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.
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.
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 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.
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.