Closing our three-part blog series on delivering IT service excellence, we look at people, effective management and how to build an IT team that wins.
Workplace culture being defined from the boardroom down and led by HR is standard within most businesses. However, on a departmental level, culture can also be a powerful concept central to establishing a successful and satisfied workforce.
Establishing and empowering a unique team
This presents an opportunity for IT leaders. Take the time to ask yourself what kind of team environment you want your people to turn up for every day and what kind of values and practices you want to instil. Then commit to developing that culture in the long-term.
Your aim isn’t to create a splinter culture that breaks from your businesses’ philosophies. On the contrary, it’s entirely possible for teams to develop an identity while their overall values remain in tandem with the business.
The following actions are fundamental for any leader focused on cultivating a productive and satisfied team dedicated to delivering IT service excellence.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Perhaps the most over-used statement in business leadership is that communication is key to a successful team. This may seem threadbare, but there’s a reason why. Many of us still don’t get this right because, simply, it’s all too easy to get wrong.
Communication is so routine an action that we often take for granted whether we have done it well or not. But bringing it into plain sight and accounting for it within your processes can go a long way to avoiding misunderstandings.
This does not apply only to your team, but you to as a leader. Solicit communication that contributes to continuous improvement and developing the culture you advocate.
Start with a robust and regular system of feedback. Whether this is through pulse surveys or one-to-ones built into performance reviews, the important point is to actively communicate, seek out your people’s thoughts and give them the opportunity to contribute.
Communication is also of course vital when it comes to project success. Clarity on points such as everyday tasks, responsibilities, the goals you are all working towards and what you expect must come from the top down, consistently and clearly.
Introducing a responsibility definition framework, such as RACI or DACI, can provide clarity, speed up projects and enable your people to do their best work. Designed to establish an accountability mindset, they can ensure your people are confident in their individual areas of responsibility.
This enables them to work together seamlessly on projects as a team and ultimately, keep their common goal in sight.
Instil a user experience mindset
IT professionals can be a solitary breed. With hard-won careers built on studying complex concepts, research and self-education, many are accustomed to working independently and consider autonomy to be a positive.
This can mean that collaborating or asking for help is not always a first port of call. These habits may cause people to shy from dependency, which, in turn, can lead to entirely avoidable oversights in communication.
When it comes to delivering IT service excellence to users, understanding what they need through clear communication is just as essential as technical skill. This is where, as an IT leader, you are heavily relied upon to place communication, collaboration and a user mindset front and centre of your team’s practices.
Smash the silos
It’s often said that people don’t do their best work in their comfort zones. As an IT leader, there are many ways you can steer your team towards the collaborative working practices that will help you all succeed.
Adapt your projects to include interconnected tasks. Use project management software to help these run as smoothly as possible.
Once used mainly by developers, Agile ways of working are now valued for their universal approach to collaboration and communication. Visualising tasks through Kanban or collaborating using the Scrum framework can be great ways to unite your team while also instilling an accountability mindset.
Coordinated office time
Arrange days where your team works together from the office. Hybrid and remote working have revolutionised our working lives, but a downside is the risk of disconnect. Remind your team you depend on one another and that everyone has a valuable role to play by bringing them together regularly.
Place value on empathy
The primary skill you seek when recruiting is technical competence. When all’s said and done, your team has to be capable of closing tickets, recovering deleted documents, repairing network connections and resolving authentication errors.
However, when it comes to delivering service excellence, these skills alone can’t fulfil what your users need. Technical capability must work alongside, or even take a back seat to, user empathy.
You may consider empathy to be just another way of saying ‘people-focused’. But it goes further than this. Not only does empathising elaborate on the user’s immediate problem, it also affords a wider of view of why and how they contacted you, how they like and need to be communicated with and other pressures on them that are invisible when the focus is solely on technical problem-solving.
Encouraging your people to walk in the shoes of the user and consider their problems on a deeper level is crucial to delivering service excellence. It also offers them assurance that you strive to understand what they need, boosting the likelihood of positive user experience and feedback.
Hold your managed services provider to the same standards
Should you expect the same standards from a managed services provider that you would instil in your own team? The answer is, absolutely. When sourcing a managed service provider to liaise with your users and ultimately, manage your reputation, ask the questions that matter.
Any diligent managed services provider will be fully prepared and happy to walk you through this to offer the assurance you need. They should demonstrate how their approach aligns with your needs and ultimately, your businesses’ strategy.