All about A team

Ok, maybe not all. At least not from the first post.

On my laptop, I have a sticker with a bunch of amazing people. I have so many beautiful things to say about them, that I am not really sure in which order to start their presentation. In this picture, it is my local team. I mentioned the “local”, because a part of our team is away, in another country. I`ll tell you more about managing a long-distance team in another post, it has a lot in common with a long-distance relationship, but now let’s focus on the team members that have to deal with me (almost) every day.

We are working in the IT area, in a service center. Some could call it a call center, but for us it’s a bit of a difference because in the call center you deal with final customers. For instance, at a call center you receive calls from the people who are using a service, such as telephony services. In a service center, it’s a bit more sophisticated, as our “customers”, or “users” as we like to call them, are the employees of another company and not its clients. All that to say that we are offering IT support to the employees of our client. So, if one user has an IT issue, he calls us. He has other ways of contacting us also, but I wouldn’t like to forget the purpose of this: presenting you my team.

about a team

My team members are my heroes: they all speak two or more foreign languages, they handle calls in different languages, they are patient, they are kind, they are polite and nice. Oh, and did I tell you that they are also innovative, always coming with improvement ideas and going the extra-mile each and every day? Sounds like the ideal team, isn’t it? Well, it is.

I won`t lie to you, we have bad days also, but together, as a team, we find ways to move forward. Sometimes, we learn it the hard way, some days one of us are not in the mood for science, but at the same time, you can always find someone who cheers us all up.

We started working on this project 2 years ago. We celebrated the 2 years some days ago. The team is pretty stable and I guess our secret is that we enjoy working together. I plan to tell you a lot about how we work together, how we make things better, how we motivate each other, how we handle the relationship with the team at distance, how we handle difficult users, how we manage to achieve our sla (service level agreement) on a long term, how we handle conflicts as team, but for now, I want only to say thank you to my great team who inspired the existence of this site and almost everything that you will be reading here.
My heroes, thank you!

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!

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

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!

Don`t be your “label”

Have you ever failed so badly that you were labeled a “low performer” or “the one who lost a client”? Have you ever been in the wrong place, where you were labeled the outsider because you did not fit in? At some point maybe you were new in a role and you were labeled “the junior” who will fail with no doubts. 

Have you ever been given the label of being too loud, too rebel or too different?

Have you ever had a tough period in your life that impacted your work and caused you to be labeled as “not good enough”?

Have you ever disappointed someone at your workplace with a behavior that you regret now, even though at that time it was the best you could be?

Have you ever been labeled based on your behavior or results under circumstances that did or did not depend on you?

If you were in such situations or similar ones before, keep reading.

You adopted the “label”

In my leadership career, at some point I took over another manager’s position. The team was already formed and it was my first time joining a team that was already built. As I previously stated in another post, I failed. Big time! I failed so badly, that my job was put in danger and this is not even the worst part of this story. My team rejected me and each day was a nightmare. This is kind of a happy-ending story though because with a mentor that I encountered in that period and with other managers who didn`t lose faith in me, things got better.

This is not about how I handled the failure though, but rather about the label I put on myself. Yes, you read correctly. I put a label on myself. The “failure” label, the “almost got fired” label, the “not good enough” label. I could go on and on with the list of labels I put on my head at that time.

The awful thing about these labels is that I wore them in permanence. Sometimes I managed to keep them hidden, at least until the moment a new failure appeared around me. Even if we`re talking about a little failure or a low difficulty moment, the labels showed up to remind me that I was most likely going to fail. Because if I failed in the past, why not failing again? Furthermore, I was convinced that everyone else was expecting me to fail just to validate my labels. I was living under the impression that the others labeled me. Maybe they did, but I did so too. Then, how can I blame them?


The risk of becoming your “label”

When you wear a label you tend to act accordingly. In my case the “failure” label hunts me very often. I feel the need and the urge to prove my labels to be wrong. If something goes wrong, I feel like everyone will say: “of course she failed. She’s done it before and apparently she’s learned nothing”.

If you focus too much on these labels, you risk to become all that they represent. You are not only your failures. Learn to take into consideration your achievements as well.

