Effective technology support teams are very flexible and motivated; they are characterized by good communication and frequent learning so that they can enhance IT systems, recognize areas for technological improvement and hence boost company performance.
What it takes to build an effective technology team
Good management is a critical component of building effective technology support teams because it leads to greater motivation and focus by the team members. One way in which a good team leader can do this is through clearly defining the problem or goal to be achieved. Many ineffective team leaders tend to focus on the task of filling up positions rather than clearly defining the problems to be solved. Having a well defined goal creates direction in the team and also determines the skills and expertise needed to meet impending challenges.
Good management can only arise when the right leaders are selected for the job. They need to possess sound leadership skills as well as organizational skills that would allow for management of team goals, personalities or milestones. The leadership role should not be treated as an opportunity to reward hardworking employees but should be an opportunity to organize and meet client needs (Arellano, 2008).
Essentially it can be asserted that a good leader is one who is bold enough to alter team roles when it appears as though everyone is going off track. At the end of the day, what matters most will be achievement of the technology objectives rather than creation of an effective support team. One should also be realistic enough when one realizes that the team does not possess all the needed qualities required to get work done. Such a manager needs to use external resources to fill these skills gaps in his or her team.
However, having these qualities may not be sufficient enough for the team leader as there are other important traits that one needs to possess. For instance, good management cannot be achieved without proper communication so the team leader should know how to do this. Technology support teams are often set up in order to solve problems. It is likely that clients who come to such teams may have been frustrated by some technological issue and they are often angry at the team. Good managers in such teams should be able to listen to their complaints with as much patience and professionalism as possible. Team leaders also need to communicate well with administrators because the latter often determine how much money will allocated to a project or whether or not project work is really worth doing. An effective team leader should therefore articulate team efforts well when dealing with other non team members (Regan and O’Connor, 2002).
Good teams are also characterized by efforts from the rest of the team members as well. Without their input, all the good management skills in the world would yield no concrete results. First, good team players must have a high degree of flexibility. Offering technology support may require 24 –hour dedication and maintenance. These team members should be able to report at any time when needed or as shift systems dictate. Laxity on their part could translate to major technological breakdowns that would tarnish the organizational image. They also need to know how to handle high pressure situations because this is something that can never miss in technology support environments. For instance a client may approach the team concerning his/ her inability to send out emails through the company server.
A good member of the technology support team should quickly realize that this is an urgent matter and must work on it urgently. However, there should be a way of prioritizing issues. Not every problem reported by clients deserves the same level of urgency and attention. Good team members should therefore possess a degree of autonomy in decision making. They should be able to discern and hence prioritize the most important ones. Team members should never wait for orders from the superiors because the nature of technology support roles requires individuals who are proactive. In other words, they should be able to detect future problems and contribute towards their solution. Also, these team members should easily learn about new technological developments. Business applications and technologies are always being revised, upgraded or replaced so members of these teams need to show that they can fully take on such experiences even in their current form. (Ball et al, 2006)
How personalities can affect relationships between technical and non technical staff
Personalities are an essential part of team formation as they determine the degree of cohesiveness, cooperation and productivity within a group. If all the team members possess the right expertise and skills but wrong personalities then no work can get done. Team leaders or managers need to be highly aware of such aspects and should work on promoting them as much as possible.
The first thing that needs to be assessed is the nature of those personalities. Managers should only select those people who can operate well in a team environment. Some people may be good at what they do but may be to individualistic in their approach. Such persons would communicate poorly with team members and would try to do everything on their own. Other personalities may be too egotistic in that they always think they are right. Managers would do well to leave out people with such qualities because they are bound to slow down team processes by always defending themselves even when they know they are wrong. Therefore, managers should always make sure that all team members can take on harsh criticism and respond to it well. Self seekers should also be avoided as much as possible. These kinds of team members are only going to look out for their particular interests without considering the group roles set out. For instance, if a client asks a self seeking team member about a problem with his/ her network, the former member would respond by dodging the issue and blaming the network administrators for the problem rather than by looking at it himself. Selfish team members can cause the team to drift from its goals because they will swim in whichever direction as long as this would protect them (Ball et al, 2006).
Technical staffs differ slightly from non technical staff in terms of the effect of personalities. The work of technical staff is basically cut out for them; for instance if one’s task is to install communication satellite dishes then one would not need to possess very good people skills. However, if one performed non technical technological support functions then one would need to be people oriented. Such a person should be a good communicators and a team collaborator. Nonetheless, one should not assume that team based personalities are only needed in the non technical arena; technical staff often work in groups and team dynamics may also come into play. They need to work hand in hand with others in order to achieve team outcomes and should be prepared to sacrifice their own comfort for others.
Teams need to adopt an all round approach to daily performances. Therefore efforts should be seen from management, technical and non technical staff. Utmost precedence should be given to selection of the right staff and also to the kinds of personalities being chosen.
Regan, E. & O’Connor, B. (2002). End-user information systems: Implementing individual and work group technologies. (2nd ed.) New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Arellano, N. (2008). Strategies to build a strong technology support team. Web.
Ball, C., Mackie, H. & Patel, M. (2006).Building effective systems solutions. Business development group white paper.