Firstly, everybody is talented.
The Service Desk is a unique place within IT, it is somewhere where soft skills are a must, persistence is rewarded and technical skills are learnt. If you would like a term that perfectly explains what we do, that would be ‘Foundation Builder’.
The ‘Foundation Builder’
The Service Desk is the place that you build your foundations to use later on in your career. A house built on poor foundations will probably fall down and need rebuilding. We allow people the time to build their technical knowledge of the business, technology and, most importantly, people. There are not many other areas of technology that allow you to interact with so many different people and having this skill really helps someone stand out when they then look at moving into other areas. Below are some examples of how we build stable foundations for people that help their career.
If you breed a culture of finger pointing then you are not nurturing talent. If you make people feel like they can’t try something different to get to the end result, then you’re stifling their problem solving skills. We problem solve as human beings every day, it is a skill we can grow.
That doesn’t mean that mistakes shouldn’t be learnt from, it’s vital for success. An individual’s mistake is not just for them to reflect upon, it’s important that the team and leaders reflect on these too.
- Could there have been more support given?
- Was any supporting documentation incorrect or out of date?
- Could we have taken any steps to offer some training before?
Making mistakes creates brilliant opportunities for improvements and innovation. Reflection is integral to this. Once time is taken to learn, understand and reflect then your previously perceived mistake can become an achievement and any achievement is always something to be proud of. As a leader, it’s important that we publicise our own mistakes as we all make them and this is what can start and create a great culture.
Another skill that we nurture is being able to deal with multiple issues at once. We have multiple avenues of support at the FT, including a sometimes frightfully busy Front Desk and an equally busy Slack channel. Having to juggle these channels, while also ensuring your workload from days before is up to date allows people to understand how to prioritise. Prioritising is a skill that takes time to learn and, as a leader, you have to understand that sometimes people will prioritise incorrectly. Understanding this is important, doing something and being decisive rather than pondering what should be done means you’re on the path to success.
Exposure and Opportunities
The opportunities to learn on a Service Desk are numerous, whether they are technical skills or building relationships with different people and teams. As mentioned above, we deal with a lot of queries ranging from password expiries and laptop breakages to bespoke applications that are supported by other teams. Exposure to what different IT teams do allows the team to understand what areas they would like to move into. Now, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Allowing people to then explore these areas is vital, while also helping them to understand that there is a journey within their current role and team first. This is important for everyone to understand, if you put in the hard work to build your foundations then the structure you build after will be far stronger.
Now that we have described our philosophy for nurturing talent, we will share the real life stories from some of the people that have benefited from it. People that built the foundations for a great career on the Service Desk and then moved to all sorts of different teams within the FT.