Recapping The Series So Far
In our first post in this new series on Building your ITSM Dream Team, we looked at what the San Antonio Spurs can teach us about consistency and excellence. In this second post we are going to explore the key structures and roles you should consider when building your IT service team.
The Skills You Should Look For
When you’re aiming to create an effective team, it is critical to examine both skills and talent. Using our previous sports reference, it’s easy to see when someone is fast or has a great jump shot, but in the ITSM world the key skills aren’t always as obvious or easy to identify. Here are some important points to consider...
Find Your Listeners
This is especially helpful when you’re considering a new hire candidate. It’s a great idea to give some added consideration and weight to candidates that exhibit a knack for being a "great listener". When you’re looking at any type of customer service position, service desk staff included, it’s easy to overlook the positive impact that an active listener can have on your operation.
Technical knowledge is important too, but it can be taught over time if you have the right knowledge transfer systems built into your training program. Interpersonal skills are more innate, however, so keep that at the front of your mind when interviewing candidates or considering where a current team member might have the best opportunity to shine.
A good listener can help you in a number of ways, especially if they also foster a sense of empathy with your customers. Here are a few of the benefits to expect when you have good listeners on your ITSM Dream Team:
- Customers tend to be more reasonable in a difficult service scenario if they feel that the person they’re talking to understands the pain points they’re experiencing
- When listening is paired with solid documentation policies, your front line team can pass a treasure trove of useful insights up the line to decision makers
- User experience data is tough to understand without detailed user stories, so your listeners are positioned to context to your internal conversations
Locate The Storyteller
Your listeners are going add a huge amount of value, but those that can transition into a Storyteller will be invaluable. Seeing through the eyes of a customer is a great start, but the idea is to take it a step further so you can link raw data with 'the real customer experience'.
This team member can internalise several user experiences, distil them down to a quintessential story or narrative, and then articulate it back to you. This is invaluable information that you can use to communicate key issues or pain points to the wider team or management. In Agile operations where detailed user stories are the starting point for success, this role has a particular importance that can’t be overlooked.
Problem Solvers Are a Must
This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s critical that your front line staff are natural problem solvers that look to solve issues. We all know that person who looks at a Rubix Cube and smiles at the thought of the challenge they’re about to face. That mentality is definitely something you want your service desk Dream Team to live and breathe on a day to day basis.
Remember, your problem solvers are also more likely to have a higher patience level, which can go unappreciated if you’re overly focused on the numbers. At the end of the day, your service desk operation about people helping people, so the human elements are critical to success.
The Tiered Approach
Now that you’ve got some traits and skills to look for, it’s time to position your team in a way that allows you to get the most from everyone’s strengths - while shoring up their potential weak spots.
We always recommend using a tiered structure that mixes knowledge and experience levels so that everyone benefits - from customers all the way to your service desk manager. The best teams (ITSM or otherwise) always institute a successful mix of veteran experience and youthful talent. Here’s an outline you can refer to when structuring your own ITSM Dream Team:
Entry level / Level 1 / Intern
- Start them off with process based learning versus skills training
- Teach them to document every aspect of every customer interaction at first, over time they’ll learn to document what’s most important
- Transition your entry level staff into the areas where they show promise. Service managers need to recognize these strengths early in order to nurture them properly
Level 2 and Level 3 Techs
- It’s important to de-emphasize any over specialization in terms of skills or knowledge
- Skills overlap (a.k.a. wearing a lot of hats) can actually be a good thing at this level because it keeps fresh challenges in front of individual team members. As a service manager, do what you can to lessen the sense of monotony
- As your level 2 and level 3 members demonstrate mastery of a particular skill, have them “buddy up” with one of your entry level team members with the goal of transferring that knowledge
- Be cognisant of the ITSM burnout factor. Utilize a comprehensive auto routing logic that spreads the load and consider adopting a rotation strategy that pulls techs “off the line” for a couple of weeks. Focus their energy on something a little less stressful and overall team morale should benefit.
- A successful service desk leader fully understands the difference between a manager and a leader. A manager gets the job done, but a leader creates an atmosphere of success
- A leader is willing to get their hands dirty if needed. If a high impact request is stressing out your team, step in and offer your assistance and knowledge
- Communication goes both ways so find out what your team needs from you and offer it up without them having to ask. This could be tools, training, or even just an interesting new challenge
- Delegation is critical, but be sure to share the credit. Your team will respect you, and as a result, they’ll follow you
- The SaaS and IaaS movements have powered an incredible shift in the ITSM industry over the past several years. Now your CIO/CTO is uniquely positioned to manage those service vendor relationships
- On an ITSM Dream Team, the C level understands exactly how to establish expectations. Thanks to the success of their team, a C level should know what a good service desk looks like
- Keep budgets in mind, but don’t overlook the day to day logistics.
- There are going to be hiccups in service, there’s no way around it. So set up SLA’s with your suppliers and fully map out the confliction resolution process so you know what to do when things go awry.
Hopefully this gives you a solid starting point for building out your ITSM Dream Team! With the next post in this series we’re going to show you how automation and reliance on the cloud has allowed service management teams to get back to their main objective - helping people!
We’ll also offer some tips on crafting the right training programs and then show you how to implement an ongoing knowledge transfer system that benefits everyone.
Keep us posted with your comments and feedback. We would love to hear some success stories from the other Dream Teams out there!