leadership skill

IT Helpdesk Managers: 7 Must-Have Skills, and the 1 Skill You Never Knew About

The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but LEGENDARY. – Sam Walton, Founder Walmart


anaging an IT helpdesk is not all about tech and data. To be a successful IT Helpdesk Manager, you need a broad range of skills. Here are the key ones you can’t do without. We reckon there is at least one on here that might surprise you.

Communicate convincingly

Communication is at the heart of your role. You will have to pick up the phone, deal with hassled people and answer emails with tact. You’ll have to get things out of people and break down complex processes into manageable chunks. And yes, you will have to ask them to turn their machines off and on again. Being a good communicator is all about active listening and responding to people’s needs. Being friendly doesn’t hurt either. Mind Tools has some great exercises to get you started.

Be a diplomat

You will need sophisticated negotiation skills to resolve issues diplomatically. Once people’s blood gets pumping they may try to take their frustrations out on you. Chances are, they’ve spoken to your employees, and now things have been escalated to you. Remain calm. Don’t get involved in finger-pointing or blaming. Just listen and reassure. Explain your processes and if there has been a slip-up, confess, but don’t dwell. Move on.

Organise and conquer

Being organised is important. When the jobs start queuing up and the tickets piling on your desk, you’ll need to prioritise tasks. Implementing systems and procedures will help, but most importantly you must lead by example. Follow the procedures yourself and don’t let stress get the better of you. Use your diary, implement weekly meetings, or use online tools such as Wunderlist to stay organised.

Manage your minutes

Be flexible: it’s not about rigidity. But effective time-management can help you get most out of your day. Use your email calendar to block out hours for dealing with emails, staff, planning and IT issues. Don’t go down the rabbit hole and spend hours on fruitless footnotes. If something is not working, refresh your mind with a new task, and come back to it later. Every week, evaluate how much time you spent where, and whether you need to adjust something.

Lead the pack

Get to know your staff. Your team will perform better if they feel they can trust you, so earning their respect is worthwhile. Lead by example, follow best practice, and be a key player in resolving disputes. Take the time to listen to your staff and be hands-on with your leadership.

Power of the positive

Be a real team-builder, with bags of morale-boosting positivity. The ability to see the silver lining in any situation will take you far. When things get a bit rough, make sure you and your team have a break. Go out of the office, get some coffees in, and don’t forget to give out positive feedback where it’s warranted. It’s sometimes tempting to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, but don’t let negativity win.

Become a customer advocate

Customer service is your core operation. Going the extra mile will earn you a great customer advocate reputation. It’s the simple things that count: doing things with a smile, asking for customer feedback, and taking the time to resolve tricky calls effectively. If you think your team would benefit from further customer service training, don’t be afraid to suggest this.

Plus…Perfect presentation

Gone are the days of the IT department tucked away in a dingy basement somewhere. It might surprise you, but many companies are looking for IT Helpdesk Managers with presentation skills. Use your presentation and people skills to impress senior managers. Practice your presentations at home, and try recording yourself to see where you falter. Use an interesting platform such as Prezi to get your ideas across creatively. Spreadsheets, analytics, graphs and ticketing systems need not be boring. But then we are probably preaching to the choir here.


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