Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
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Is there a secret to being a great help desk manager? Yes!

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blog-good-service-desk-managerWell, there are actually seven secrets…according to a group of IT service management (ITSM) veterans who recently discussed and debated this exact topic. Luckily, they were willing to share these secrets with the wider ITSM community, hoping the knowledge they gained from life on the service desk will help others become great service desk managers.

The group of ITSM veterans:

  • Brandon Cuddle: A former senior IT support manager, Brandon currently spends his professional life helping to improve the customer experience.
  • Phil Gerbyshak: Prior to becoming a social media guru, Phil led a service desk team at a financial services organisation. For many years, he has been heavily involved with HDI.
  • Michael Jenkins: Michael is a service management consultant with Bright Horse. Prior, he was a service desk manager for a company that provides foreign currency services.
  • Mike Kyffin: Mike is the EMEA learning services and PSO manager for Cherwell Software™. Prior, he led a global service desk team at a software company.

The secrets:

Drum roll please… here are the secrets along with a selection of the group’s thoughts.

#1: Great managers are great communicators. They…

  • Don’t lead silently. Coaches don’t coach quietly from the side line or from the locker-room.
  • Translate IT jargon into business speak and business speak into IT jargon.
  • Listen…to their customers, team, everyone around them and then make decisions.
  • Communicate the same message in different ways so everyone understands.

#2: Great managers are the customer ambassador in IT. They…

  • Put an empty chair at meetings to represent the voice of the customers.
  • Think carefully about how to establish long term relationships with customers.
  • Attend more meetings, interact with departments, and get out from behind their desks.
  • Look beyond statistics and metrics to the customer experience and the business benefits.

#3: Great managers are the gatekeeper to service. They…

  • Understand what it means to deliver a service regardless of how small or big that service is.
  • Realise they are the intersection between the customer and IT and represent both.
  • Are the gatekeeper and the goalie. They are the first line and the last line of defence.
  • Aren’t afraid to make mistakes. It’s all about how someone reacts to a mistake.

#4: Great managers provide feedback and coaching. They…

  • Find the time, make the time, and not just once per year.
  • Entrust a member of the team with something they don’t usually do.
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of each person on their team.
  • Provide specifics, give examples, role play and don’t engage in one-sided conversations.

#5: Great managers practise intentional hiring, discipline and firing. They…

  • Hire the right people from a customer perspective.
  • Ask themselves: Would I be happy putting this person in front of a customer? A group of customers? IT peers? A C-level staff member?
  • Asks candidates to sit with a service desk team member while this person takes calls.
  • Communicate what’s expected in terms of service and the quality of that service.

#6: Great managers cast the vision and do goal setting. They…

  • Set realistic, measurable goals (that matter) for those they manage and communicate vision.
  • Want team members to grow and develop into roles beyond the service desk.
  • Drive behaviours that positively impact customer satisfaction.
  • Create an environment where people enjoy their work and have a sense of achievement.

#7: Great managers walk the walk. They…

  • Stay late when needed. Are on hand when needed. Dive in when needed.
  • Don’t shy away from first line calls and aren’t afraid to pitch in and help.
  • Inspire their team, defend their team and take responsibility for the team.
  • Are present when it matters and counts.

So, there you have it. The seven secrets. Do you agree? Do you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share?