Month: June 2020

IT Help desk technician: first weeks survival guide

Are you thinking about getting a job as an IT help desk technician? Or maybe you already have this job and you find it difficult to handle?

Are you in your first weeks in this position and you feel lost or not ready for the challenge? Does it feel like you will never know as much as your colleagues? Do you have the sensation that the training has nothing to do with the real job? Are you under the impression that you will never be able to handle all the cases that can appear and that you will never be able to master all the applications used in this job? Perhaps you even feel like this job is not for you or that you are not the right person for it. Do you feel scared and anxious by every call? Does the lack of knowledge make you feel like you want to quit after every call?

Well, let me tell you something very important: every feeling described above and any other similar ones are perfectly normal. I would be worried if you didn`t feel this way. I still remember my first days as an IT help desk technician; I was sure that I would fail. You know what, though? I didn’t. As a manager of helpdesk teams, I’ve met people who felt lost in their first weeks. I saw people crying, wanting to give up, but they survived. I would very much like to share with you a little survival guide for your first week as an IT help desk technician.

IT help desk technician

1.    Give yourself time

Every new job has its challenges. As an IT helpdesk technician you learn the art of communication, as well as the perimeter you cover. Studies say that we assimilate about 20% of the information we receive during the training. So, if at the end of the training period you feel like you’ve learned nothing, it`s fine. You`ll see that during your calls, you’ll start remembering everything step by step.

Don`t expect to learn everything from the beginning. No one expects this from you, so don`t be too hard on yourself. I know it`s not funny to be the new kid in town and you are impatient to be at the same level as other colleagues who were there beforehand, but be patient. This job is a continual learning process, one call at a time.

2.    Don’t get discouraged after a bad call

Did you have a bad interaction with a customer? Maybe you didn`t have a solution and he lost patience? I can assure you that even the most experienced help desk technicians have bad calls and bad days. The secret is to not take it personally. Let me put it this way: think about a moment when you called a helpdesk or a customer care number. Normally we called them when we have a problem. When you have an issue you get more impatient than usual, more irritated and you tend to lose calm easier than usual.

If a caller gets angry, keep in mind that there might a big chance he was already mad when he dialed your number. Don’t take his anger personally, be empathic, try to put yourself in his shoes and win him over instead. Maybe you won`t manage to do this right from the start, but if you are constant and keep doing your best, results will eventually appear.

The first calls can be scary. At this stage, you still don’t possess the knowledge nor the experience to deal with all kinds of users. It’s totally fine, just take your time and don’t let the pressure overwhelm you.
Keep in mind that you have colleagues that are there to help you; the best way to face the first calls is to stay calm and try to assure the users that you will find a solution for them. You can always ask them kindly to wait while you do search for a solution.

Don`t be afraid to ask for help.

As I said before being the new kid in town is no fun, but it also has its advantage. No one should get annoyed if you ask questions. Do not hesitate to ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask for confirmation. Ask for more information if something is not clear for you. It`s normal to not know everything and helping each other is what teams do. There are no stupid questions, only people to afraid to ask.

3.    It is not necessary to know everything

Trust me, most of your team mates don`t know everything, even if it seems like they do. Of course, they have more calls and more cases to handle and they seem so at ease with this job, don`t they? Well, the secret to know how and where to find the information.

Each IT help desk technician can develop his/her own “knowledge” organization. Some keep a note book, others Microsoft Word documents with all the cases they encounter. Normally all the solutions and procedures should be in the knowledge base, but since IT is a field that develops rapidly, there are chances you might not find everything in there. What to do in this case? Well, make Google your best friend. Check the oldest tickets to see if a colleague had similar incidents before. The ticketing tool is a great knowledge base as it has all the cases that were previously treated by your team.

And again, do not be afraid to ask for help.

ask for help

4.    Be curious

As I said in the previous point, you have various ways to get the information. Do not limit yourself. Consult the knowledge base you have at your disposal. Search on the internet. Check IT related forums. If you have a case with an error message, copy it and put it on Google. There are pretty good chances that at least one person before you have had the same error message and found a solution.

