People Performance Tuning

TuningWe spend lots of time and money tuning, upgrading, improving, and replacing our servers, networks, and applications. Are these your most important assets? Of course not. Leaders universally believe that employees are our greatest assets. But do our actions match our beliefs? How much time do we spend tuning, upgrading, improving, and replacing the people who make up our organizations?

A more comfortable and common place for the performance improvement discussion to be centered is on “tuning and improving” tactics such as training, developmental assignments, mentoring, and team building. Undoubtedly these types of investments are necessary to ensure that people in your organization are reaching for and achieving their highest potential.

An equally important component of performance improvement is one that is often ignored – “upgrading and replacing” your most important assets. Procrastinating or ignoring troubling performance indicators on your production server or network may cost you big bucks and inflict major headaches. Why then do we ignore troubling performance indicators among members of our team?

I believe it is because we hate confrontation. In fact, many leaders would rather wait until there is ample cause for an employee termination than deal with the time and discomfort of focusing on performance improvement. The problem with this procrastination is two-fold: (1) it sucks the life out of a workplace environment where achievers are shouldering the burden of underachievers, and (2) it presupposes that people cannot or will not improve their performance when confronted.

My experience is that, in fact, substandard performance often will not improve when confronted. But sometimes it will. And what we do not confront, we validate. Since most substandard performance does not lead to employment termination, we leave it unchecked in our workplace. The result is not pretty.

The cornerstone of a high performance culture is virtually unfiltered performance feedback. Tell your top performers that they make your work life a beautiful thing! Reward and recognize their contribution. But also do not fail to give the stars and the non-stars an opportunity to know and correct their shortfalls. We must have the courage to confront destructive behaviors and attitudes. People are too important not to do this.

The company I work for is known as a great place to work, but this does not mean it is a great place for everyone. We hold the performance bar high, and we hold each other accountable. We have some great success stories of problem performance being addressed and corrected. We can also point to instances where underachievers in our organization have been confronted and they have self-elected to leave for another environment that better fits their strengths.

And, we fire people. We do so with the highest regard for the value of the person impacted, and we do so after candid communication and collaboration about the need for and the opportunity to improve. We believe strongly that the best thing we can do for our fellow employee-owners is to be sure that those who are not pulling their weight are challenged to change. If they can’t or won’t change, the best thing for all parties is to part ways.

If feedback is the breakfast of champions, I fear that many in today’s workplace are malnourished. If your greatest assets are in need of tuning, upgrading, improving, or replacing — among your peers or within the team you lead — who are you doing a favor by not taking action?

Larry May, President


Spotlight On…

Employee Owner: Brad Mathis

BradMathisBrad brings over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology and Security fields to Keller Schroeder. His experience encompasses several diverse industries, including, but not limited to, health care and financial services. From 2004 to 2011, Brad served as Vice President and Corporate Network Security Manager, as well as Network Information Security Officer, for Old National Bank. Prior to that, he provided IT consulting services for a leading Wall Street financial management company, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, as well as several smaller companies. For several years before that, he managed wide area network and security infrastructure services for a large multi-location health care organization.

He serves on the Program Advisory Committee for ITT Tech’s School of Information Technology. Brad recently completed a term on the state board of directors for the Indiana InfraGard Members Alliance; a private sector partnership with the FBI. He is actively involved with the Rotary Club of Warrick County and has held multiple leadership positions with them, including club President. Brad also volunteers his time to present (ISC)2’s Safe & Secure Online, a program that stresses Cyber Safety to area youth. In 2009, Brad was a guest speaker at the SANS Log Management Summit in Washington, D.C.

Brad and his wife Lisa will be celebrating 26 years of marriage in 2011. An import from Southern Illinois, Brad has lived in the Evansville area since 1985. Their 22 year old daughter, Brittany, will be getting married in the fall. She will be graduating from USI in the spring with a Masters in Occupational Therapy. Their twin sons, Nick and Zack, 19, are freshman Engineering students at USI.

Contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager to learn more about Brad and how you can leverage his experience and skills to the benefit of your organization.


WebManage: Track | Organize | Control

– Gina Minnette, Sr. Account Manager

Everyone has hardware and software maintenance contracts. They’re one of the necessary evils in the IT world. Have you ever called into a manufacturer’s support line for parts delivery or technical help only to find out that you don’t have coverage? Later, you discover the hardware or software maintenance agreement was inadvertently allowed to expire. If so, you are certainly not the first to have this happen. Well, there’s good news. Help is here and its name is WebManageSM.

WebManage WebManageSM is a FREE tool provided by Keller Schroeder that is designed to help you keep track of both hardware and software support agreements and contracts. Whether your need is hardware focused around equipment such as printers, servers, switches, routers, and firewalls OR is software focused for items such as licensing or updates, WebManageSM can help you track the start and end dates of agreements (including tracking end of life equipment) and even allow you to create and send an RMA request all from one single view. Your personalized WebManageSM view can be sorted by a variety of key criteria such as Device Type, Device Name, Physical Location, Contract Number, Equipment Type, Expiration Date or Serial Number. In addition, searching for a particular item is made easier by keying in only a partial search string. You can even export your contracts and agreements directly into Microsoft Excel for further sorting and planning.

WebManageSM proactively helps you manage your upcoming expiration dates for contracts and agreements by sending email alerts to you and other selected members of your team several weeks in advance to allow you ample time for renewal to maintain consistent coverage. This FREE tool from Keller Schroeder is accessed by secured web browser over the Internet to a secure data repository. Best of all, WebManageSM is available for use regardless of where you purchased the hardware or software item.

So, if you’re responsible for ensuring hardware or software is covered by maintenance and support, consider WebManageSM as your tool of choice to help “track it, organize it, and control it!”

To learn more about how this FREE tool might benefit your environment, please contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager for more information or a demonstration.


“Oh Syn-Apps”

– Tim Deem, Sr. Network Consultant

As a Cisco Advanced Unified Communications (UC) certified partner, our implementations of UC solutions will often include additional applications, appliances and other approved products that provide specific features or functions not in the UC solution itself in order to enhance the client’s benefits and satisfaction.


One such partner is Syn-Apps. Their specific niche includes hardware and software most easily classified as notification within the world of Unified Communications. Syn-Apps provides solutions that integrate with the Cisco UC environment in order to enhance and extend notification capabilities that can be deployed in any industry.

Syn-Apps software applications can be installed on client servers, however, we recommend the Syn-300/Syn-600 appliances, which come pre-loaded, ready for configuration and deployment. These appliances work beautifully and provide a means to ensure dedicated resources for the notification applications. As part of a Cisco UC solution, we recently successfully deployed the SA-Announce application. As a self-contained appliance, it met the need to provide a mechanism of paging over both Cisco IP phones and an existing overhead paging system, while simultaneously minimizing training efforts by providing a simple end user interface.

In addition, the application allows for additional methods of notification such as integrating with a Facebook account (advantageous for universities), relaying Amber alerts, and even streaming the National Weather Service to the phones’ XML display. Complimenting their applications, Syn-Apps can also provide basic & two way IP speakers, clock kits, and more.

To learn more about the Syn-Apps solutions, including a demonstration, contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager.