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15 Tips for Success for Service Desk Managers

By | June 4, 2019 in Service Desk

SysAid Service Desk Superhero

Ever feel a little bit like Clark Kent or Linda Lang? A little unnoticed, when you really want to be that service desk superhero?

As a service desk manager, leading and managing your team is never without its challenges. The toll it can take on you, and your team can be of ever-increasing stress. The key is to harness your power as a service desk manager, to understand the best way you can utilize your position to influence your team positively. This way you’ll be able to fully unleash the full potential of your team’s capabilities - for greater success.

How can you accomplish this?  Below I provide a series of tips to help set you on the right path.

'The key is to harness your power as a service desk manager, to understand the best way you can utilize your position to influence your team positively' Click To Tweet

Every team member counts

“There is a superhero in all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape.” Superman

Before we even start talking about the team as a whole, let’s take a look at each of your team members individually. Your team’s motivation is directly correlated with your management style.

Did you know that employees who rate their manager’s performance poorly are four times more likely to be searching for a new job? In addition, 40% of employees who give their manager’s a poor performance score, have gone on an interview for a new job in the last three months, compared to 10% for those who gave their manager’s a high score. It’s the manager’s job to help each of their team members optimize their individual potential, strengths, and weaknesses. This way, they can set attainable goals and effectively communicate with their team members.

Everyone wants to be acknowledged for their hard work. Managers need to help their team members have the confidence in themselves to put the cape on, and not just to talk the talk, but walk the walk.

In fact, Entertainment Benefits Group (EBG), conducted an Employee Recognition Survey regarding the effect of a rewards and recognition program on boosting positive work culture. According to the participants, 94% of HR professionals believe that employee recognition programs aim to help employees be engaged and motivated, as well as help recruit and retain their employees. If you’re interested in learning how to set up an Employee Recognition Program, here’s a guide to get you started, you can also check out the video below.

In addition, the results of this survey also revealed five goals of recognizing and rewarding employees. The number one goal highlighted in these results is to make employees feel valued.

In fact, according to the ITSM Future-Readiness Report 2019 conducted by and SysAid, 55% of people working in IT (graph below) think that their profession is adversely affecting their personal wellbeing.


As you can see in the chart below, only one-quarter of respondents feel that their efforts are being valued and recognized by management. As a result, 41% of people feel they aren’t getting enough recognition, and 31% feel they don’t get recognized for their work – that’s a total of 72% of respondents who feel undervalued!

According to the ITSM Future-Readiness Report 2019, 41% of people feel they aren’t getting enough recognition, and 31% feel they don’t get recognized for their work – that’s a total of 72% of respondents who feel undervalued Click To Tweet


Actionable Tips:

  1. Schedule one-on-one time and get to know each and every team member.
  2. Get to know their individual learning styles. You can even conduct a learning style assessment.  Check out this learning style assessment quiz! Understanding their learning styles will allow them to create knowledge base articles based on their strengths.
  3. Provide your service desk agents with the opportunity to pursue training that can advance their career, including basic IT service management (ITSM) and ITIL skills. This promotes motivation especially during difficult periods of heavy workloads or organizational changes.

Effective Communication Drives Success

Communication is a two-way street. In order to promote a healthy communication cycle, there needs to be collaborative communication from the manager to the rest of the team.

According to a study by Weisman Success Resources, 44% of the responding business leaders were unhappy with their employee’s work. From this group, 70% of these managers accounted this to a result of their communication skills. Effective managing demands effective communication with your employees. Effective communication will completely depend on each team, and each individual team member.

In order to help ensure effective communication with your needs, you need to make sure that you empower your service desk agents to be able to talk to you about their ideas – they’re the ones in the thick of it, day in and day out, so they’ll be best able to see where improvements could be made. Listening to your team is crucial, and it’s even more crucial to allow all types of feedback.

Encourage them to share their suggestions and comments but especially their complaints. Encouraging such behavior will make a huge difference to the team dynamics, team performance, and overall motivation.

Also, be sure to not only listen to their feedback, but also provide them with feedback, and reward their useful suggestions. This response will help make a team member feel more included in the team and business decisions. It also helps with team performance, and motivation, as well as your stature as a leader.

Actionable Tips:

  1. If the only time you “connect” with your team is when something is wrong, then that’s how they’ll perceive you as a manager. You must make time in your busy schedule to hear your team’s concerns.
  2. Healthy competition amongst IT service desk agents can be a positive experience. Gamification merges game-mechanics with a job role to create a fun and engaging working environment. Add gamification for team targets, monitoring KPIs, and in turn uplift a seemingly dull task of performance measurements to a more engaging experience. This helps remove some of the stress of performance being tracked.
  3. Instill inspiration in your team. As a leader, it’s important to provide a vision to rile up your team, which will encourage them to work hard towards their goal. If you can inspire your team, then the momentum that you build will be hard to hold back!

Provide Feedback

Providing your team with feedback is a crucial step in an employee’s career journey. In order for an employee to improve, they need feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. The key is to provide constructive feedback. According to a Gallup survey, only 27% of employees strongly agree that the feedback they receive actually helps them perform better. Furthermore, only 22% strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that promotes motivation and superior work.

Many managers find it difficult to give feedback. In fact, it’s been noted that this can be the hardest part of their job. This task doesn’t have to be a negative experience. It can be served as an opportunity to further your employee’s growth, as long as it’s done correctly.

Here’s how to do it, right...

