Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Three Kinds of Knowledge / Three Kinds of Training

Business Training, Technical Training, and . . .

A few weeks ago, I posted a note in my Small Biz Thoughts newsletter that got a huge response. You never know what will hit home for people.

I've been in the "training" business for a long time. Way back at the beginning, I decided to focus on business training rather than technical training. This blog has been 99% business focused from day one (in 2006). 

The training we think about in IT tends to be either focused on specific technologies or on business processes. Technical training often comes from, or is approved by, makers of hardware and software. And, if a product is popular enough, third parties provide training as well.

Business focused training tends to be provided by authors and coaches. I offer these services, as do my friends James Kernan, Rayanne Buchianico, and many others. And while these sometimes focus on getting the most from a tool or program, the focus is mostly on the processes that make businesses successful.

The third kind of training is harder to teach. It's all about the details of HOW you do what you do. It's about the care and attention you bring to a job. Let me give an example.

One time, I had a technician who has to be described as a technical genius. I'll call him Emil because I've never had a tech with that name. He could be sent on any job and he'd figure it out. Hardware, software, and even some coding. He was a fast learner and a fast worker. He saw the heart of a problem faster than anyone. And he fixed things right the first time. When he walked away, everything just worked.

But Emil lacked an important skill that eventually led to him seeking happiness with another company: He did not take a professional approach to his work. He would install a brand new rack of brand new equipment and it would look messy and horrible. No thought was given to the order of items in the rack. The wiring always looked like the "before" picture of a meme.

Emil took no pride in his work product. He took pride in his technical prowess, speed, and accuracy. But if the job looked ugly and amateurish, he did not care. To him, these aesthetic elements were irrelevant.

If Emil was a mechanic, there would be grease on the car seats and greasy fingerprints all over the fenders. If he was an electrician, you'd find gaps between the light switch and the hole in the wall. No attention to detail, no pride in workmanship, and no appreciation for the little things.

I'm not sure what you call the training that results in appreciating the details and doing things well. All professions have this training, but it's rarely separate from other training or offered stand-alone. It's built into the "little tips" you get along the way. It's what professionals do.

One time, Emil went to an important client's office to install a new piece of (expensive) equipment. When he left, we got a call that basically amounted to, "I never want him in my office again." Everything worked perfectly. Technically, it was correct. But it was ugly. He had not put attention on how the job looked when it was done. Obviously, we sent out another tech to clean up after the technical genius.

Aesthetics matter. Pride in work matters. The little things matter.

Some people think I'm a control freak (I really am not) because I have an SOP (standard operating procedure) for everything. But all those little SOPs matter because the little things matter. For example, as soon as I discovered white network cables, that what we put in client offices. Unless they wanted a technical "look" - which few did. Most offices have white and off-white walls. Why should their professional office be messed up with ugly blue or gray cables?

Similarly, I prefer Velcro over zip ties for one important reason: Something's going to change. A wire will be removed. A wire will be added. With zip ties, the result will either be ugly or involve a massive amount of rework.

The point is: YOU have a long list of these "little things" that you train your technicians on. None of them make the network work faster. But they give the technician pride in work while keeping the client from seeing your messiness every day at work.

Your brand is represented in everything you do - including the little things.

When a client invests in your company, they deserve a job that looks professional. When you spend money, you want to take pride in the result. So do your clients. And, as a rule, we expect more-senior technicians to do a better job of this than less-senior technicians.

Where does this third kind of training come from (whatever it's called)? It comes from the apprenticeship process - even when there's no formal apprentice program. It comes from the never-ending commentary of senior techs saying, "Pick up after yourself," or giving tips about how we do things around here.

And it comes from taking pride in your work! Ultimately it comes from a belief that there's a right way and a wrong way to do things . . . and WE do things the right way.

What do you say when you see greasy fingerprints on the fender or misaligned switch covers? You probably say, "Well, that's what I get for hiring an amateur." (Or saving money.) No client should ever have this reaction to work done by your company!

