Poly Pomona - IME Engineering Colloquium Speaker Series - Winter
- What a Young Engineer
Should Know About...
- High Performance
- Based on a Presentation by:
- Prof. Phillip
R. Rosenkrantz and Ms. Vicky Davis
- (Return to Colloquium Page)
- By David
Algallar (ECE) and Cristinamae Caguiat (ECE). Photography
by John Kord.
- Editing and Web Page Design
by Phil Rosenkrantz.
Performance Work Habits:
Consider the following professional
engineer career paths:
All three paths require the same basic skills to be extremely
successful - the measure and amount required to be successful
varies depending on intended results. Dr. Stephen Covey's books:
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and First
Things First are two of the best. The following partial
list complements Dr. Covey's work by giving several examples
of what "High Performance Work Habits" look like:
Good Work Habit
High Performance Work Habit
Has one or two short term goals that
are in mind. May have long term goals but not necessarily very
committed to it.
Has specific short and long range goals
in writing with some ideas on how to achieve them.
Awareness and Understanding
Understands why work is being performed.
Also knows the "big picture"
so that the end result of any work can be assessed and made more
Good at getting information and ideas
across to a variety of people.
Learns to understand people and discover
their interests. Sensitive to making all situations into "win-
win". Visionary and helps other see the vision as well.
Does things when asked or reminded one
Does things before being asked or after
the initial request. Does not have to be reminded.
Deadlines and commitments
Tenaciously meets deadlines. If there
is possible advantage to being early, then finishes early.
Keeps list of things to do and makes
sure that all items are completed. Effectively uses a planner.
Ability to diligently plan, prioritize
and distinguish between the important and urgent things to do.
Highest priority items are done first. Never forgets an assignment.
Always looking for better ways to run things at a personal level.
Helps keep those around organized and informed as well so that
time wasting is avoided.
Points out opportunities as they arise.
Seeks and is always finding opportunities
for improvement or new sources of business.
Finds problems and assists with formulating
solutions. Good at gathering information.
Excellent judge of what is pertinent
information, how to get it and how to assess it. Able to get
to the root of problems quickly. Suggests one or two possible
solutions when reporting a problem.
Little wasted or idle time. Does not
spend time on things that should be done by someone else.
Tenacious about the use of time for
productive purposes. Always looking at how to get more value
out of time spent. Hates to waste time or spend $100/hr time
on $10/hr projects.
Returns calls within a day or two
Almost always returns calls within the
same day. Does not waste a lot of time on unnecessary conversation.
Dealing with difficulties on an assignment.
Meets deadlines with required project
deliverables. Ask for help if problems arise.
Makes sure that potential difficulties
are researched and removed prior to delivering final product.
Always ask for help early so no one is surprised. Not afraid
to ask questions.
Can be trusted to meet obligations
Trustworthy to a fault. If they say
they will do something you can count on it. Loyal to the organization,
bosses, and customers.
Minimal involvement. Aware of what could
cause problems. Does not gossip or exacerbate "political"
Through the use of mentors and contacts
gets to know key people in the organization and keeps away from
awkward situations. Is, however, known for the quality of work
they do, not who they know.
Member/Leader (top) (contents)
A team is a small group of people working together to achieve
a common purpose for which they must hold themselves collectively
responsible. Teamwork takes place when members work together
so that their skills compliment each other and are used to achieve
a common goal. Teamwork involves active participation and encourages
a collaborative problem solving and action process. To be an
effective team member, one must undergo some sort of formal or
informal training program to acquire a set of "tools"
that can be used to identify problems, collect data and analyze
it, and make decisions.
In the work environment, one may encounter many different types
of teams. There are teams that design, teams that improve, teams
that fix and teams that run the operation.. Every member of a
team must be willing to listen and respond constructively to
others who raise important viewpoints, provide additional support,
give others the benefit of the doubt, and to recognize the achievement
Three aspects of teams were chosen as the focus for the colloquium
The Stages of Team Development
Factors That Affect Group Performance
High Performance Team Meetings
Stages of Team Development (top) (contents)
In college classes we form teams in many classes and give students
anywhere from one to ten weeks to get results. As you know, these
teams are often dysfunctional and the workloads are imbalanced.
In a real corporate setting it can take years for a team to develop
into a high functioning group. Many corporate executives are
naive about this when they start to form teams within their organizations.
They expect great result far too quickly. Below is a well-known
description of the stages of team development.
Forming - In this stage, one becomes acquainted with the
other members and their abilities. Many people have encountered
working in groups in previous encounters, have different goals,
and hold different impressions, all of which may contribute to
the groups working dynamics.
Storming - The storming stage is a stage of group development
where conflicts may arise and emotions run high as team members
start to interact with different expectations. Egos may take
control and people may begin to show their "true colors".
Membership expectations are exposed and clarified.
Norming & Conforming - The conforming stage is the
point at which the group begins to come together as one coordinated,
functioning unit. Roles will normalize and positions will be
filled. Personality differences start to get worked out or accommodated.
Performing - During this stage, a well-functioning, organized
group emerges. The group is now able to cope with complex tasks
and handle disagreements in new, creative ways. There is a strong
commitment to excel. The group strives towards high performance.
