by Rob Beswick, Head of Membership and Product Development at SDI
When interviewing we are always told to look for the best candidate, the most qualified, the most experienced, and the best fit for the role. Rarely do we consider the dynamics of a team, which are often difficult to quantify when employing new people. With technologies evolving rapidly and the business wanting multiple channels for communicating with the service desk, we tend to focus on individuals rather than the make-up of teams, perhaps more so than in the past.
The benefits of variety
Having a mix of backgrounds and experiences within your team to enables you to handle changes in the way you support customers or users. There is no point in having 10 people (for example), with roughly the same age, gender, education and social background in your team. When major issues arise or you want to improve the services you provide, you will find everyone giving the same opinion or answer because, chances are, your team would be looking at it from the same perspective using knowledge from the same background and similar experience to come to a decision.
It would be easier in the short term to follow a path of cloning your favourite team members when hiring a new starter; they will relate quicker to each other and potentially learn faster, as the way they interact on a business and social level will be similar and clashes between team members minimised. But longer term, it may mean that your team stagnates; there will be a lack of innovation and questioning why the business or your department does things in a certain way. The first time you will be challenged on why your service desk works in a certain way will be from outside of your team, at which point it will be much harder to effect change.
Create continual improvement
Another benefit of a more dynamic team is that it will consist of a more diverse range of skills and experience that can be taped into and if you have the right culture, they will feel encouraged to share this with other team members, therefore creating a self-improvement ecosystem. For example team members who have vast amounts of experience can share knowledge with less experienced team members, who in return can share their recent experience and skills with new technologies as well as give insight on the perspectives of new generations coming into the workplace. This can create a team that is more proactive, less process driven and capable of implementing new technologies effectively.
Managing a dynamic team
The toughest job for managers of teams like this is to carefully guide the team working ethic and demonstrate and lead this culture of cross-learning and sharing. You also have to remember that you are part of this dynamic team, a leader is no longer there to just give direction, you need to show that you can learn from your team just as much as they can learn from you.
In my view you should actively look to blend introverts and extroverts, ages and social backgrounds, technical experience and customer service, to create a team that will become greater than the sum of its parts.