Bottom line: You need to make attention to the "small stuff" part of your company culture. If you do it right, the client may never notice. But if you do it wrong, they definitely will. And, ultimately, doing it right the first time needs to be part of your branding. Let the competition be known for rework and low quality.

-- -- -- 

A version of this article was previously published in my Small Biz Thoughts newsletter. If you're not seeing it every week on Mondays, you should.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Most Important Checklists for Any IT Service Provider - Class starts May 28th

The Most Important Checklists for Any IT Service Provider – W508

Taught By: Karl W. Palachuk & Manuel Palachuk

- Five Tuesdays 

- May 28 - June 25

-- Register Now

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific / Noon Eastern

Checklists are critically important to creating SOPs - Standard Operating Procedures - for your company.

This course is intended for managers and owners of a managed service business. It covers many facets of the "checklist mentality" that the instructors have used at a variety of successful IT consulting businesses.

In addition to building hundreds of checklists and standard processes for KPEnterprises in Sacramento, CA, the authors have both written books, trained individuals, and coached teams on successful processes and habits for running a modern, successful managed service business.

This course will cover daily the use of checklists in daily operations as well as the "larger picture" of running the entire company. It will address both internal checklists for running your own company and external checklists for managing client relationships and client technology.

This is an intensive live webinar course over a five week period. All assignments are voluntary, of course. But if you want feedback on assignments, please complete assignments during this course and email them to the instructor.

Delivered by Karl Palachuk and Manuel Palachuk, authors of the Network Migration Workbook and many other books for MSPs - managed service providers. 

Includes five weeks of webinar classes with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.

Only $399

Register Now

Week by Week Overview of the Course

  • Week 1: What is a Checklist / Sample: Daily Backup Monitoring and Maintenance
  • Week 2: The Pre-Discovery Checklist / Discovery Process
  • Week 3: Employee Hiring Process / Exit Process
  • Week 4: New Client On-boarding / Client Off-boarding / Quarterly Client Roadmap
  • Week 5:  Monthly Maintenance Checklist / New PC Checklist

Sample Handouts for this course:

  • Class Syllabus
  • Slides from all classes
  • MPI Checklist Template
  • MPI Doc with TOC Template
  • NMW Discovery Checklist
  • NMW Remote Workstation Migration
  • How To Document Any Process White Paper by Manuel Palachuk
  • Personnel Folders
  • New Hire Checklist
  • Hiring Folder (ZIP)
  • Employee Goals Template
  • Employee Evaluation Template
  • Client Onboard Checklist
  • Client Removal Checklist
  • Roadmap Questionnaire
  • Roadmap Template
  • Roadmap Meeting Notes Template
  • Monthly Maintenance Checklist
  • New Workstation Checklist
  • New User Checklist
  • Welcome New Employee Orientation
  • The Big Pre-Discovery Checklist
  • Troubleshooting and Repair Log
  • Time Stamp Version Standards

A Few Details . . .

  • Each course will be five webinar classes (50-60 minutes each)
  • There will be handouts and "homework" assignments
  • If you wish to receive feedback on your assignments, there will be instructor office hours
  • Class calls will be recorded and made available to paid attendees only.
  • All calls start at 9:00 AM Pacific Time

Only $399

per student

Register Today!

Remember: Members of the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community receive huge discounts. More details at - or email the Community Manager.


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Join Me at ChannelPro Live - Columbus - June 5-6

I am honored to be presenting a couple of times at the ChannelPro Live event in Columbus, OH next month. Please join me there, if you can.

AND I'm very pleased to say that the good folks at ChannelPro have invited the entire board of directors of the National Society of IT Service Providers to meet there and hold our first in-person board meeting and team building event.

ChannelPro events are always filled with great information and networking. Please plan to join us if you can. 

ChannelPro LIVE: Columbus
June 5-6
Hyatt Regency Columbus

Register now at

Secure your spot with promo code “NSITSP” when you register.

100% free for qualified channel partners, ChannelPro’s vibrant regional events feature hours of networking time, exclusive vendor demos and deals, dining and entertainment, and masterclasses presented by renowned channel experts on topics integral to MSP success.  