You are not your “label”

We are humans. Some of us strive for perfection. But let`s be honest. We`re not perfect so failure is part of our DNA. But this does not mean that failure defines us. It doesn`t mean that if we fail, we earn a label immediately. Yes, maybe we`ll fail again. Maybe we`ll fail more than others or in different ways.

Sometimes you fail because you don`t know better, other times because you are in the wrong place or because you were not prepared. It doesn`t matter. You are not your label. Don`t let it take a toll on you. Don`t go around showing it off as if it was that award for bad movies. Do not act like a consequence of that label. Avoid becoming your label!

you are enough

How to get over your labels

  • I`m not saying that you must forget your failures. Not at all. Failures have their role in your journey. Do not forget them, but change the way you look at them: take the failures as valuable lessons;
  • Acknowledge what went wrong and make things right. Make things better.
  • Find a person you trust and talk about this. You`ll be surprised to find out that he is not perfect either.
  • Regain trust in yourself. Look how far you have gone!
  • Count your success stories too!
  • Measure your progress. You`ll be amazed of how much you have learned and how much you have grown.
  • Don`t allow others define you and your actions.

You are not your labels! Let them go. It`s time, you survivor! 😉

Service Desk Manager: a glimpse of my journey

Some might think that being a manager is easy. You have people around you doing your job, you get to stay in meetings all day and you make reports and statistics. You delegate your tasks and the rest of the time you supervise the others doing them. It sounds like a dream job, right?

Well, let me tell you a secret: most of the time, things are not what they seem. When you are the manager of a service desk team, let’s say it is kind of a challenge. I said “service desk manager” because I want to share from my own experience on this role. Maybe in other areas the things are similar, but here I want to share some steps from my journey as a service desk manager.

When having this role, you are caught between your team, your upper management and your client.

The team

As a team manager, you need to be there for your team. You need to assure your team that you care about them, that you fight for them. That you protect them. They need to know that you will always have their back.

You need to be able to tell them what they have to do. To lead them through change. To guide them. To motivate them and keep them motivated.

You have to listen to them. To understand and defend their interests. To cheer them up even when you feel down. To stay positive even during storms or difficult times.

To put their interests first. To help them grow. To help them learn. To let them go if there is a better opportunity for them on the way.

team; team manager

To keep calm. To give them feedback with kindness. To never forget that once you were in their place. To know when they need a break.

To admit when you`re wrong. To make things better. To put people first. Always.

To handle conflicts. To encourage the team member who feels lost. To help him find its way.

To handle depression of a team member. To stay up late if one of your team members feels lonely and needs someone to talk to.

To help them build confidence in themselves. To identify their strengths and handle their weaknesses. To believe in them even when they don’t do that anymore. To be their support even when they let you down. To be happy for their achievements and to celebrate them and to help them when they fail.

This list is longer, but you get the point.

The management

The management is usually very business oriented. They care about numbers, reports, statistics, optimization.

They set their expectations and your objectives. The upper management pays your salary at the end of the month. They make the rules. Sometimes they are inflexible and all they want are results, no matter the costs, the consequences or the measures. Sometimes they don`t present the big picture. Other times they give to many details. With them, it’s mostly corporate political games and they need you to be politically correct. By the way, I hate this “politically correct” thing. For me, it’s just a diplomatic way to tell a lie or to hide things or to say hurtful truths wrapped in beautiful words.

If you are lucky, you meet some good managers during your journey. I was lucky enough to meet one who became my mentor and I learned a lot from him. But about this I`ll tell you another time.

The client

client, service desk client

What the client needs from you is to keep his users happy, to propose innovations and to find solutions. He wants you to keep close to him, to give him visibility and to provide the expected results and more if possible. He wants you to earn his trust by keeping your word and achieving the service level agreements. He needs you to be creative, to put his needs first. He wants you to be committed, involved and at his disposal. He needs you to think out of the box, to send the report in an hour, to organize an extra project in no time and mobilize everyone to do the job.

Sometimes, the client needs you to cut costs. To optimize. To automatize. To adjust.

He needs you to be open to change and to get everyone to be on board with the changes.

