The Waiting Game


So it’s now a few months since we submitted our proposal to the government. We have submitted the proposal, been brought in for a 3 hour oral presentation, been asked follow up questions and then………*crickets*. We have literally heard NOTHING and it is consuming us.

A few days ago we called because work is scheduled to begin on October 1st and we were told COB Tuesday. That was now 2 days ago and still …NOTHING. We are at the mercy of the client and we are literally sitting around hitting refresh on our email and checking the fax machine non stop.

We have a list of items we want to tackle next but they are all on hold until we hear the decision on this award. We don’t want to start all these new projects only to have to put them all on hold if we find out we somehow won this thing. It’s actually amazing how our mindsets have changed throughout the process. What started with us just “tossing our hat into the ring” has now turned to us sitting by thinking we may actually somehow win. It’s actually pretty exciting for us and shows us how far we have come since our miserable failed attempt at a prime contract 3 years ago. Our documents have improved so much, our maturity as an organization has improved so much and apparently the clients are noticing since we have made it this far. So now back to waiting …..and waiting….

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Geoff is the CEO of integrateIT (http://www.integrateit.net). integrateIT strives to provide innovative solutions to organizations within the public and private sectors in the Washington, DC metro area and beyond. We aim to supply clients with qualified, energetic resources that foster both a winning team attitude and a wealth of technical and management expertise. integrateIT strives to add value to clients by successfully completing projects within budget, scope, and schedule requirements.

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Performance Reviews – Overkill or Necessity


Now in our 8th year of doing business, one of the topics we have always struggled with is what form of performance appraisal system is required in order to meet our needs, our employees needs, but also not be overkill or too much of a burden on our staff that sometimes join a small company in order to get away from bureaucracy like this.

Let’s face it, we all hate performance reviews. Employees hate filling them out, customers hate providing feedback for them, managers hate taking the time to write them, and nobody likes to be told what they are not good at. That being said, my opinion is that it is critical to have some form of a review system in place because it is not fair to an employee that is looking for feedback on how they are doing on their job to not receive it. It’s also not wise for us to let an employee flounder in their job if we feel we can help them improve not only their work experience but also that of their customers.

We have tried it all. Mid Cycle reviews, Year end Reviews, Informal Reviews, Virtual Reviews. This year I think we have finally found what will work for us. A very simple year end review that requires the employee to rate themselves on a few of our core competencies, followed by input that is provided by the client, and then management input that will culminate with an in person review between the manager and the employee.

My thought on it is that if you are going to have a performance review program than it should serve the purpose that it is in place for. It needs to be honest as tough as that may be at times. In the past we used to sugar coat things and I think it was a disservice to our staff. Reviews aren’t meant to just tell the employee what they are good at. If you can’t be honest and tell your employees what they need to improve upon, your customer eventually will and at that point it may be too late. Our goal this year in writing our reviews is to give all staff members something that is actionable for them to improve upon. This doesn’t by any means think they are not good at their jobs. It just means that they are not perfect and that we are trying to help them improve themselves and in doing so also improve our company reputation with our clients.

I know that many of our staff hate the fact that we require this review and that they are forced to rank themselves and then sit through a review with their manager. In all honesty, I know that our management doesn’t really like having to do them either. After a few years of back and forth on this topic though, I think that we have come to the realization that it is our duty as management to provide our staff with an honest and useful review so that they are never blindsided by this information after it is too late.

What kind of feedback do you provide to your staff?

Why did I start my Own Company?


Owning my own business was something I always wanted to do. Of course when I was in my pre teen years I had those responses of “I want to be a pro soccer player” when asked what I want to be when I grow up. But once I hit junior high and high school it became my goal to be a business owner (note: I did actually realize my dream of becoming a pro soccer player but quickly learned that I was not going to be able to survive long being paid $200 a game).

When I was a kid I can still recall memories of me drawing “business plans” in pads (my mom probably still has some of them at her house). One specific example was when I used to work at a nursery on weekends that a family friend owned. One of the locations was nothing more than a roadside stand that sold plants and flats of flowers. Some weekends the owner, Joe, used to leave me there to “run” it while he drove off to place his horse racing bets for the day. As I sat there I would think to myself, if I ran this place I would fix it up, I’d knock down that wall, I’d put some more signs up in the road to market it better. I would then go home and write all this down in my pad. Working at this small business showed me what it took to run a business (it also showed me how to understand the racing forms!) Now that I think back on it, it was a little weird but nevertheless this was something I feel I was meant to do for a long time now. When I was recruited for college, soccer coaches would ask me what I was looking for in a school and my response was always “I want to play soccer and learn how to start a business”.

I feel that it takes a special breed of person to start and run their own business. An entrepreneurs mind works differently than a regular persons. Just like a developers mind works differently than a managers mind, a doctors mind works differently than someone not cut out to be a doctor etc. When someone describes a situation that they are dealing with in their life or job many people react by thinking how to get around it, or deal with it etc. My mind immediately thinks, I wonder if there is a business opportunity in this. Is this a sickness? Probably…but it’s how my mind works.

I was once asked by a client that I had worked for to come back and run a program for her. This was it, in my mind this was my chance to start my own company. I asked her if I could come back and work for her as my own company as opposed to the company I currently worked for. She told me she could care less who I worked for, she wanted ME not the company I worked for. At the time I was fortunate that Katie had a great job and we had the flexibility that if my venture failed we would not starve or be unable to pay our bills. Others are not so lucky. These are the people I admire most in business. The people that are so passionate about their ideas that they are willing to risk it all to see their idea come to fruition. Are some of them crazy? Absolutely. But many people thought Steve Jobs was crazy, and Bill Gates was crazy..and the list goes on and on.

I always dreamed that I would think of some awesome product and then sell it to the world. Well, as I got older I figured out that you don’t necessarily HAVE to think of a product that will change the world in order to own a successful business. All you need is an idea and the drive to make it happen. Ask people for advice that you trust. At the time I didn’t know anyone that owned their own business so my first few years were spent flying by the seat of my pants and learning on the job. It definitely added to the rush but it’s also probably what started my high blood pressure issues!

Is owning a business for everyone? Of course not. But if you think it is for you and it’s something you always wanted to do my advice to you is…Go for it! The other advice I can offer is that if you aren’t sure it is for you and you aren’t really positive that you want to do it, then DON’T. Without the passion for running a company there is just no way it will succeed because you won’t put the necessary time in to make it succeed. If you like the idea of running a small business but don’t think you have the flexibility or the knowledge to start one, then go work for one and see first hand what it takes to run one. You can often get involved with that small company and learn on the job how it runs.

So there you have it. A little insight into the warped mind that is Geoff Keller and how integrateIT came to be.