pillar of the 5s system (Standardize, Sort, Shine, Set in Order, and Sustain) that we implement here at Calhoun to improve operations. Look out for a future TSP blog on the 5s system! We encourage every company to customize and implement the Kanban board in their own unique way. It has truly helped us improve productivity, stay on top of tasks, and not let anything fall off the radar for our customers.
by: Chris Hainey, Critical Teams Operations Coordinator, Enterprise Solutions, TSP
My official job title is “Critical Teams Operations Coordinator.” In other words, I help manage the engineers who are there to stop the bleeding and resurrect functionality when technology doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. My focus is on issue resolution for the end user, keeping maintenance schedules in line, implementing new systems, making sure ticket turnarounds are quick, and documenting everything so the next problem solver can find the answer even faster.
For more than ten years, I have been working in IT with companies such as Texas Instruments, Bank of America, and PepsiCo, but one thing has really made TSP stand out as a great company. TSP is stellar when it comes to choosing awesome team members, then using the people they already have to meet emerging needs.
So many companies see a need develop and automatically bring someone in from the outside to take care of it, but TSP looks inside the organization first to find the right resources and solve problems. It’s easy for us to shop for solutions in our own pool of talent because we know we already have great people who can handle new challenges and are eager to keep developing their skills.
TSP deliberately scouts employees to train for extended service, which is part of why we’re able to be so agile when it comes to meeting developing needs. Looking inside first is part of why we can start helping clients with additional services so quickly, and internal talent scouting and continual cross training is why we can cover extended PTO time for employees when they need it. We can do more with less without disrupting service to the client, and we also deliver incredible services at a lower cost than competitors.
Using what we have empowers engineers to spot other areas where we know we can make life easier for clients. We’re diverse and continually achieving updated training, so we’re more likely to notice ways we can improve the way we help clients. We put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and try to think of how we can make things better.
Every company has their own way of doing things, but TSP’s philosophy of investing in internal talent is part of what makes us special. Rather than spend more time and resources shopping outside when a need emerges, we save time and money by focusing on the talent we have. It’s a philosophy that makes employees happy and gives clients better service at a great cost.
TSP is all about simplifying technologies and processes for our clients. From preparing a solid maintenance schedule to ensuring things are fixed before they break and being there for those times an emergency does happen, we want to take headaches away. So today, we’re sharing some of our favorite Top Tech Tips that might save you a little time. They’re not rocket science, they’re just little secrets we’ve collected that most people don’t seem to know about—but would make a big difference.
Customize your online reading experience with just two keys.
Sometimes reading on the web can make you feel like Goldilocks—the text is either way too small or way to big, but rarely just right. But did you know that text size is totally in your hands? To increase or decrease text size on a Microsoft computer, press + or – plus the control key; each tap of the + or – will increase or decrease text size one increment. For Mac users, substitute the control key for the command key.
Use the space bar to scroll down a page.
When you’re reading on your desktop, forget trying to slide your fingers just so on a mac mouse or navigate that click-wheel to scroll down web pages. Instead, tap the space bar, which will move the browser down exactly one page. To go back up a page, press shift and space bar. This trick works no matter what browser or brand of computer you use.
B is for blackout.
Most of us encounter PowerPoint regularly, whether we are usually presenting or watching. PowerPoint was made to help us focus, but sometimes slides end up being distracting, and attendees look at the slides more often than the speaker. If you’re presenting and you want to turn the slide off momentarily, just press the B key to black it out. Press B again to get the slide back. For a whiteout instead of a blackout, press W.
Clean up your Mac desktop with just two clicks.
Too many desktops out there are cluttered beyond belief. Files are helter skelter, and there’s no real system of organization. To do a ten-second clean sweep on your Mac, leverage some of these instant cleanup tools. Go to the desktop and right click, then Sort By and Snap to Grid. That way, icons on the desktop will immediately sort into neat rows and columns. To further organize, right click the desktop again, click Sort By, and scroll to the dropdown item that sorts your files the way you want most. You can sort by date created, date modified, size, tags, name, or file type.
At TSP, our product is our people. We don’t write code, manufacture anything, or create a product that ships in a box—we serve clients, solve problems, and try to make life easier for the people we work with. When your business creates and sells a product, everything you do is focused on that product, but when your “product” is service, you have to stay focused on the people who are actually carrying that service out every day.
A product is simple. It is one thing and does one thing, and changes in the product are concrete. But people are complicated. Human beings have unique perspectives. We can make decisions and interact with environments and other people. Human beings can solve complex problems and offer innovative insights.
Company culture is the way a company feels to work with and the way people on the team generally treat one another. Culture is an essential component to every business, but at TSP, because people are our product, culture is paramount. The way we feel about what we do and how we interact literally affects the way we work with clients and one another, which is the heart of our business.
We don’t believe in pigeonholing people.
