Here is the secret sauce.

by Delcia Marrs
Date Published May 20, 2024 - Last Updated May 20, 2024

Your organization may be divided into different segmentsBy service, by product, by division/department, by business unit, geographical, or others.  Each one of them will have teams that comprise of at least one or more individuals.  These individuals have specific skillsets and provide service and support to your customers, users and stakeholders within your organization. 

If you experience a service disruption that has high impact on your internal and/or external customers, it is expected that you have the policies and processes in place to deal with such a disruption. You may need to bring in subject matter experts from other teams or third-party vendors to diagnose, investigate, look at root cause, possible fixes, test, and hopefully arrive at an ultimate plan to restore services.

Keeping the lights on is no easy featIt takes determination, motivation, co-ordination, co-operation and collaboration to work holistically so that negative interruptions are, at the minimum, mitigatedThe business side is covered, but, what about the organic componentyour employeesThe individuals who have the expertise and knowledge that are counted on each and every day to do what they do best, all of a sudden, are not able to perform due to illness, family issues, mental wellness concerns, or unforeseen circumstancesYou now have a gapWhat is your Plan B?Being prepared for any ‘human’ eventuality will set you up for success


Weekly Team Meetings That Include Other Team Members

An inspiring vision with clear distinct goals and objectives will motivate and empower your team to move in the same direction Plan aheadWhat is happening the following week or within the monthWill there be conflicts around changes to be deployed by various teams that may potentially conflictAre there enhancements that need a little more work to developDo some problems require more in-depth analysis and resources beyond your scopeInviting employees from other teams cements a more stable, committed, and knowledgeable relationshipIn addition, these meetings should be run by your team membersLeadership is there to support and facilitateOther than that, their voice should be expressed without judgementThey will have a much wider and more cohesive relationship when there is interaction with various groups within your organization.  Having mutual respect, open and honest communication are the foundations of strong teams.  Keep interactions on a continual cycle.


Dedicate Time to Learn New Skills

As each passing day blends into the next, we continue to evolve and progress to make things better than what they are right nowEmbrace continual learningGive your employees ample opportunity to upgrade or learn new skillsGive them secondment opportunities, or, dedicated time throughout the week or month to work with other teams.   You have many voices within your team and some may be louder than othersMake sure it is all inclusiveIt’s a win-win when a team has a good strategy to deal with knowledge gaps and a great opportunity for employees to step in and show their commitment which can lead to great career prospect advancements.


Involve Stakeholders, Customers, End-Users

Back in the ‘before time’ (which really wasn’t all that long ago), I.T. was more of an enabler for an organizationNow, it is a true strategic partner and working hand in hand across the business It is a celebration of how far we have progressed in the professional world.  

Keep your customers informed if key support staff will be away for a specific timeframeWhether it’s short-, medium-, or long-term, be honest and transparent on what can be worked on during that periodIn most cases, it will likely be day to day sustainment activitiesIn others, it could be enhancement or project deadlines.  You may likely need to break down the work across a longer period of time, or work on a more pressing feature and leave the others for a later time.  The idea is to consult and inform your customers, end-users and stakeholdersThey will certainly be a lot more ‘forgiving’ when they are included.


Disaster Recovery When Humans are Not There

Hopefully you will have Business Continuity Plans, Business Impact Analysis documents, Supplier/Vendor Response Plans, Disaster Recovery Plans and other potential unforeseen disruption documents in placeThese are only as good as the resources you have in place to investigate and bring up your systems as quickly as possible.   Your plans should outline the staff required to perform service recovery activitiesThis area should be at the top of mind for reviewing when you don’t have a full compliment of staffUpdate the plans with key personnel taking over in the interim periodIn addition, they should be able to quickly and concisely work with vendors if the disruption is outside your domain and there is a combination of both internal and external forces at play.


Celebrate Successes and Lessons Learned

Too often outages are better remembered than what is up and running smoothly on a daily basisHaving dedicated time to showcase quick wins within your team and with stakeholders and customers on a regular basis will give your team a sense of belonging and contributing to the overall vision, mission, and goals of the organization

On the other hand, when your organization experiences outages of great significance that are highly disruptive to internal and/or external customers, bringing in the boots on the ground subject matter experts to complete a root cause analysis is a great way to not only look at what occurred and why, but also brainstorm how best to mitigate event in the futureDon’t keep this siloedThis should be a collaborative effortThe perspective, knowledge and experience of other teams can serve as invaluable especially if a long-term fix can be established.  Leadership should always be there to support the good, the bad and the ugly.  Most importantly, rely and trust that their staff are pursuing the most sound avenue possible to keep the lights on.


Always Have an Open Door Policy

If you want a strong, effective relationship with your team, focus on each employees’ strengths and goals, and enable them to learn and grow within their roleThis means making them aware that you have their interests at top of mindYou are there to encourage creativity and respect opinionsLet them experiment and trust their judgementEstablish clear communication channels and your availability.  Always be truthful and honestThere is nothing worse than putting on a façade, which can be very easily detected, and eventually leads to your credibility and reputation downfall.


Check On Your Key People

Being a great leader is making sure you are taking care of othersKeep in constant communication with your employees that now feel like they are isolated due to unforeseen circumstances This will certainly depend on the situation encountered by the individual and should be carefully evaluatedHowever, here are some areas to ensure they are kept in the loop whilst they are away.

  • Update them on the week’s activities

  • Keep them apprised of what is happening within the organization, within the team.

  • How their specific work is being dissected and actioned.  

  • Any roadblocks, successes.  


The more information you give them, the better they will be set up for success upon their returnThis is a huge mental boost that will show you are consciously making efforts to get them back as soon as they are able to.

Remember, people always come firstThey are the key that unlocks the potential of a successful business.

Tag(s): culture, employee satisfaction, professional development, supportworld


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