Strengths and weaknesses are accommodated and used to the team's
That Effect Team Performance (top) (contents)
Rules or standards for what is considered
appropriate behavior by team members can have a significant impact
on group processes and outcomes. The size of the team may also
have an effect on group dynamics. Many authorities say the optimum
group size is 6-8, with six being a highly regarded team size.
It has been the presenters experience that while large teams
of, say 10-12, may seem like a good idea, they do not seem to
create much momentum. Large teams often have the disadvantage
of having to "carry" three or four members along. This
slows down the whole team. It depends upon the cohesion created
within the group. The greater the cohesion, the more effective
the group is. Also having people with similar performance goals
is helpful.. You can get to know other members on a personal
level, and understand where they are coming from. Maximize your
networking skills within your peer group. Understanding diversity
and cultural differences and how they may affect work habits
and behavior is essential in the workplace today.
Performance Team Meetings (top) (contents)
Prof. Rosenkrantz had stated that
he had never seen meetings conducted as they were supposed to
except at one company that was using a "High Performance
Team" format. Responsibilities would be rotated among the
team members so that each person's team role was not fixed. In
managerial team meetings, there would be a proposed agenda that
would be closely followed. The proposed meeting's agenda would
be prepared and circulated right after each meeting and finalized
amongst its members.
Individual Roles at Meetings
The Timekeeper - A timekeeper is assigned so that the meeting's
agenda is adhered to. Each agenda item is allowed a predetermined
amount of time. Part of the timekeeper's role is to also direct
the flow of the meetings. He/she should be able to keep the panel
focused and on track as to what should happen during the meeting.
The Leader - The team leader is responsible for preparing
the agenda, circulating it well ahead of the meeting, and for
leading the meeting. The responsibility rotates between team
The Evaluator - At the end of the meeting the evaluator
gives an analysis of the meeting and the strengths and weaknesses
of the presentations made. Individuals are praised or critiqued
for their contributions. Difficulties are analyzed. From the
criticism presented, the team must then identify areas where
as a team; they may need additional training.
Secretary - One person keeps track of the discussion and
writes items on the board.
The Parking Lot - Potential agenda items are placed in
what is referred as the "parking lot." Items place
under the parking lot are not discussed at the present meeting,
instead proposed for the next meeting. The parking lot serves
a waiting spot for items that are brought up during the course
of the meeting which are not listed as part of the current agenda.
High Performance Team Meeting Format
The following meeting format is similar to team building program
currently being used in industry. The goal is to build highly
effective teams that are action oriented. Below is a very brief
summary of the format for a two-hour maximum weekly meeting.
Appropriate space should be allocated on a chart pad or white
marker board for use during the meeting (Agenda, Future Agenda,
and "Parking Lot").
News Reports (5 min) - Go around
the room and each person briefly share something positive that
they saw, heard, or did since the last meeting. Pay someone a
compliment if appropriate.
2. Measures and Problem Solving (25-45 min) - Review the
5-7 key measures that your group is following to track critical
processes. Focus on problem areas if necessary. Convert larger
problems into future agenda or action items or refer them to
the "parking lot".
3. Action Items (20-30 minutes) - Review list of items
assigned for action from previous meetings that are due at this
meeting. Responsible individuals give their results or reports.
4. New Agenda Items (30-50 minutes) - Each person putting
an agenda item on should also give an estimate of the time that
will be required for the item to be covered. Focus on the main
agenda items for the current meeting. Let each person on the
agenda prioritize their item for the group as either A (requires
action soon), B (action critical or important but could be delayed),
or C (important, but not critical and can be delayed). Go over
A items first, then B, etc.
5. Parking Lot - Any items that come up and are candidates
for future meeting or as future action items should be relegated
to the "Parking Lot" by the facilitator until the end
of the meeting. Having the "Parking Lot" allows you
to stay focused during the meeting and not go off on tangents.
6. Information Sharing (5-10 minutes) - Go around the
room allowing each person to share information about events,
programs, trips, jury duty, training opportunities, visitors,
or anything else of general interest. This is an "information
only" session. Potential discussion items should be referred
to the "Parking Lot"
7. Plan next agenda (5 minutes) - Assign action items
and agenda items from current meeting results and parking lot
8. Assign roles for next meeting (5 minutes) - Who will
run the meeting, be timekeeper, evaluator, facilitator, etc.
9. Meeting Evaluation (5 minutes) - Designated person
evaluates the meeting: Did the meeting start on time? How well
did the meeting chair stay on track? Did the timekeeper do their
job? Were exchanges healthy? Who did a good job on their action
item? What could be improved? Who did or did not play fair?
10. Optional - Determine a meeting grade. Give your meeting
a grade assessing the overall meeting for effectiveness, people
being prepared, quality of comments, and progress made. Track
grades on a chart to make sure you are improving and "under
Sales (top) (contents)
(By: Vicki Davis)
For many people the most important
factor when looking for a job is the being rewarded for their
performance and making a higher "salary". Many people
are not satisfied with fixed wages that are not very closely
related to performance. This may lead people to enter the sales
field on a commission basis. Also, an individual may decide to
go to sales because he/she likes dealing with customers and traveling
a lot. The following outline contains very useful information
anybody planning on going for sales should know about.