The service desk manager

In this case, me. As I wrote in the beginning of this “story”, I am kind of in the middle between my team, my upper management and my client. I need to be fully aware of what each of them needs and wants and try to fulfill their expectations. Sometimes there is a conflict between what all of them want and it`s the moment when the challenge appears. Because I have to find a way to keep them in high spirits. And is not always an easy task accomplish. And sometimes you fail to do that and you lose your team. Or your client. Or even your job.

So next time when you think your manager is there only to annoy you, think twice. Next time when you have the impression that he has too much free time or he spent too much time in the lunch break, think again.

Be kind to your manager. Between the team, the upper management and the client, in various occasions he leaves apart his own needs only to keep everyone else happy.  Sometimes things are out of his control and he doesn’t have a say on some decisions that are made.

Being a service desk manager is not easy. Some days it`s harsh, complicated and frustrating. But at the end of the day, when the storm passes, it is a very rewarding job. And I love every second of it.

I have some stormy days but writing these words helped me remind myself why I`m doing this job and why I love it so much. And I am sure I`ll survive this and I`ll get out of as a better version of myself.

15 Management Don’ts

This is a list of 15 management “don’ts” I came up with these days, after suffering a work-related disappointment.

What would you add to this list?

management don'ts
  1. Don`t assume you are always right;
  2. Don`t treat your people with disrespect;
  3. Don’t lie;
  4. Don’t think you are the smartest person in the room;
  5. Don’t believe that all your team members will react in the same way to things;
  6. Don`t look down on the people you work with;
  7. Don’t judge;
  8. Don’t forget that you are working with people who have feelings and emotions;
  9. Don’t ignore the opinions of your team members;
  10. Don’t give up on your principles and values, under any circumstances;
  11. Don’t quit;
  12. Don’t let pride to lead your actions;
  13. Don’t make people feel little so you can feel big;
  14. Don’t lose faith in people;
  15. Don’t play dirty games.

I have no doubt that the “management don’ts” list is way longer. And each experience teaches as what to do, as well as what to no to or quit doing. Which one is the first “don’t” you will integrate on your list?

To not end this reading in a negative note, here you have my “Be a leader who serves” post. It is focused more on what to do rather than what to avoid.

Be kind, listen to your team. Be honest. Be an example. Trust your people. Be humble. Be open. Be supportive.

Your team needs you to be the best version of yourself!

If you want to add “dont’ts” in the “management don’ts” list, do not hesitate to leave your thought in the comments field.

Be a leader who serves

In my early days as a team leader, I was living under the impression that people in my team will follow me and will do what I ask them do to because I am their boss. After a while, the reality hit me and I found out the hard way that having the word “leader” in the job title doesn’t necessarily make you one.

Whilst going down, from failure to failure, I had a talk with this senior manager who told me something that upset me at that time: “as a leader, your main role is to serve your team.” I confess that it was a shock to me because this idea contradicted every single thing I imagined about the meaning of leadership. But as my methods didn’t work as expected, I decided to give it a try and this is what I learned; these are some traits of a leader who serves the people on his team:


A leader who listens

Being able to listen is very important as a leader. Sometimes we tend to impose our opinions, make others listen to us and approve what we’re saying. A leader who serves should leave his/her ego apart, shouldn`t judge and should be open to listening. Most people want to be heard. And you know what? You will hear great ideas, great inputs, improvement recommendations. You will get to know your team members, to see how they work. What motivates them. You get to create bonds.

When you learn to listen properly to others, you find out more about their needs, about their dreams, about their career plans. You determine how you can serve them upon their feedback and this is a basic of a strong team work.

A leader who tells the truth, no matter what

When you are set at serving the others, lies don’t fit well. Being there for your team involves being transparent and standing for your truths and values.

Choose to be honest even if you`re afraid of people’s reactions. Sometimes telling lies seems the easy way. But as easy as it might be, it could lead to losing your team’s trust. At some point I had a situation on my team; I had to let go of one member of the team. Some voices advised me to keep it quiet, as the news could scare all the other members of the team and make them look for jobs elsewhere, ending up losing them all. What did I do? I told them the truth. I explained the situation and I assured them that their job is not in danger. And you know what? They stayed. And they appreciated the honesty.

truth; honesty

I ask for my team members to be honest. To trust me. To communicate even when bad things happen and try and find solutions together. How could I ask them all these if I don`t give them the same “treatment”?

