9 Keys to Building Successful Support Center Teams
Like most organisations, Wackie TEK has a variety of departments and includes a wide array of employees and positions. One key department that frequently interacts with all others is the IT department and, in particular, the help desk. Their mission is to support the branch offices and sales centers around the region and the country as well as all headquarters departments. The IT department is responsible for rolling out new software, maintaining hardware including telecom and, of course, supporting Wackie TEK’s value-added resellers.
While many in the IT department thought they were doing well, the fact was that over the past couple of years the help desk had fallen significantly short of their internal customer service goals. Their lack of follow-up frustrated many in the field. The resolution time had doubled over the previous year. They had experienced moderate turnover in the department, and the lack of consistency in knowledge affected virtually every department. National sales fell short of their projections for the first time more than a decade.
The executive team had been watching these challenges and knew a change needed to be made before they lost more market share. In February, they decided to completely overhaul the department. Kathryne was hired as the new Director of IT in mid-March. She knew she had to get to work quickly. Kathryne focused on nine team-essential keys.
- Success Begins with TRUST: Trust is the foundation of every successful team. Trust must flow up, down, and across all aspects of the team. Whenever a change in an organization occurs, it is not unusual for trust to deteriorate as team members feel like they need to look out for themselves. When this happens, trust erodes even more and, quite possibly, turnover may increase or you may see a drop in morale. Trust needs to be reestablished quickly. I’m not talking about predictive trust; what these teams need is vulnerability trust. Employees need to know that others on the team have their back.
- Results Happen with ENGAGEMENT: Once trust is established, getting everyone engaged becomes critical. The real challenge here is understanding that everyone is somewhat different. This understanding begins in the trust phase. As team members begin to trust, they become more engaged and want to help. They are then able to relate to each other more effectively. That, in turn, leads to more engagement from each member, and as engagement soars, productivity follows.
- Mutual ACCOUNTABLITY: Adding to the engagement process is holding each team member accountable for what they say they are going to do. It is also critical that, as the leader, Kathryne knew she had to hold everyone fully accountable. Of course, as a secure leader, she wanted the team to hold her equally accountable. This level of accountability increases the level of trust in the leader. Accountable does not mean that employees are rude to each other; it simply means holding each other accountable. When trust is strong, so is accountability.
- Passion for the MISSION: “Do what you love to do and you will never work another day in your life,” is an expression that has been around for years. When you have team members who are passionate about what they do, they want to learn. When they are passionate for the mission and what they do, then success can be limitless.
- SYNCHRONIZE across lines: The IT department is much more than one team and, as with trust, it is vital to the department’s success that they are in sync and effectively handing-off projects to other teams. It is not enough to simply solve one problem. Team members need to communicate when they have completed a phase that impacts other departments.
- Focus on RESULTS: As different teams begin to work more cohesively, focusing on results occurs naturally. Teams and individuals must never lose sight of the goals for both the team and department.
- 100% OWNERSHIP of Actions: Every successful team, regardless of industry, understands that everything they do reflects on the employee, the entire department, and the organization as a whole. ONE team, ONE dream. Equally important is that, regardless of the outcome, everyone on the team owns everything that the team does.
- CULTURE Is Core: It is important to recognize that the culture of an organization is more than just words on a wall. It is integral to the success of every team within the organization. Every team develops its own culture (good or bad). When the team has a focused culture, individual decisions are made to support that culture. With the right culture, individuals make the right decisions, and the team succeeds.
- Share Your KNOWLEDGE: The quote from John Kennedy, “A rising tide raises all ships” demonstrates the importance of sharing. Success breeds success, and when team members share their knowledge, the entire team wins. Of course, none of this is possible unless employees trust each other.
While all nine keys are essential, they do not have to be accomplished in order. With the recent change at Wackie TEK, many team members were worried about their positions and felt like they needed to look out for themselves, consequently, any trust they may have had was eroded. Kathryne immediately began focusing on reestablishing trust. She knew this would take time and also understood that, without trust, the results would never be realized.
Recognizing the importance of building vulnerability trust in setting a strong foundation, Kathryne began by getting everyone on the team to understand more about her as well as each other. Once employees felt vulnerable enough to share in this setting and became more comfortable with sharing their needs on the team, they felt empowered to ask for help when they needed it. They knew their teammates would support them and not stab them in the back.
Parallel to trust-building, Kathryne pulled together a small group of employees from different teams to help establish the core values of the department. It is critical that the teams develop these core values as the level of buy in is then much stronger. The only requirement Kathryne set was that the core values needed to be congruent with the overall mission, vision, and values of Wackie TEK.
Kathryne continued focusing on these nine keys and. Before long, team morale was up, productivity increased, and positive comments were coming in from across the country thanking them for their support, and saying they ROCK!