Many companies operate under strict systems where employees are expected to do specific jobs that uphold “the way things are done.” TSP doesn’t quite work like that. TSP is all about solutions, and in the service world, nothing makes you more cutting edge than being able to see creative ways out of a problem. That’s why we encourage proactive thinking that gets the job done better, faster, and with fewer roadblocks and headaches.
You have to trust your employees.
So many companies don’t truly trust their employees. They want people to do what they’re supposed to and remain in narrow roles. But running a business this way keeps opportunities at bay. We want to be open to new opportunities that can only be seen by the people working onsite with clients. It’s a leader’s job to set the overall vision of a business, but leaders can’t do every job within a company, so we want to be open to every employee’s perspective. Great companies trust employees to think of new ways to make things better.
You have to listen.
TSP trusts our engineers to see great opportunities, and when they bring up an idea for an improvement, we pay attention. If you don’t give people a chance to speak and really listen to what they say, people will stop innovating.
“Proactive” doesn’t necessarily mean “rogue.”
Fostering a work environment that encourages independent thinking doesn’t mean you’re creating a workplace where anything goes and people do whatever they want. So many companies fear independent thinking because they assume employees will go too far off the map and they just want things done a certain way—their way. But independent thinking doesn’t equal thinking that derails processes. When you empower people to come up with creative solutions, the team is stronger, and systems develop naturally. There is almost always a better way to do something, and extra perspectives will help you find it.
By Chris Kidd, Sr. Remote Desktop Specialist, Enterprise Solutions, TSP
Recently, someone asked me about the hardest problem I have ever had to solve at work. Since I have worked on helpdesks and desktop support for nearly 20 years, most of what I do is about solving problems, so I had a long list to choose from.
About a year ago, I was working with a client who kept getting locked out of the enterprise environment he was working on. It happened again and again, which was obviously disrupting his productivity. Sometimes this happens in enterprise environments because of the way active directories and exchange systems are set up, but the problem was so persistent that I ended up talking to the guy every day until the problem was fixed.
I did research, talked with the network guys, viewed logs, and did a lot of detective work. Finally, every possibility was whittled down until we coordinated with our local desktop team. It turned out that he was running a piece of hardware that wasn’t approved, making him an automatic hotspot, which kicked him out of the system again and again. It took a bit of dedication and creative thinking, but there is nothing like the feeling you get when you solve a problem—especially when it’s a hard one.
Get to the point and don’t waste time
My personal philosophy is about getting things done as efficiently as possible. Don’t go through unneeded steps if you can just get straight to the point and just fix the issue. I like working for TSP because the company shares that same spirit of doing business, which is to get the end user’s tech fixed and back to life as quickly as possible. I like to find a solution with the client over the phone, and if I have to take a step back and do some research, I always try to find a fix the same day.
Stay on top of what’s going on
A lot of tech service businesses are too big to respond to IT changes, which means their techs aren’t as prepared to answer questions and adapt to emerging environments. For me, TSP is a “just right” size because we’re big enough to access major resources and training tools, yet agile enough to stay on top of new technology developments and remain connected with other parts of the team. TSP is willing to take calculated risks, which means we have the flexibility to try vetted potential solutions and make breakthroughs. We’re always right on the cusp and checking out new ideas and concepts. IT is a trend business, and we have the capability to see what’s going on and respond.
Get to know the client
A lot of tech help is remote, which leads to incomplete or inappropriate solutions when clients call for help. TSP works onsite with clients, so we know how they operate. Knowing the environment means you can have a better sense of what might be causing an issue, which makes it that much easier to get to a fast, complete fix.
Another year, another infamous chili cook-off at TSP headquarters! Since our people and our company culture is a huge part of who we are as an organization, we were happy to have our most celebrated and mouthwatering internal contest, the 8th Annual Chili Cook-Off, at Dallas HQ on Friday, February 5, 2016.
Not only did the cook-off help us celebrate Super Bowl weekend early, as our corporate Dallas employees know, this notorious cook-off can get a tad competitive, providing us all with some (always welcome) Friday fun.
TSP provided the delicious fixins to enjoy with the entrant chili dishes. In the spirit of always going bigger and better and listening to our people, we even added a cornbread submission this year to enjoy along with all the chili recipes. There were a total of nine cornbread submissions and 12 chili recipes for all employees to enjoy and taste test.
All Dallas employees located at TSP’s corporate office judged the chili concoctions. After some tough competition and several helpings, Chris Skaggs received first place for his chili and Eileen Pena received first place for her cornbread. Eileen Pena also won second place for her chili recipe, while Ryan Bullock received second place for his cornbread mix. Congrats to our 2016 chili kings and queen! We’re all already craving your winning recipes again.
Winners in past years have included:
- 2009 – Omar Gonzalez
- 2010 – David Sims
- 2011 – Annette Lozuk
- 2012 – John Hills
- 2013 – Michele Benson
- 2014 – Annette Lozuk
- 2015 – Karen McElwain
While TSP employees and their fellow #TSProckstars were munching on chili and cornbread, CEO Frank Gonzalez and CFO Keith McElwain played a game of cornhole in the hallway…never a dull moment at TSP, especially on a Friday!