Your team members are intelligent human beings with a great power of understanding. Try them. Be transparent. Always tell the truth. In the end, truth will always come out, so why not letting it come out from you?

No matter how bad the truth is, a lie is always worse and so is hiding the truth.

A leader who protects his team

When something bad happens or things go south, the leader who serves must face the situation head on. He/she takes responsibility and doesn’t throw anyone else under the bus. Of course, if it`s a team member the one who did wrong some measures will be taken privately and of course, with kindness. In front of upper management, client or no matter what other external part, the leader assumes and protects the team, always. The team needs to know that the leader has their backs.

A leader who sees the best in people

We are all humans, with good and not so good parts. We have moments when our worst part comes to light. Because we had a bad day. Or a difficult customer to handle. Or maybe it`s just not a good day for science. Maybe we are brilliant at some tasks, but we aren’t able to respect a deadline. A great leader sees the best in people and helps them improve the aspects that need to be worked on.

A leader who creates a good work environment

When you are set to serve others, you make sure that your team has a positive work environment. This is a place where people feel safe and comfortable. We spend a lot of time at work so we cannot afford to not make it be a good place. A good work environment is not only the physical place but the atmosphere. There is no room for tensions or conflicts. Of course when people work together, conflicts can happen but if the positive grounds are set, solutions will be found in no time.  One of my main objectives is to make my colleagues feel good at work. I want them to find something to enjoy at work and I like finding ways to make their days more pleasant at work. When people are happy they are motivated and we get to do great things together. The well-being of the team members is essential to build trust, respect, loyalty and motivation. The team members must know how important they are and what an important role they play in the team.

A leader who leads by example

When you promote a thing but you do the opposite, your credibility is lost. And I know from experience that when you lose trust, you lose everything.

When you ask your team to perform an action and you perform it the other way around, you lose respect. When you are in a leading position, people tend to look up to you. Don`t let them down!

A leader who trusts his team

As I said earlier we ask our teams to trust us but if the feeling is not mutual, it loses value. Trust your team. Empower them. There are a lot of things that they can make a lot better then you. Be there for them to support them when they need it, to serve them and to offer them the necessary to accomplish the mission, but let them be. Most importantly do and act!

trust, leader

Provide them also with information. When a problem appears put it out there and find a solution together. Don`t hide it from them, don`t assume they won`t understand or that they don`t care.

Be a leader who serves. Make the workplace a better place for your team. Be there for them. Help them learn. Support them to evolve. Get better together. Be a leader who serves!

How to handle a toxic colleague

Throughout my experience as manager, I have stumbled across toxic colleagues. Such people can jeopardize a career or a team. As normally we spend a lot of time in the office, it is important to maintain a positive work environment and a pleasant atmosphere.

I am fairly certain that some people are currently dealing with this so it crossed my mind to write something helpful on this topic: How to handle a toxic co-worker.

How to identify a toxic colleague?

You must know them, these people with whom nothing is going well and who are never happy. They always have a good reason to complain, their missions exasperate them, their time and stress management is weak, they were never given the right mission, the right responsibilities, and the right tools. According to them, they always meet all the problems in the world. Everything prevents them from moving forward, they never have a chance to do anything.

They often let everyone know about this discomfort and share it at the coffee machine or via chat tools. It is the place where these people are the most dangerous, because they are eminently attractive to listen to. After all, aren’t we all stressed to some extent? Do we not carry in our DNA an overdeveloped critical spirit? And then it’s sometimes nice to complain, right?

You will also identify them during team meetings. They will often adopt a negative attitude in their posture and words, always expressing negative criticism or demotivation.

These behaviors can kill the team’s motivation and pull everyone down.

How to Deal with a Toxic Colleague?

Before drawing any hasty conclusions and dismissing a toxic employee, it is necessary to take the time to analyze the situation in more depth and to identify if something is problematic to him or her. They may simply not understand the company’s vision or may have strayed from your team and company’s goals.

However, they may also have personal problems or may not feel appreciated at work. If you want your team to be healthier, you need to find the root of the problem.

