Efficient and motivated service desk staff are valuable to any organisation. But in a high-pressure environment, how do you ensure your people are meeting their potential? Natalie Calvert of CX High Performance explains.

A high performing service desk is a joy to behold. Not only does it fix problems in a timely fashion, it helps the business achieve great things with technology.  An acceptable service desk fixes things. A high performing service desk improves every facet of the business by making it work faster and more intelligently.

The common mistake service desk managers make in terms of trying to improve the performance of their staff is practicing performance-by-numbers.  In this approach, service desk staff are expected to ‘hit the numbers’ just because the job description demands it. Motivation by fear may work in the short term, but it encourages staff to deliver a service that meets the minimal expected standards. It damages morale and means that staff can’t wait to leave their position. Employing people is expensive – as is losing their knowledge – so it’s in the best interests of the service desk manager to try a different approach when driving performance. 

A high performing service desk improves every facet of the business by making it work faster and more intelligently.

The key to unlocking performance of your service desk staff is understanding motivation.  As explained, people are not motivated by numbers.  To encourage people to reach their performance potential, you need to think more deeply about what motivates us as human beings.

Sense of purpose
All of us – without exception – need a sense of purpose.  We want to feel part of something worthwhile – something that makes a difference. And we want to feel like the organisation we’re involved with is interested in us and our career paths. We want our employees to make us feel wanted and invest in our development and well-being to retain our services.

A good manager, therefore, needs to learn about the levers and triggers to performance. There’s no one size that fits all when it comes to motivating people and improving performance. We’re all different, so a skillful manager takes time to get to know their staff. Only by talking to a person can you establish what you can leverage to unlock their performance potential. 

For some people, it’s getting to work early. Others want to learn how to sell more effectively. Or perhaps the person is so good at the job that they are annoying the other staff, which is then damaging their relationships. There is no panacea to individual performance – the only approach is to ask questions and listen.

The 80s vs Millennials
Although you should be wary of generalising, there are certain generational traits which I reference when explaining why motivation differs greatly between individuals and groups.  In the 80s, motivation was all about standing up and giving grand speeches.  But this doesn’t work in the modern era, especially for Millennials, because their cultural context is so different.

Millennials have gone through a schooling system reliant on a reward-based point scoring system.  This generation were taught using stickers and stars on a chart. Obviously, we can’t use that approach directly in the workplace, but if you think about the psychology, this type of reward and motivation is about recognition. Millenials are from an era when traditional family units became increasingly fragmented and the concept of community diluted.  This generation needs to look good to fit into celebrity culture and thanks to the immediate feedback of social media, their desire for validation is strong.  They, therefore, want to be a valued member of the organisational ‘family’.

Each generation and each individual is very different. But there are techniques that can be applied to any personality type to motivate and increase performance. But the process begins by discovering what each person really wants.

Want to learn more about the different generational types and motivation? Connect with me on LinkedIn and we’ll talk: linkedin.com/in/nataliecalvert/

Guest post by:
Natalie Calvert, CX High Performance

Natalie Calvert

Customer Experience leader and coach

Natalie has worked with 200,000 service and sales professionals and leaders across 100+ global organisations to deliver world-class customer service during her 20-year career. She has worked with organisations including O2, Vodafone, The AA, and Lego and wants to help all customer-facing teams unlock their performance potential.

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