Do you have a bad egg in your service desk team? Negativity is contagious. Having one team member consistently under-perform can have disastrous effects on everyone’s performance. In recent COVID times with Service Desk teams working remotely and often in isolation, the effect of the bad egg is even more damaging.

Creating the right processes and management style prevents the bad eggs from finding their way into your team – and helps you keep the good ones.

How to Hire the Right Support Service Analysts

As the old adage says, prevention is better than cure. Having run successful IT Support Services teams for over 28 years, Acora has continued to sharpen our hiring strategy. By continually reviewing our hiring process we have developed a very high success rate in finding the right people from the get-go. Here’s our three-step process that has become the Acora Best Practice in our own hiring method.

Video Screening

You’ve whittled away at a stack of CVs in your inbox. You’re left with a big handful of candidates who, on paper, have all the right skills and experiences. Bringing them all in for face-to-face interviews is time-consuming. As a busy IT Manager, lengthy interviews slow down the hiring process and take you away from other duties. Even worse, you could miss some vital attributes that every analyst in your team should have.

Screening by an application such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom is the most efficient way to reduce your shortlist. A quick video call not only allows you to listen to their phone technique but you can also assess body language and see their surroundings. You’ll learn quickly whether each candidate can communicate with the clarity and confidence you need your team to convey.

Face to Face Interview & Skill Assessment

Now that you have a good quality shortlist of 3-5 candidates per role, it’s time to book that face-to-face meeting. This is when you can ask more in-depth questions about their experience and get a feel for the candidate’s personality and culture fit, but most importantly attitude. It also gives the candidates a real sense of your business, your expectations and what they can expect from you as a manager.

However, discussion over a candidate’s experience doesn’t always reveal their aptitude. This is why we’ve adopted more objective practices, and as a result, seen huge benefits.

Introducing a proficiency test can be very revealing. Not only can it provide a clearer indication of an analyst’s knowledge and technical ability, but you’ll also see how they cope under pressure. However, this can be a significant investment for some Service Desk operations. We place our candidates in a series of ‘real world’ scenarios within our testing environment. They take a number of calls from a senior analyst or manager who requires technical support. This process is invaluable in establishing:

  • End-to-End customer engagement.
  • Responsiveness.
  • Technical proficiency.
  • Ticket recording quality.

Naturally, your ticket logging toolset may not be what the candidate is used to. Yet certain essential practices (such as detailed troubleshooting steps) aren’t reliant on the technology at hand. Next, we assess each person for Telephone and Ticket Quality against our live service criteria. These results are then reviewed alongside interview notes to arrive at a decision.

Onboarding and Training

Now you have selected the best person for the role, the management process gets into full swing. Setting out a clear onboarding and induction process is a great way to set goals, align expectations and give your new hire the tools to succeed. This is how to stop a good egg from going bad fast.

Consider if a one-size-fits-all training schedule will work for all of your new IT Support staff. By developing a framework, you’ll save time and help new team members hit the ground running. Your training schedule should align with the overall team objectives, SLAs and business goals. Having the training ready for new starters ahead of their first day helps set the standard early.

Having a new hire twiddling their thumbs can leave them frustrated and anxious. Start as you mean to go on by keeping them busy from the get-go. Nourish enthusiasm with the training and hands-on experience they need.

Do you know how long it takes to train a new member of staff in your team? Set a timeframe (e.g. three months depending on your own team and your joiner’s starting point) and ensure that they get very close support / mentoring until they are at the required level to pass their probation period. Catching potential problems early is key. During the training period, ensure new recruits have a one-to-one meeting on a weekly basis to make sure they are getting what they need from you and that they’re hitting their milestones

Setting out a clear onboarding and induction process is a great way to set goals, align expectations and give your new hire the tools to succeed. This is how to stop a good egg from going bad fast.

Retaining the Good Eggs

Your new hire isn’t so new anymore. They’ve reached a point where they work relatively autonomously. They know your tools and processes well and are providing a good level of service. Fostering a strong team dynamic and culture certainly helps with retention. No analyst is an island, and after all, you’re running a team, not a coaching programme for one. Keep your finger on the pulse with what drives each individual, their personal goals, recent achievements, ideas and overall contribution to the team’s objectives.

Ensure regular one-to-one meetings, on at least a monthly basis. Allowing one-to-ones to lapse is a sure-fire way to make someone feel undervalued and lose motivation. If there are signs of underperformance, you can refer back to the KPIs that were set out in the very beginning. KPIs can evolve to keep a staff member striving to improve with core indicators tied to team objectives and one or two personal growth goals added on a quarterly basis.

Despite all the best planning, management skills and coaching you offer, there’s always a chance one bad egg will slip through the net. If this is the case, and you’re confident that you have delivered everything you can to help, it could be that it’s just not the right person for your team.

Despite your best efforts, sometimes things just don’t work out. Often these cases are not down to aptitude but attitude. A lack of motivation could, for example, indicate that an analyst has outgrown their role. After a year or two as an analyst, they may be looking for progression. If you can keep hold of a highly skilled person by giving them a more motivating challenge, then you could see things turn around.

If all else fails, you’ll have to make a tough decision. But make sure the rest of your team does not catch the bad egg contagion before you’ve dealt with it. Getting your hiring, training and management right means you’ll ensure only the best analysts join your team and nip any issues in the bud.

Ultimately managing the bad egg is time-consuming, requires significant continual investment and can distract you from focusing on driving service and user experience forward. The other option, and of course I’d say this, is to transfer the problem to a third party like Acora. At Acora we have over two decades of experience, delivering outsourced Service Desk’s to hundreds of clients and we support over 20,000 end-users across the globe.