I will be attending to present on how to effectively market MSP professionalism. You can review the full agenda here -

Event passes, access to all sessions, dining and prizes is 100% free for qualified channel partners—simply register with promo code “NSITSP”. PLUS, if you book your hotel room directly through the registration page, ChannelPro will reimburse the full cost of your stay for the night of June 5. If you can only make it to the main day on June 6—that's not a problem at all.  

I really hope you can make it on June 5-6—I think it’s going to be a fun and educational experience for you.

Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks,  

- Karl  P.


Note: ChannelPro is a valued support and vendor partner of the NSITSP - The National Society of IT Service Providers. You can learn more at

Friday, May 10, 2024

Why don't people know WHY their job exists?

Because KPIs teach them to value the wrong thing !!!

More and more, I have come to believe that there's one fundamental reason for almost all bad service: People do not know why their job exists.

How is that possible? Well, it's surprisingly easy. People apply for jobs based on some specific "requirements" that get them in the door. Requirements are not job descriptions. Requirements do not reflect mission, vision, and values.

More importantly, requirements to GET a job are frequently unrelated to providing great service. That's normal. For example, you might need a vendor certification (e.g., Cisco firewalls) in order to get hired on at a new company. But the skills you need every day are general troubleshooting, client communications, and attention to detail. Your cert gets you an interview. It's not related to your job.

BUT the problem is much bigger than that. 

How do companies measure performance? Answer: Horribly!

As a rule, companies FAIL to tell employees why their job exists. They are given tasks, not reasons. And while good client communication is important, what gets measured? Time on tickets. Time to close. Response time. Upselling services. 

In other words, employees have KPIs (so-call "Key" Performance Indicators) thrown in their face every day. Ticket close times are posted on dashboards. Sometimes, close rates are posted on the wall. Sometimes, everyone's performance is compared to everyone else on a big spreadsheet.

Employees are told every week, every day, and every hour that they're being measured on the big red or green number on their dashboard. They're not being measured on actual service. They're not measured on contributing to a positive culture. They're not being measured on whether they're team players. 

In fact, when they have to compete with their friends, who wants to do anything for the so-called team? It's far more likely that they see employees as one team and the company as the other. They are alienated from pride in their own work.

... And then there's an annual performance review. 

Once a year, someone judges them on morale and communications and being a team player. But every day they've been judged on arbitrary targets that have a very questionable connection to actual service delivery.

People can be forgiven for not knowing why their job exists. They're too focused on KPIs that someone needs to measure because someone else told them they should. In reality, no one can really explain why those KPIs exist, except as a way to compare companies. On measures that are unrelated to actual service delivery.

It's worth spending some time with your employees. Ask the very simple question: Why do you think your job exists? Why is this question important? Because it gets to the root of what the company actually needs from the employee. And it helps the employee understand where their job fits in the bigger picture.

For more perspective on KPIs, what to measure, and what not to measure, check out this recorded webinar: Free. No sales. Really.


Sunday, May 05, 2024

Scoundrels in the Workplace - Employees and Employers

Over Employment is is the opposite of over-working!

In the pandemic era (2020-2022), there was lots of talk about whether remote work was going to be permanent. I always held the opinion that some people would stay remote because bosses learned what's possible - and how to manage people remotely. But I also believed that most people would go back to the office for a variety of reasons.

And, overall, most of the people in the world would finally get a realistic introduction to remote work. In the world of tech, many of us have done some remote work for thirty years. And all of us have been able to do 90% of our jobs remotely for at least fifteen years.

For me, the most unanticipated trend to emerge from the remote work movement was the emergence of a new generation of scoundrels in the workplace. For a taste of this, see the site or just Google "over employment."

Over employment is basically taking two or more fulltime jobs. That's the basic description without commentary. Once I start to add my thoughts to the mix, I find it hard to believe that anyone thinks this is ethical.