In order for this to happen, communication is key. It is very important to ask him/her what he/she thinks about the situation, then give him/her direct feedback and explain the consequences of his/her behavior. You should let the employee know that you will analyze his behavior and give him written feedback followed by a coaching plan for improvement.

Also, it is very important to put yourself under the question mark: did you encourage this behavior? Did you do something to create frustrations? If the answer is positive, an honest discussion about it could solve the issue faster than you thought.

If you have tried everything and the toxic employee continues to affect the productivity of his co-workers and well-being at work, the only thing left to do is to help him find opportunities outside of your team before he causes more harm. With this said, you must also be aware that there are several types of toxic people. In this context, you should deal with each of them individually.

The Gossip Whisperer

This type of toxic colleague is not easy to manage, because many people in the office can appreciate him/her. However, giving him/her something to focus on can help him/her ground his/her communication skills and channel his/her energy into something productive.

gossip, toxic colleague

The Sociopath

The sociopathic employee leaves traces of destruction wherever he/she goes. It causes a hostile environment, ruins the morale of the team and can seriously damage the reputation of the business. He/she often repeats harassing behavior and shows little regard for rules and protocols. He has a problem with authority and is particularly good at manipulating and sabotaging.

By putting in place strict anti-harassment policies within your company and creating a safe and caring environment, you can help prevent this from happening. Carefully document negative behaviors and trust your gut. If you receive many complaints about the same employee, it may be time to get rid of them.

The one who takes everything personally

This one thinks that every decision ever made in the team or in the company was made only to harm him. Every change was made only to piss him off. Every “instructions” mail was sent only to make his life harder (even if the e-mail was received by all the team members).

This is usually a cry for attention and people like this just want to be heard. Book a one on one with this person, let her talk. Ask questions and take time to listen the answers. You will be surprised how many good ideas these persons could have.

Make this person responsible of something he/she complained about. If he/she complained about the planning of the team, invite him/her to propose his/her version. This toxic colleague will see that the task was not as easy as imagined and will stop complaining about it or he/she will come with a better version of it. This is what I call a win/win situation.

The one who blames anyone else for his own mistakes

He can never be the guilty one. If something bad happened, it was the manager, the fellow colleagues or anyone other than him. Even when it is obviously his fault, he points the finger towards another person, thing or event. And he genuinely believes it.

Sometimes, this kind of attitudes comes from persons who are insecure at the workplace. Maybe a discussion about the tasks he/she cannot manage would be helpful, as well as a training offer on those topics.

The Reaction

The first reaction of your collaborator will be interesting to analyze. The right people will take the initiative positively and move forward. The other type of collaborators will probably have an air of doe caught in the headlights, because if criticizing is pleasant, working to solve a problem is much less.

toxic colleague

The results

After all these steps are done, follow closely the work of your colleague. Several scenarios are possible:

Scenario 1: The attitude issue is solved. This is the most rewarding scenario for all the parties involved in this story: manager, employee, team. And everyone will live happily ever after.

Scenario 2: Your toxic colleague also breaks his teeth on the problem. He will then understand that criticism is easy, but art is difficult. Failure will usually have two impacts:

  • He/she will learn humility and will now moderate his remarks internally. You will thus have succeeded in limiting his toxicity and saved your team.
  • He/she will not accept this failure and will do everything to leave the team or the company. The toxic cloud will pollute other skies.

 Sometimes, letting people go can be perceived as a personal failure. Try to avoid this thought.

Some jobs are not made for everyone and some people cannot be fixed or do not want to get better. Do your best, communicate, plan and do actions, but in the end, do what’s best for your team!

Service Desk team: The 4 “Musts” for great achievements

As a technician or even as a team leader, being part of a service desk team is challenging. Sometimes it’s like walking through a park and other times it’s like a ride on a rollercoaster or wandering in the Jurassic Park, as a colleague of mine used to say. It’s always a struggle between your client’s requests, your manager’s targets, your co-workers’ needs and your objectives. Sometimes all these things aren’t “on the same” page and you have to come up with a way to get the work done.

From my experience, these are the 4 “must” that will help to fulfill the requirements and satisfy the needs of every part involved in the project: client, users, team members, management.

