Teamwork makes the dream work - and it keeps your servers up and running, too.
IT teams are a crucial part of the modern business. A huge number of companies are now digital, and most rely on information technology for at least one key aspect of their business. Without IT support, these companies would grind to a halt.
That's why it's vital your IT support team is running at maximum efficiency. Read on to find out how to create a strong IT team.
It's Good to Talk
The best teams know how to communicate and work together.
Promote an environment where your IT support team can raise ideas or ask questions. When starting a new project or tackling a problem, hold a meeting where your staff can pitch solutions. You'll be surprised what new ideas come out of an open discussion environment.
That doesn't mean everyone has to agree at all times. Promote multiple perspectives on a problem. Your team will often find the solution is somewhere in the middle.
If you spot any communication issues in your team, handle them quickly. Fuzzy leadership or interpersonal issues are common problems, so sort them out before they impact team performance.
Afraid your team aren't gelling? Hold icebreakers and team-building sessions to get them talking. You may receive a few eye-rolls in response, but the results of these activities speak for themselves.
Don't keep this confined to the team, either. Breaking the ice with their colleagues in other teams will help company-wide communication and cross-working.
Tools for the Job
"A bad workman blames his tools", they say, but have you ever tried to download an app to an abacus?
More than half of businesses are still running Windows XP. To put that into perspective, Microsoft has already ended support for Windows Vista, which came afterward. That insane fact shows us what IT teams are having to put up with.
Trying to offer IT solutions to outdated systems quickly becomes a square peg, round hole situation. The more outdated the technology, the more your team will struggle.
And using outmoded systems doesn't just impact the technical side. Your team morale will take a nosedive when they struggle to complete common tasks or are asked to do the impossible.
You might not have infinite money to spend on IT. That's understandable. But if your budget is limited, speak to your IT support team to prioritize your upgrades effectively.
Every Day's a School Day
In a way, your IT support team is only as good as the last thing they learned.
IT is evolving rapidly. New technologies are springing up and old ones becoming obsolete. An effective IT team needs to know what they're dealing with.
Offering in-house training sessions will keep your IT team up to speed. If you can't bring in a trainer or run training in company time, consider incentivizing extra-curricular learning. You can also look into offering e-learning packages to keep their knowledge up to date.
Build continuous growth into the personal development plans of your staff. This gives them the incentive to keep their skills honed.
Review their performance regularly and ask them what they need to know to provide better support.
Training sessions also offer another great chance to get your team working together. Most professional trainers know how to break the ice and get teams talking. Putting your staff through training will encourage them to share and discuss new ideas.
Owning the Role
You're looking at a case of poor management if no one in your team seems to know what they're doing even when they have the skills.
Too often, muddy roles lead to wasted man-hours. Without clear purposes, your team will duplicate work and get in the way of each other.
This also makes working across departments difficult. Too often, colleagues won't know where to send work and it'll get lost in the wrong workload.
Make sure your job descriptions are clear. Reinforce them often with management guidance. Review performance and set individual goals so that everyone knows their core responsibilities.
The point isn't to segregate your team based on their role. The point is that everyone on the team knows what they contribute.
Look at sports teams to see how it's done. Players know what they're doing and stick to it. If they try to play another player's position, they'll hold the whole team back.
The key figure in this is a strong leader. It won't always be obvious who should own work as it arises, so it's up to a team supervisor to delegate effectively. They need to take into account skill sets, but also workload and deadlines.
They Shoot, They Score
One of the best ways to get a team working together is to unify their goals.
Your IT support team will always have their individual workloads. But giving them a target to hit as a group will encourage them to communicate and develop new ideas.
This could be something simple like finding small efficiency gains for the business. Or perhaps they could streamline the way they interact with other teams.
Even better, ask your team to come up with ideas for their own goals. This gives them a sense of ownership over their own success.
Whatever the case, these goals need to be something simple that everyone can contribute to. Everyone should have a role to play and your team should get together to measure their success regularly.
Get these goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound. Wishy-washy goals that distract from their core business will leave your team confused.
Set dates for review and a measure of success right at the start. And treat failure as a chance to learn and grow, not as something you should penalize.
Start Building Your IT Support Team
You won't build a brilliant IT support team overnight. But start immediately, and you'll soon see the benefits. Be sure to take the feedback of your team on-board and you'll be set for success.