Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who is your next hire for the service desk?

One of the greatest attributes that anyone in service management can have is a very thick hide, along with a very generous pinch of patience. These are not skills you can pick up when you do your MCSE, IT Degree or even your ITIL certification. You are far more likely to gain these from the school of life and hard knocks.

© mostafa fawzy - Fotolia.com
What I hope this  bit of writing will do is to make you consider is who your next hire on the Service Desk will be and what the next advertisement you write will say. Don't file CVs without a formal IT background in the round filing basket on the floor, and stop insisting on various IT certifications for your new Service Desk team members. Think outside the square, you may be surprised with what you get!

I didn't come to the world of ITSM from a traditional IT background, in fact I had no recognised qualification in any IT field at all...somehow I managed to fall from the sky and land on my feet behind an IT Service Desk. I am always up for a challenge, just as well because I did have a lot to learn.

Now I was not, by any means, IT illiterate! I was the go-to person for all my friends and family who had computer issues, and I always found it pretty easy to navigate my way around home PCs. I did some contract work for my brother who was developing a major application for a large Australian City Council where I wrote the help keys for him. As with everything else I do, I read, learned and inwardly digested any readily accessible information about personal computing.

I was very good on the service desk, keeping calm, being patient and soothing anxious customers came easily to me. I worked hard to pick up the technical skills I needed to allow for a good rate of first time resolutions. But my forte was keeping the customers happy, giving them a virtual hug and making them believe that everything was going to be OK...and since my first role was supporting stock brokers, a breed of people that live on stress, that was often not the easiest task in the world.

I was a good organiser...having four children will do that to you! Prioritising and organising my day to make certain that the essentials were always done was a way of life. My patience and ability to keep calm under pressure came the hard way...I mentioned in an earlier blog that two of our children had the misfortune to be born with primary immune deficiencies (I won't go into the medical details...that would take way too long). A good chunk of our eldest son's first five years were spent in hospital, he also had an annoying habit of stopping breathing when he slept (15 or more times a night) and there were many times where we were not sure what his future might look like. When our youngest daughter was born, five years later, and started showing symptoms of the same disorder we were much better prepared. We used to have a saying, actually wrote it up on a piece of paper once and stuck it on the wall above the hospital bed - "Hurry up and wait"- because that was what you felt you were doing all the time. You learn to live from one hour to the next and just deal with each new issue as it arises.

Perhaps I was sometimes even a bit too calm (on the outside anyway), our eldest daughter recently had cause to take her son to the same paediatrician who cared for her siblings. He told her that sometimes he wanted to take me by the shoulders and shake me and make me realise that this was serious because I always seemed so calm and relaxed about things.

I live by a couple of mantras that I repeat to myself frequently - one favourite is "over the head, not up the nose", just reminds me not to let things get to me, don't take stuff personally...nothing that happens at work is worth losing sleep over. Another thing I like to think about is the principle of problem (not in ITIL terms!) ownership...when something is worrying me, annoying me or just occupying a significant amount of my conscious thought, I ask myself it is is actually MY problem. If I am unable to change anything then it is not mine,  I need to give it back to the person who owns it and get them to do something about it. There is absolutely no use worrying about things that you cannot change, if you are worrying about things that you CAN change, then just get on and do it and stop procrastinating!
© Les Cunliffe - Fotolia.com

Well, that is enough of my history, but what I hope that story has done is made you realise that the best person for your service desk may not be the one with the MCSE or ITIL foundation training...those are things that they can pick up on the job. Life skills and personality attributes are things that you cannot buy with any training package you might invest in. Think hard when you write your next advert for a team member for your service desk, or read through the CVs your receive. That mum who has just sent her last child off to school might have the best time management skills you can imagine! The person who loves to play on social media might be able to boost the image of your service desk by putting those skills to use for you. Do some lateral thinking, hire for personality, you can add the technical stuff later.


  1. Thank you for expressing the expectations of a possible hire. It is interesting to see what type of management skills are needed to increase productivity. If you have a chance, I would like to ask if you would be able to tell me what service desk ITIL is. I have heard of the term "IT" in the past, but I have yet to find the proper definition of ITIL. I hope I did the html correctly. I think I linked the word with the url so you can see what I am talking about.

  2. Always nice to come across useful Field Service Management Software Thanks for sharing.