Each month, we invite thought leaders in the IT service and support sectors to weigh in on a pressing topic of the times. They reply with the lessons they’ve learned to pass onto others in the industry. Here’s this month’s question, and the responses from three thought leaders.
What tips would you share to ensure that each member of a team is pulling in the same direction (quality management) in a hybrid and remote work environment?
Agree on One North Star Metric
-Ben Brennan, Founder, QSTAC and ITXM.com
The journey to exceptional IT service delivery in the hybrid and remote era is a long journey over uncharted waters for many of us. If your employees or teams are rowing in different directions, or worse, in opposite directions, you'll never get where you're going. The two simple steps to easily have your team rowing in the same direction are providing a clear, shared definition for success and removing the incentives to row against that goal.
To clearly define a success, find one north star metric that everyone agrees is a measure of success. That's nothing new, as every world class team has a single north star metric for success. The hard part for most IT leaders is letting go of the structure they've imposed which incentivises behavior not in line with that definition of success.
Let's say our north star or XLA is improving our IT experience score by 4 points, but our technicians' performance reviews focus on first contact resolutions or closing x number of tickets per day. In this case, your team is incentivised to "row" in the direction of clicking the "resolved" button as often as possible, regardless of whether or not the “resolution” is a great IT experience, which is supposedly your north star metric. The focus shouldn't be on technicians performance; it should be on which behaviors we as leaders measure and reward.
Fine Tune Your Leadership Soft Skills
Dennis Gershowitz, Principal, DG Associates
I suggest you become a very engaged coach and mentor to your people. Focus on building their confidence and expertise, and adding clarity to the role they play and the outcomes expected.
Keep in mind that you may see these as disruptive times. However, your employees experience these times as being much more complex and disruptive than you likely imagine. Here is where your mastery of leadership soft skills become essential. You need to use empathy, be conscious of how effectively and frequently you communicate, and utilize self-management and your emotional intelligence.
Next, create an environment of success for your teams, one that allows them to collaborate and build strong relationships. Provide them with the tools that facilitate a blending of team members, whether they are in the office or remote. Do not forget the basics of the three-legged stool - people, processes, and technology.
Clearly Communicate the Mission and Objectives
-Roy Atkinson, CEO, Clifton Butterfield, LLC
Quality Management systems have six to eight principles, depending on where you look, but they often have a few key points in common. Customer focus is high on the lists, as is the involvement and engagement of people. What QM intends is to get the employees to recognize their role in providing services to consumers and customers at a consistent level.
Taking a page from Dean Meyer’s newest book, How Organizations Should Work: “Share information about the context (‘big picture’), where [a] deliverable fits, and anything else that could help them get the job done.”
In other words, clearly communicate the mission and objectives. When people understand those, it’s a lot easier to get them working together. If they don’t cooperate and collaborate, then that becomes a job performance issue.