Actionable Tips:

  1. Give continuous feedback: Don’t wait and leave feedback to annual evaluations. Regularly speak with your service desk staff to see what’s going well, and what needs to change. This is positive reinforcement at its best. Even better, bring it up at a team meeting and acknowledge their good work.
  2. Emphasize their strengths: It’s important to reward what your employees do well. Therefore, assigning an employee with work they enjoy, or highlights their strengths, will assure they’ll perform at higher levels. They’ll also be happier doing the work, and happier with you – the manager who assigned them the task.

Note: If you’ve successfully assessed your individual learning styles and fostered healthy competition, then you can use this acquired information to harness their strengths.

"You're much stronger than you think you are. Trust me." -- Superman

It’s also important to keep Superman’s words in mind. An employee doesn’t always have the belief that they can accomplish something. As their manager, it’s your job to see their strength(s), let them know it, and encourage them to reach their full potential.

  1. Feedback is a two-way street: Make sure you aren’t the only one giving feedback. Keep the lines of communication open. Ask your employees how you can do better for them and what they need from you to reach their goals. Ask them if you could change anything that would help them be more productive.
'Providing your team with feedback is a crucial step in an employee’s career journey' @jodi_lifschitz shares her 15 tips to Service Desk Manager success. Click To Tweet

Promote Friendships

According to CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, one of the biggest priorities of a company should be company culture. Establishing a nurturing environment of values is an important foundation for every company. Integrating your work and life allows you to form strong relationships with colleagues. Hsieh believes that this drives employee passion as well as company growth.

Injecting close friendships into your working environment has been shown by Gallup research to produce a 50% increase in employee satisfaction. Therefore, as a manager, organizing social events such as team building excursions, team lunches, or networking events are beneficial to your team, especially if you want more productive employees! So bring on the good times!

Actionable Tips:

  1. Team up older and younger workers together: According to Harvard Business Review, pairing younger and older workers together helps them perform better. Those in the same age bracket tend to be more competitive. This research found that because of the lack of competition between the pair, they’re more likely to help each other and create a great team.
  2. Let team members share at meetings: When you have a meeting, give your team a chance to share what they did on the weekend. This gives everyone a chance to connect with each other, outside of the work environment.
  3. Set up team lunches: What a great way to spend time together outside of the office – everyone loves to eat and socialize!

Be there for your team

Being there for your team can include many roles: a coach, a motivator, a validator, and a positive contributor.

A good coach enables his or her employees to improve their individual performance on the job. Whether it's recognizing existing skillsets or helping to find new ones, a good coach can help to alleviate work-related stress, increase staff commitment, and improve overall productivity.

As a motivator, exuding the right attitude in the team can go a long way. As we all know, when your boss is stressed, you’re stressed. The challenge is for you as the leader, to control your emotions, otherwise, they’re going to bounce off the rest of your team, and that will only prove counterproductive.

As a validator, your job as their manager is to validate their aspirations and goals. Every one of your team members will expect your understanding as to where they stand, and where they want to go. You can help them get there. Listen to them, offer them training, such as ITIL courses, in order to advance their skills or career. Provide them with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge, and develop their skills in areas they enjoy. This will, in turn, keep them motivated. It will also help them get through the tough days and heavy workloads. With these tools armed in hand, you’ll allow them to gain experience and knowledge on the job, and allow them to advance their career. Guess what? You just became their superhero (for the day).

Not only do you need to know each and every one of your team members individually. But, knowing them individually will help you know how to play to their strengths and weaknesses in a team environment. It’s also important to assess how each of your team members act in a group. Watching them in a group setting, especially outside of the office, will clearly show who is the natural leader and who excels on their own.

Actionable Tips:

  1. Empathize with your teammates: Empathy goes a long way. Having your teammates backs when they’re going through tough periods, whether personally or on the job, will only prove to strengthen your relationship and trust. This means keeping up-to-date with what they’re going through.
  2. Manage conflict swiftly: Don’t let conflicts go unattended to, this will only create a negative atmosphere. In the face of conflict it’s important to address the following:
    • Listen to both parties involved and understand each side.
    • Be careful how you react, keeping in mind body language and tone of voice.
    • Make sure to come to a complete resolution with no loose ends that might make the  conflict linger.

Note: When we’re talking about conflict in the IT world, properly setting up a service desk automation, can significantly reduce internal conflicts.

  1. Keep it real: If you’re feeling the pressure, ask for help. This allows your team to see that you’re human, just like them. And, if you make a mistake, step up and show them everyone makes mistakes.

Summed up

There are going to be days where you or your teammates feel overwhelmed. It’s therefore important to remember to take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember these tips, and also the wise words of Superman’s biological father, Jor-el:

You will give people an ideal to strive towards, they will race behind you they will stumble, they will fall, but in time they will join you, in time you will help them accomplish wonders. – Jor-El

Bottom line, be there for your team, be a leader, be an inspiration, be a listener, be patient, and most of all – just believe in yourself, and your team. Only then, will you be seen as a true leader, and one your team will find honor in, and follow. They’ll make you proud, and then, the day will come, and you’ll be able to put on your cape – and fly!

Keen to learn more? Check out  the recording of our latest webinar –  10 Superhero Tips for Service Desk Managers where you can embark on a service desk manager mentoring session, with insights and best practices of what defines a great service desk manager.

Also, you’ll remember that I mentioned in this article how according to the future of ITSM survey, 72% of respondents felt “undervalued”? Well make sure that you check out the full report too, after all, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Jodi Lifschitz

About Jodi Lifschitz

As SysAid's Content Marketing Writer, Jodi prides herself on injecting creativity into her writing. With a background in technology - including writing for mobile, digital marketing, cyber and DevOps - she loves finding new and innovative ways to engage her audience. This also stemmed from 10 years as an educator.

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