I know that in the first week it can be scary to try new things, to go beyond a procedure, but this is not an excuse for not being curious. Search for information, try new solutions, think out of the box and learn who knows what on your team.

Usually, in an IT help desk team, each member has a preference and he/she’s an expert in a certain area. Get to know your colleagues, see who knows how to deal with the printers, learn from the one who is the guru of Excel and so on. They will be more than happy to share with you their knowledge as the faster you learn, the better for the team.

5.    Communicate with your leader

When you feel lost and consider quitting, don`t do it. At least not before talking to your team leader. He/She will probably remind you why you were hired and will tell you the story of other team members who had the same feeling in the beginning. He/She can help you identify the causes of your frustrations and solve them.

6.    Don’t quit

Being an IT help desk technician is not easy and in the beginning is almost unbearable. Once you surpass the “critical” period, there is a big chance you will get to love this job. Here you can find an article I wrote about why being an IT helpdesk technician is cool.

Be kind to yourself, take time to learn and do not be afraid of asking for help or even of failing. It`s part of the job!

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What Are Your First Steps As A Team Leader?

~Guest Post~

team leader

You got hired when they saw something in you. You’ve done everything to meet and exceed expectations. You’ve proven beyond a doubt to deliver profits and you work great with everyone. They’ve now called you into an office, where instead of reprimanding you, they are highly praising you for your work. They inform you that since you are a great team player, you are going to be promoted to team leader.

A team leader is someone who advises, counsels, or directs a group of individuals towards the purpose of achieving a common goal. With this new position of team leader comes a nice bonus and a raise along with a ton more responsibility. You’re excited about it and know you want to do your best and be your best. What you didn’t encounter was the fact that you are no longer the co-worker of your team members, but now you are their leader and it puts you into a whole new position with them. These are some steps to set yourself up for success.

As you read through, ask yourself one question, is it better to be feared or respected?

Introducing Yourself As Team Leader

Some of your team is going to be happy for you, some of your team is going to be jealous of you, and some of your team is going to outright hate you because you got the position and they did not. You need to establish that you are here to ensure the company continues to function, and despite the fact that you are in a new position should not take away or give your team any right to disrespect you. You are leading them and on a mission to ensure your company remains profitable.

Right off the bat, you should understand who has an issue with you and clear up the nonsense, as a non-functioning member who is not on board with you is going to make your company question why they made you a team leader in the first place. Clear up any communication, miscommunication, and earn the respect of your team by calling a meeting to ensure everyone knows what your new position is and what your responsibilities are.

If you are not sure yourself, you will need to speak with your Human Resources department to ask any questions about your new responsibilities.

You Are A Team Leader, Not (only) A Team Friend

Don’t get me wrong, you are absolutely going to try and be friendly towards your team, but there is a thin line between friendship and being a leader to your team. While you will be friendly, have an open-door policy with your team, and always be willing to listen to your team, you are still a leader that is in charge of a team.

Outside of work hours, you may certainly be friends with your team, though you may want to establish boundaries early. There is no way you want to be caught drunk with a team member of yours recording you on their cell phone and then showing the higher bosses or HR what you look like when you’re drunk. Should you ever hang out with your co-workers, while you can trust them, always hold back the full trust, and ensure you remain proper and responsible in their presence. If you know your limits on alcohol, do not exceed or even if you can, avoid it altogether.

Your team is a group of human beings who you are now managing. Your relationship with your team is to ensure they remain the most valuable and resourceful assets for your company. After all, your company chose you to be the leader.

Respect Your Team and They Will Respect You

It is very easy to let the newfound position of power go to your head. Most supervisors, managers, and bosses are hardly good leaders and most of them are not required to even take a course on being a leader. They usually got their position because they put on a great show from the beginning and earned it, but somehow, became more relaxed or changed once they saw the new paycheck and were given more direction and power over the entire team.

Communication is always going to be your key with your team. With your new position, you are probably no longer following your old list of things to do but now you have a new list of things to do that requires you to utilize certain team members to their fullest extent.

When you begin to think like a team, you will also begin to act like a team. To get your team to respect you, you need to not only get to know your team, but come up with challenges that help them learn new things, acquire new skills, and express their talents.