Note: This is NOT a discussion of contractors who take on multiple fractional engagements. This is not holding down two or more part-time jobs. These folks collect fulltime salaries from employers for multiple fulltime jobs. If the jobs actually require fulltime work, then I believe these folks are thieves. The most generous thing you can say about them is that they are giving one or more employers less than a good fulltime effort.

If you've already put in forty hours with another company, and then you want to put in another forty hours, that second forty hour block is going to be far less effective, creative, or productive. If you add a third forty-hour job, then it's probably the case that no one is getting their money's worth.

If your response is, "It's the employer's fault for making it possible for me to take their money and give them little or no work in return," you have seriously flawed ethical standards. 

In fact, if you read through the web sites dedicated to this concept, you'll find stories about over-working, massive stress, and schemes to get away with something that everyone agrees is wrong. BUT, they're "sticking it to the man," so it's okay. The overall theme is, "do whatever it takes to get the money, but do as little productive work as possible." In other words, massive effort can be expelled to log into multiple sites, keep your mouse moving to trick tracking systems, and generate random emails from appropriate addresses all day long. Just don't do anything you're being paid for.

Like all other trends where someone's getting rich, there are a few people earning $750,000 or more holding down multiple jobs and doing little or no actual work. Their strategy is to just cash checks until they get fired, then move on to the next fake job.

Most people can't (and don't want to) work this hard at stealing money from nameless, faceless employers. But it does raise the question: Is this just a big pay-back for bad bosses over the years? Is all of this made possible because there are lots and lots of horrible bosses?

I'm afraid the answer is YES. Many of the people who read this blog became independent consultants because of horrible bosses. In fact, horrible, immoral bosses who care more about money and their own bonuses than they ever did about their team or company culture are everywhere.

Looking Forward: Do What's Right

None of us can change the past. But we all control how we will behave in the future.

Luckily for my readers, this is really a problem for large businesses. If you only have ten or twenty employees, you probably work closely enough to know whether or not you're getting value for what you pay. And, to be honest, your culture is still something you can control from the top down every day. If you have a slacker giving 20% effort, that's really your fault.

BUT, we operate in a world where this behavior exists and is growing. Eventually, those scoundrels will become victims to the pyramid in which they are currently a a brick in the wall. When that happens, they'll come looking for a real job. Most of them have enough technical skills to get an entry level tech job, fake up their resume, and interview well. But their "work ethic" has been completely focused on pretending to work. 

These folks might learn to be good, hard workers. But you can't guarantee that. Here's what you need to do going forward. (Note, most of this is common sense, old advice that you've been ignoring for years. Now you have to actually do it.)

1. Verify resume information. Ask for and verify references.

2. Ask for and verify transcripts or proof of training.

3. Give applicants simple, reasonable skills tests. Ideally, this will be in your office so you can monitor.

4. Sign employment contracts that state the number of hours expected, along with job requirements.

5. Keep your employees engaged with good culture, decent pay, and a great work place.

Please do not go down the road of the big, faceless corporations that caused this problem in the first place. That means, do not monitor their email, their camera, their mouse movement, and so forth. Yes, there are tools to spy on your employees. But if you use them, you will create a layer of expense that only serves the purpose of alienating your workers.

For the most part, we want to believe we are exempt from these problems in small business. But doesn't that sound like the client who says that they're too small to be victims of a phishing attack? 

The world of employment has changed. And whether you like it or not, this affects your business. You are now hiring in this environment and these folks are out there. Luckily, the steps you need to take are simple and inexpensive. 

And they're just plain good business, too. Luckily, most works take pride in their work and gain fulfillment from a job well done. This is particularly true in companies with a good culture and a long-term view of the future.

-- -- -- 

Have you experienced the effects of "over employment" or something similar? I'd love to hear about it.

Additional Related Material

We covered this a bit (ten minutes) on the Killing It Podcast: 
(Overworking topic begins at the five minute mark.)

I did a Relax Focus Succeed video about a recent Internet blow-up regarding employees and employers. Basically, it's a conversation about how people should go into the marketplace whether looking for a job or looking for an employee.

My main point there is that we should start from a place of honesty. But, obviously, that's a complicated thing. See