1. People

As much as I hate the expression “human resources”, the “human” in it makes it bearable, you just have to ignore the “resources”. Maybe I am idealistic, but I think that in a period where companies promote hashtags like “people matter”, “people first”, “it is about the people” and so on, we should get rid of “resources” and adopt a more “human” mentality.

I know that a lot of top management considers employees just numbers or revenue, but at the end of the day, aren’t we all just humans? I am so pleased to see how in these COVID-19 difficult times, we are reminded how important people are! I really hope this will not be forgotten after returning to “normal”.

people; team; service desk team

In my humble opinion, people are the central pillar in any project. The success or the failure of a project depends on how the people work on it. In my service desk team, we depend a lot on each other. For the mission to be accomplished, it takes a team of good people:

-who understand the objectives

-who have the answer to “why are we doing this”

-who are engaged

-who have common goals

-who are loyal to the common purposes

As a manager of a service desk team, I know that without my team, my job would be (almost) useless. They are the heroes that are doing the hard work. And I know some of my roles are to serve them, to create a suitable work environment and to support them in their career paths.

One person can make the difference, so again, people are important and should be treated accordingly. If your focus is not on the people, don’t bother to read any further.

2. Communication

Communication is a key. Each time I have to recruit a new member for my team, I make sure I inform him/her about the importance of communication. When someone joins my team, his/her “onboarding process” starts with a “lecture” about communication. The members of my team will smile while reading this, because they are really familiar with what I am about to say.

I always tell new members of my team that for me communication is very important and I ask them to come to talk to me about any work-related issues and not only. I insist that they come to see me when they make a mistake. Why? Because in 99% of the cases I will hear about it anyways. But, if I know it from the beginning, maybe we can solve it together or at least diminish the impact of the said mistake; and more importantly we can find what caused that mistake and try to avoid it in the future.

I always tell this true story about a girl and a team meeting. We had the meeting, she started to tell me something and at some point, someone interrupted her and my attention switched to the other person. In the next week, I observed that this girl kept some distance from me so I went to her and asked her what happened. She told me that she was displeased that in the meeting I ignored what she was saying and I let another person talk, therefore not paying attention to what she had to say.  If I wouldn`t asked her, I would`ve never guessed why she was bothered.

My point is that sometimes we create frustrations to the people around us without even knowing we did. That’s why it is important to communicate, to talk about things.

I won’t insist more on this topic, but you got the point.

3. Knowledge

knowledge; service desk

Knowledge is power! During these COVID-19 times, the fact that my team acquired a high level of knowledge helped us managing our activity even with all the social distancing story. Of course, we communicate a lot and discuss about the cases we have, because each one of us has his/her strong points, but the basics are totally mastered by everyone. Even more than necessary.

We have also a good knowledge base that can be accessed by every member of the team and that is updated when needed. Besides that, every new “discovery” made by a team member is immediately shared with all the whole team. When we don’t have a solution, we search for it, we try workarounds, we go the extra mile.

It is important to have a knowledge base that is accessible to everyone and know where to find and how to use it. I will ask my knowledge manager to write more about this topic, so I won’t give you more details for now.

4. Quality

The quality of the provided services makes the difference between a good team composed by great people who have communication skills and have the knowledge and other teams who focus more on quantity or any other thing.

In the service desk field, we deal with people mostly via phone. We cannot rely on the help of the body language to make a good impression.  So our interactions must be impeccable. I’m not talking about standard scripts and talking like a little robot. I am talking about being empathic, assuring the interlocutor that he/she called the right number and his/her problem is half-solved already only because he/she decided to call us. Because we are good people who have mastered communication and have the knowledge to help him/her.

quality; service desk

I was once asked the what makes a call perfect and my answer was the following: when I call the service-desk, I want to feel that the person at the other side understands my issue. That he/she doesn’t make me feel bad for having the issue or for not knowing how to solve it by myself. I expect from the service desk agent to be empathic, to not make me feel like I disturbed him, but to assure me that he/she’s understands what I need and he/she’ll solve it for me as soon as possible. Even today, I stand for my answer.

Having the right people on your team, encouraging and mastering the communication, having and sharing the knowledge and pouring the sweet sugar of quality on top, represents a powerful basis for great achievements.