We truly enjoy hosting fun employee-centered events like this one, aimed at keeping morale and engagement high. As you all know, we value our positive company culture and hope you (and your hearty appetites) enjoyed this year’s cook-off. And we hope that our remote employees enjoyed following along the fun on social media. We already can’t wait until next year!
TSP loves to ensure that our #TSProckstars are healthy and happy. As part of this company goal, TSP often participates in different charitable runs in the community, including the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k Run, which we participated in last weekend, on February 6, 2016.
The Hot Chocolate Run gives runners the option to run a 5k or a 15k, and start and finish in Fair Park amongst Dallas’ biggest chocolate aficionados. As an additional push for our #TSProckstars to participate in the Hot Chocolate Run, we sponsored the entrance fees for our employees. We value the health, wellness and happiness of our people, so supporting them in this way was a no brainer for us.
One of our valued and longtime employees, Karen McElwain (our senior accounts payable specialist), decided to use the Hot Chocolate Run to improve her personal health. She used to refer to herself as un-athletic, and certainly not one to run races. Last year, Karen was moved (literally!) to join the TSP team and train to run in the Hot Chocolate run for the first time, opting for the 5k.
After completing the 5k in 2015, Karen decided to take her newfound perspective on wellness and interest in fitness, and sign up to run the 15k in 2016. She was inspired by the other runners and dedicated herself to training for this race. She even participated in other races with TSP last year (including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the Walk for Alzheimer’s) to prepare for the 15k Hot Chocolate Run. She also opted for runs and walks on her lunch breaks, creating the work-life balance that we encourage all of our people to strive for.
“Before last year, I had never entered a race in my life,” said Karen. “I chose to participate in these races with my co-workers and gained a new perspective on my health and wellness thanks to TSP and my supportive coworkers. TSP has helped me to set new goals for myself and exceed them, both in personal and professional life!”
At TSP we always encourage our #TSProckstars to participate together as a team. The runs in particular help us bond while also encouraging employee wellness and improving teamwork through experiences outside of the office. Stay tuned to learn about our next fun run or wellness initiative, and let us know if you come across one and are interested in bringing it to the attention of the Fun Committee!
“I’m not on social media.”
“I have an account, but don’t post or share any content.”
“How could I possibly have a personal brand, no one outside my family and immediate co-workers knows who I am.”
Do any of these statements ring true for you? Read on.
“Brand or be branded.” I first heard this from the incomparable J.T. O’Donnell at Talent Connect 2014 in San Francisco and it really struck a cord with me. J.T. was talking about companies building an employer or talent brand, but the same concept applies to building your personal brand. Social media is an integral piece of the branding puzzle.
Join the Social Media Revolution
Every day, millions of tweets, status updates, snaps, vines and pictures are generated out into the interwebs for anyone to consume. If you aren’t taking part in this digital conversation, you are seriously missing out.
“Where do I start?” Great question. I wish more people asked this before they created profiles on every single social media platform known to man and then did nothing with them. The number of social media platforms available today is daunting…not to mention the new lexicon you have to familiarize yourself with in order to use the platform correctly.
My advice is to start small. Become proficient at one or two platforms, build a follower base and confidence level with them, and then branch out from there. There really is a skill associated with a strong social media account, and you need time to develop those skills and get comfortable. If you try to come into the social media world “guns blazing,” you run the risk of falling on your face and more realistically getting discouraged and becoming another casualty of the inactive social media profiles graveyard.
Do yourself a favor and conduct a little research to find out what social media platform a) is best for your brand and b) will allow you to genuinely engage with the right audience for your brand.
What Social Media Platform Is Best For Your Brand?
Not every type of brand and/or business makes sense on all social media platforms. For example, if you’re a photographer, you better believe you should be on Instagram, which is known for it’s photo-centric interface, at the very least. You’re a blogger? I would strongly suggest Twitter due to the brevity the micro-blogging platform allows, as well as the ability to post hyperlinks to your original content.
Like most things in life, you have to start by defining your purpose. Are you trying to become an authoritative voice, do you want to build brand awareness, do you want to let your freak-flag fly and have a little fun?
What Is Your Purpose?
Whatever your answer, by first defining what you are trying to accomplish with social media, you can save yourself some heartache later. Identifying your purpose upfront is like figuring out a roadmap for your posts. Keeping that purpose front-of-mind allows you to post content that always stays true to your brand.
Generally speaking, when someone follows you on social media, they are expressing an interest in what you have to offer and digitally saying, “I want to know more.” Don’t let them down! The worst thing you can do is open a handful of accounts, generate some content, and then waste away to periodic and/or non-existent updates. It’s not fair to you or the followers that want to engage with you.
Starting small and focused builds the proper foundation setting you up for social media success. Happy posting, gramming, vining, tweeting, updating, videoing or whatever social media mechanism it is you discover is best for your brand.