Team Building: The Secret Sauce

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In a recent Between the Bytes podcast, Kayden Hicken talked about growing up working a large dairy farm, being involved in the family businesses, and how his fascination with IT took him from an Executech technician to General Manager.

As the general manager of the Phoenix region, Kayden focuses on three primary responsibilities:

  1. The success of customers
  2. The success of the team collectively and as individuals
  3. The overall business success of his region

We believe his insights are valuable for leaders no matter what industry they are in.

Fanatical Approach to Customer Service

Kayden cuts to the chase in discussing the importance of IT in most companies.

“Nobody goes into business because they’re really excited about firewalls and network switches. Most people go into business because they have a product or service that they want to offer. I see inefficiencies within organizations because, for them, IT is a byproduct. Security is a hot topic, of course, so there’s always this balance of maintaining security and doing things as efficiently as possible while maintaining a secure infrastructure.”

Kayden believes a common misstep businesses make when it comes to IT is not investing in the newest (or at least newer) hardware, instead limping by with programs that barely meet their evolving needs. Working with an IT service provider (like Executech) can help organizations implement systems or programs that are far more effective and efficient. Good IT providers focus on the need of the people who ultimately use the systems, putting themselves, as the technicians, in their customers’ shoes.

Some of the questions Kayden’s team asks are those that you can ask your staff regardless of what you do:

  • How can you communicate better with your customer based on what you know about them in their environment?
  • How can you better support and serve this customer based on their needs and their perspective on their business?

To answer those questions, Kayden and his team embrace the philosophy of Executech’s founder. If one client needs anything, “we handle it absolutely,” Kayden emphasizes. He notes that Executech’s mentality is “a fanatic or even maniacal approach to our service model.” Which is exactly what you ultimately need to succeed.

It’s Not About Firewalls and Network Switches

Focusing on the customer is critical to Executech’s success, but Kayden doesn’t stop there. Team development starts with whom he hires. Kayden looks at two essential measurements, the “tech check” and the “vibe check.” As long as someone has a strong aptitude for technology and the ability to learn, they can pick up needed tech skills. The hiring manager can then train and fine-tune the employee’s responsibilities on the job.

But, Kayden stresses,

“character is much more difficult to develop than the technical skill set. So, when I’m hiring, I tend to focus more on the ‘vibe check’ than on the ‘tech check.’ It’s nearly impossible to develop the type of character we look for.”

Character can’t be learned, it’s an inherent trait, and it’s what Kayden scrutinizes most carefully in his hiring process. From investing lots of time with new hires to using smack cards, which contain uplifting and powerful messages to share with others, his focus is on putting character first; it’s key to his team’s success.
Kayden’s employees spend a lot of time together during the workday, but when they can, they step away from work responsibilities and just “come together as a team.” Kayden mentions the local “grill-meister” who cooks something for the group every few weeks. It’s not unexpected that the group likes to rally around food. A meal prepared together and shared builds community and trust, and a culture that prepares them to handle challenges at work.
Kayden believes in letting the team take the lead in certain circumstances and tends to lean on the mindset of “trust but verify.” His background and technical expertise allow him to double-check the work and be in the trenches with his team members, who are “some of the best and brightest guys working together to solve problems and implement solutions.” His talented team and his ability to trust through verification are two key components of his success as a general manager. He admits that his technical background causes him to sometimes involve himself in things that he doesn’t need to, just because he can or because he’s familiar with the circumstances. He admits,

“it means there’s something else that I could have or should have been spending better time on that is getting neglected.” He advises other managers: “Make sure that you’re continuing to check yourself because even if it is just strictly out of passion that you’re involving yourself, you have to be careful not to let that come across as micromanaging or not trusting your team.”

The Secret Sauce

Looking to his peers for guidance has been a tremendous help. Executech’s general managers usually don’t go more than two or three days without engaging with each other in a chat, and they do at least a bi-weekly “gm fireside” where they come together and bring whatever circumstances they are facing to the table to work through as a group. For Kayden, that has been the most significant source of

“raw, solution-based support.” Tapping into his peers, he says, is his “super-secret power. It unlocks all kinds of knowledge and help and provides affirmation.”

That approach, coupled with the leadership’s attention to the development of their employees, is their “secret sauce.” They focus on the belief that people matter.
For Kayden, developing and fostering relationships within his organization, with his customers, and with other business leaders is key to Executech’s strength as a problem-solving company. Using their IT expertise and radical approach to customer service gives their IT support team the ability to help clients with any challenges they face, ultimately improving their business. They couldn’t do it without the relationships they built along the way.

Need help developing a flourishing IT Solutions or IT Support team? Reach out to us! We’re here to help.

This article was written from one of our Between the Bytes podcast episodes; you can find all our episodes here!

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