Do not buy your team’s respect. While it is certainly okay to bring in donuts and coffee or even pizza once in a while to celebrate the latest success of an assignment from a client, you should never pay anyone to like you. Respect is earned, not bought.

Knowing Your Team

As comes with the territory of communication, you need to know the strengths and weaknesses of team members. There are some people who are never going to turn weakness into strengths and that is okay. Try where you must, but assign the proper strengths to where they are best utilized. Your company does not care about how you make it happen. They are about the results.

Setting up an activity once a week that allows you and your team to work on a few hours assignment that allows your team members to get to know each other, communicate, and have fun together while overcoming the challenge together will allow you to see their strengths, know their weaknesses, and learn how they work together and act together as well as function as a team together.

Trusting Your Team To Complete The Mission

As you are there to be a team leader, you are there to be their leader. Dress properly. Carry yourself well. Never be afraid of communicating with your team. Do not call them out and it is far better to be respected than feared. When you are feared, your team will only do things to please you to get you to go away. Trust your team to do what they need to do. Give them some leeway and train them to function somewhat without you, as you do not want to be micromanaging your team, watching over their shoulders, and basically letting them see that you really don’t trust them.

Work together with your team to drill the idea of being a team together to ensure you can complete the goals of your company in a timely manner. A good leader knows his team wants to work and wants to ensure not only they look good, but their team leader looks great as well. They are representing you and you are representing them. If you are not syncing up, then communicate and start thinking of each other as family because honestly, you see your team probably even more than you actually see your family.

You’ve done it, you’re a team leader. Now you have the steps to act like one. In your spare time, read up on being a good leader and what good leadership is, and you’ll not only earn the respect of your team, but you’ll continue to show your company why they made a great choice in choosing you as the team leader.

Read more from Matthew Gates at

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This is not a good-bye. It’s a thank you

This month, two of my team members will leave the team. One of them is pregnant and the other got an opportunity to grow on another project in our company.

Having two good people leaving the project at the same time is not easy to handle. The dynamic of the team changes and I can say that their departure represents the end of an era. 

When people leave your team you don`t lose only their knowledge, but also their spirit, their emotions and their personal touch. Each member of a team is unique and brings different skills and attributes to it; having a member leaving is like losing a piece of a puzzle.

Most of the times when people leave you wonder why? In this specific case though I am at ease with their departure as they don`t leave because of negative reasons, but because of objective ones. So, this post is not an answer to why people leave their jobs, but a thank you note for my team members who have other missions.

thank you

Dear mother-to-be,

I remember the day we had our first discussion, when I presented you the project and tried to recruit you on my team. It was love at first sight. I was beyond happy to be informed that you accepted the challenge.

You learned so fast and you aced the integration. After only a few days it felt like you were on our team from the beginning and I knew you belonged with us.

Your implication and evolution amazed me and I feel lucky for having a person like you in my team. You are intelligent, reliable, creative and I am happy we got to work together.

You are an important member of the team, a good friend and a great listener. I am grateful for all the feedback I had from you, for all the heart to heart conversations. Your presence made the days at work better.

Never doubt yourself! You are amazing!

You will be an amazing mother and I cannot wait to meet your child. Please rest assured that you remain a part of the team and we`ll be waiting for you to come back.

Dear second-level to-be,

You made a difference on our team and you rocked it! Me and you both know how many failures there had been on this position before your arrival on the team and you understood right away what was at stake.

You went the extra-mile and this won the admiration and the appreciation of the team, of the client and mine. That`s also one of the reasons you got the opportunity to achieve a higher-profile position and I have no doubt that you will rock it.

I am beyond proud of you for all your work and especially for all the battles you’ve won against yourself. I knew you had great potential and I am glad you’ve already got the chance to exploit it and continue to evolve.

You will be deeply missed and your roles won’t be easy to fulfill.

I would like to tell you both a big thank you, from the bottom of my heart. This team has been so amazing thanks to you too. You both are super heroes and you will not be forgotten.

I already miss you, but I am happy for everything that awaits you!

Thank you guys!

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