Career Progression for your Helpdesk and Service Desk Staff

This topic was suggested by a colleague of mine here at Serio, who asked me to write about how Helpdesk or Service Desk managers can help to give their staff further challenges at work, and/or a sense of career progression. He put it more prosaically : ‘what can you do to stop staff feeling like they are stuck in a rut and leaving?’. His comment was triggered by a conversation with a long-standing customer who had lost one of their brightest and best.

As always, I’ll try and stay with the practical. Like a lot of good things, what I’m about to say may seem somewhat obvious but you’d be surprised at how often it is neglected by what are otherwise very capable managers.

Lots of things can lower employee morale, such as poor pay, permanently angry customers, but I’m going to stick to how you give staff new challenges in what might seem to be an environment with limited promotional opportunities.

It really doesn’t matter if have no ‘promotion’ positions available, because what you can do is to give your staff new functions to perform, and this is where ITIL becomes really useful. Let us take the case of a Helpdesk or Service Desk with 6 staff and a manager, where the manager is responsible for producing monthly reports, analysing service levels achieved and so on.

This is quite typical in my experience – we have a manager and then a group of people who are responsible for dealing with customers day to day.

In this situation, you can (as an example) create a new role of ‘Service Level Manager’, and ask one of the staff to extend their repertoire of skills to include this. In doing so, it is absolutely critical that you spell-out for the person concerned what they have to do and be both specific and practical. You might say:

  • Produce monthly reports on Service Levels achieved (giving a sample report), including a summary and conclusion
  • Produce recommendations for improvements where Service Levels fall below that expected or required (again giving some examples)
  • Use the ITSM tool to monitor ongoing Service Levels day-to-day (again being specific. If you were a Serio user you might say ‘Act on the Response Breach Warnings that are sent’)

In order to make this work, you have to hand-over all (or almost all) responsibility. What I mean by this is that if you are discussing new Service Levels with customers, your Service Level Manager might take the lead (which doesn’t mean that the Service Desk or IT Manager is not involved, just that someone else leads the discussions and leads the process of agreement). Also, the person concerned should have a visible part to play in implementing successfully their own recommendations, and be able to take some credit for service improvements that result.

In other words, there is some scope for initiative. If you just ask someone to compile reports that will not achieve what I am talking about here.

Other benefits come from this approach, the principal of which is a wider appreciation of, and involvement in, IT service management.

Make sure it is clear both to the person concerned, and the rest of the team, that the role is a reward for competence and hard work. This gives them incentives and makes it clear that it is possible to progress within your own company.

Please take a look at the two White Papers attached that may be of interest.