If you expect to be successful at
technical sales, you should have all or most of the following
1. Strong self-confidence
3. Be able to assess personality in minutes
4. Maintain very organized work habits
5. Participation in extra-curricular activities (professional
clubs, community events, networking opportunities)
6. Thorough product knowledge
7. Punctuality and reliability
and Disadvantages of a Career in Technical Sales (top) (contents)
1. Can make lots of money at a very young age
2. Salary or bonus points for gift purchasing
3. Company may supply a car
4. May win pleasure trips
5. Job could provide travel both nationally and internationally
6. Not in the office all day & can meet many people
1. Company may require you to work more than 8 hours a day
2. Will hear many "no's" and complaints will be registered
3. Salary can occur in cycles
4. The car becomes your office
5. Travel hours can become excessive
6. Possibility of co-workers stealing your accounts.
Questions When Interviewing for a Technical Sales Position (top) (contents)
Company policies, products, competition,
commission structure, training programs, territory assignments
and other factors can have as much to do with your success as
your personal qualities and skills. It is important that you
make sure that the company has policies and procedures that allow
you to be successful. When interviewing for a job you can ask
questions to help you decide if the company is a good one to
1. Will you have protected territories & accounts?
2. When is commission paid? How much of your pay is base salary
and how much is commission? Are bonuses paid to sales offices
also or just to individuals?
3. Can commissions be retracted if customer returns the product?
4. How long is their training program & how will you be paid
during this time?
5. What will be your sales quotas and what is the % of successful
entrants making these quotas?
6. Ask to spend a day in the field with an experienced rep.
7. Who is the major competition and what are the advantages of
your products over the competition.
8. Can customers try out the product at no charge to see if they
like it (trial period)?
Work Habits (top)
In addition to developing your own
high performance work habits, it is important that you become
acquainted with your customer's work habits. Also, at the end
of the day it is helpful to spend some time doing the following:
1. Reviewing list of clients
2. Pulling together sales promotional materials for tomorrow's
3. Fill out expense reports, etc.
4. Write and send thank you letters or any other personal letters
5. Periodically, review your sales forecasting.
6. Keep a log of the phone call transactions
7. With each customer file, create a checklist for the inside
Entrepreneurship (top) (contents)
(By: Prof. Rosenkrantz)
Many times it is not worth it to an individual to work for somebody
else. Why work for someone else when you can do the same work
for yourself and keep more of the revenue that is generated.
Some people will never be happy working for someone else and
need to go it on their own. The risks are greater, but so are
the potential rewards. The following are some concepts that every
person thinking about Entrepreneurship should keep
in mind to help them succeed.
1. Know what business you are in and what your goals are:
You have to know exactly the nature of the business you are
entering. Crystallize your thinking about what you are trying
to do and what your short and long term goals are.
2. Business Plan: You have to come up with a strategy to
develop your business from the very beginning and be reasonably
sure you have a saleable idea and the resources necessary to
develop a successful business. A written business plan gives
you an idea of whether or not you have an idea that can work.
You can use the plan to attract partners, investors, or to shop
for a loan. Generally, however, after the business starts, the
plan changes almost daily to deal with changes and the unexpected.
Experienced investors will key in on three parts of the business
plan: (1) The management plan - are the people in-charge
experienced and capable; (2) The marketing plan - is there
a viable market and how will the product or service will be advertised,
sold, and distributed in a competitive manner; and (3) The
pro-forma financial statements - will there be enough cash
flow to sustain the business while it grows into a profitable
3. Competition: You have to know who your competitors
are. It is essential to find out how much competition there is
for a particular product or service because there might be enough
people producing the same thing. Once an individual has started
the business it is very important to keep track of how the competition
4. Corporate structure/Partnerships: One of the first
decisions you have to make before entering a business, is to
decide how many people you want investing. You can have a partner
or a group of people forming a corporation. These decisions affect
control of the enterprise and how things are run.
5. Financing: One of the major concerns is to make sure
there will be available funds to start the business and operate
until profitable. You have to decide where the money is coming
from and how much. It is very common to start without enough
money to back up the operation and then run out of cash before
profits are in place. This is when the entrepreneur may have
to sell the business or take on investors or partners to provide
the additional capital they need. Often this results in loss
of control over the business and much of the incentive for starting
the business is destroyed.
6. Financial management: Once the assets are available,
a very well structured financial strategy should be developed
and followed to always make wise use of all the property, equipment,
7. Winning Attitude: Probably the most important part
of being in business for yourself is the attitude that no matter
what happens, you will deal with it and continue on. Problems
and challenges arise moment by moment. You need the resolve that
any problem can be overcome if you just keep trying. This is
8. Work Long Hours: Be prepared to work long hours. 60-80 hours
per week at the beginning is not unususal. Keeping your life
in balance can be a major problem. However, after you get the
business off the ground, you should be able to cut back somewhat.
If not, then you need to reexamine your priorities.
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