Most support teams are pretty diverse when it comes to skill sets. Some techs excel at customer interaction while others are experts at telephony and others are the hardware specialists. It’s good to have a specialty. We can be good at many things but generally, to be great we must concentrate on one area.
A lot of Good can be better than Great
In managing teams I found it’s better to have a lot of employees who are good at many things than a few employees who are great at one thing each. Vacations and sick days alone really kill you. That’s why I like to have a mentoring program within my team. A lot of organizations refer to this as skill sharing but I’ve had more success calling it mentoring.
Make everyone a Trainer
There are few ways to do it. One is to schedule two hours a month, or even a week devoted to training. Ask each team member to prepare a course to give the rest of the team in those hours. Some members will be too shy to present. While it is great to encourage people to face their fears, never force it. If an employee just does not want to present ask a less shy employee to work with him or her or ask that they write up something.
Don’t stop the program when everyone has had their 2 hours. Start over again. Each area of expertise has should have a lot to offer. Encourage your employees to create training around incidents where they learned something new about their area.
Another mentoring method is just that, mentoring. Team up people with different strengths for a few months at a time. Be clear about why you team them. Ask each tech to mentor the other one on their specific strength. Spell it out. Make sure the techs know you mean their ability to analyze network issues, not their wicked Xbox skills.
Mentoring others helps the team become more diverse in their skill sets and, therefore, stronger. It also develops leadership skills in people who likely want to eventually move into management roles. It’s a good trade off for everyone involved.
Do you have a mentoring program within your team? Tell us how it works for you. What problems, if any have you run into?
For more ideas on how to get the most from your team check out our Practical IT Manager Gold series. http://126.96.36.199:8484/toolkitcafe/product/practical-it-manager-gold-series/