You’ve built a good team, for the most part. You’ve hired carefully, armed your IT help desk with excellent tools, made sure they were properly trained, and conduct regular evaluations so that employees know where they stand. But your business is going places! That takes a staff of committed, mature, well-developed IT folks to make it happen. The team doesn’t just need a manager, they need a good coach. Here’s how to coach those help desk workers into the best IT guys and gals around.
Coaching is a Process, Not a Task
An annual employee evaluation is a task; coaching is an ongoing process. It’s more about a mindset and less about “do this, then do that.” Pick a sport and watch what the coaches do: during the game they are simply reinforcing the lessons they’ve taught day in and day out on the practice field/court/ring/etc. Every experience on the help desk can be a learning experience. No, it doesn’t mean you have to go Big Brother on your team. It does mean that you need to watch for opportunities to bring the best out in your workers as often as possible. For example, “Sam, how did X work out for you? Do you have ideas for how it could go better next time?”
Coaching is About Development of the Employee, Not “Fixing” People
Coaches don’t create talented athletes, they take gifted athletes and help those men and women develop their skills to the fullest potential. Coaching isn’t about fixing the flaws in your staff, but involves helping them make the most out of the talents, skills, education, and training it took to get them a position on your help desk. The best coach will never make a star quarterback out of a solid linebacker, but the coach can help the solid linebacker become a stellar one. What does this look like? Instead of asking, “What’s the problem?” try rewording that to, “Is there something I can help you with?” or perhaps, “Can you tell me what’s going on?”
Rules Have to Be Applied Consistently and Equally Across Staff
The greatest coaches in history have been those who willingly punished the star players as quickly and readily as their average and even lackluster players. Does your stellar team member get by with coming in late, occasionally sassing off to a user, or neglecting to turn in reports? Would you accept this behavior from one of your so-so workers? Coaching involves making the rules clear and applying rules consistently among workers and over time. What got a worker written up last month should result in the same punishment this month and next, and should be the same for Killin’ It Ken as well as Slackin’ Stan.
Transparency is Key to Making Coaching Efforts Successful
If your new coaching practices seem drastically different than your old way of managing, make sure your staff doesn’t have reason to question your motives. Be transparent about new policies and procedures. Make it clear how the new way is going to benefit them as employees.
For example, when introducing new ITSM software or implementing new asset management procedures, tell them well ahead of time. Explain the benefits, as well as any obstacles you foresee. Springing any changes on personnel at the last minute makes them question your motives. When they have a voice about things ahead of time, there is much less resistance to what you’re trying to achieve.
A coaching attitude to managing the help desk can generate high morale, which leads to greater employee retention, lower turnover, and even a higher customer service rating.
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