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Goal setting at the start of the year

Ahhh, that time of year where there is a collective groan when we’re asked to set our goals for the year. To be brutally honest, I’ve never really understood them both for setting them myself and for my team. I know they are something we should all strive to achieve during the coming year. They are meant to tie into the strategy of the organisation and of the IT department but hand on heart, do you really understand how your companies strategy will be used to form your goals?

Over the past few months, I have taken some time out of the workforce and used this opportunity to really grow as a person. Some huge reflections and thinking has been done. Plus lots of reading and podcasts. One podcast really stood out for me on this subject and really got me thinking about how I could set better goals for myself and my team.

The podcast in question was this : The High Performance Podcast with Alastair Campbell https://open.spotify.com/episode/39ROE2dL2qJCESv5aC3bIp?si=9IGlBh2NSHaVjJgBaDOvPA

I know if you know about British politics you know he is known as a bit of a marmite character but what he talks about is OST:

  • Objective / Goal
  • Strategy
  • Tactics

This made way more sense to me that the usual reasoning that goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely). I think it makes more sense to me as I also found out goals aren’t that great at motivating people eg I would love to be ripped with muscle as a goal. However, I have not set any method to help me achieve the goal. What is better is setting up a process or tactic eg I will work out everyday for 30 mins. I am going to achieve more muscles mass and be fitter as a result of this process / tactic that will help me achieve my goal. However, the focus is more on the process / tactic rather than the overall goal. So I started to think about what would be my OST for a team and how could a OST for a team member look like who is working as an IT support analyst

An OST for me (the manager of an IT support team) could be:

Objective

  • Make sure my team can give great customer service
  • Make sure my team has a career path and they know what different career paths are open to them

Strategy

  • Create a fun and collaborative environment for my team to learn and share learnings so we grow the team
  • Analyse call statistics to learn if calls are falling (good thing) or rising (bad thing) overall or for a specific service
  • My team and I learn about different business and IT departments
  • Develop an environment to enhance the time to think about a fix or where next to research a topic or technology

Tactics

  • Team meetings where people can voice up about topics they are concerned about eg a new roll out of software they aren’t sure how to support, trying to troubleshoot an issue and others can help brainstorm and come up with a fix or share a fix that they have come across before
  • Create a dashboard showing the number of incidents logged per month, by service and other metrics to know where to focus attention on trending down tickets. If your team is over stretched answering calls them they have no time to think or do other things. They are in firefighting mode.
  • Implement the Service Desk Triangle https://itilbegood.com/category/service-desk-evolution/
  • Make “Meet the business” sessions and ask the business department to fill out a presentation template to make sure the information is the same across departments
  • Make “Meet the IT teams” sessions, again with a presentation template so the information from each presentation are the same. One of the slides should be around, what training or certification would my team need to do in order to get into your team.
  • One day a month a team member spends the day with each team in IT to build up a picture of what each team really does on a day to days basis.
  • Team drinks / meal all together to build better bonds with each other.

What could an IT support analyst OST be though:

Objective

  • I want to aim at being promoted into the Problem management team

Strategy

  • I need to learn what I need to do in order to get into the team

Tactics

  • Schedule a meeting with the manager of Problem management to understand what the team does.
  • Ask to spend a day with the team to understand exactly what the team does.
  • Ask to go and work with the escalation teams that the support team cannot fix to understand a deeper understanding of IT and therefore understanding more of what could be terms a problem fix rather than an incident fix
  • Schedule a monthly meeting with the problem manager to go over what I have learnt or work on
  • Get ITIL certificate

Or

Objective

  • I want to get better at my network knowledge

Strategy

  • Develop a better understanding of Hubs, Switches and Routers
  • Understand the protocols used
  • Understand how to troubleshoot network issues better

Tactics

  • Sit down with the network team and ask if they could show x/y/z technology
  • Ask to sit down with the network team and go over a past incident and how they troubleshot the call on a month
  • Enlist in a network class in person or an on line course
  • Schedule a monthly meeting with the a network analyst to go over what was learnt and perhaps they could give pointers or show how that set up looks in the real world.
  • Set aside one hour per week to study

As always any comments / feedback / different takes on these articles are always welcome these articles are a way for me to put out my thinking and to learn from others. Managing is always a bit lonely as there is rarely anyone to bounce ideas off so this is my opportunity to do this.

Better team meetings

Reflecting on management practice that someone else carries out and your own management practice is key for any manager / leader to try and better. I was thinking about my team meetings and how they could be much better. A team meeting, to me, is a place where a team can come together and voice up any issues they are having that the team can help or the manager can escalate, ask for help from the team on a problem and the manager can explain any new projects coming up or ask for status updates on projects or work needing to be done.

In a moment of pure honesty, these sound great on paper but, there are not issues 100% of the time, there are not new projects coming 100% of the time and people know how to do their jobs. So the team meeting becomes a bit unstructured and can be very short if there is nothing really to talk about. Its nice to sometime have a team meeting where if there is nothing to talk about it turns into a bonding, fun session where you can just talk about some current affairs or a sports match…but not too many meetings otherwise people will start thinking if it worth take 30mins out of their day.

What could I do to make my team meetings more engaging and provide more value? I thought about getting my team to watch youtube self help / management videos and to discuss them in the team meeting. A sort of book club lite. 15-30 mins videos to be watched between the team meetings and then discuss them. The hope would be this might spark interest in other team member to add their videos they might have watched. This would build a better and more rounded team.

Some talks / books I would be targeting :

Talks

Books

  • Total competition : Lessons in Strategy from Formula One – Ross Brawn / Adam Parr
  • Legacy – What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life – James Kerr
  • How to Win Rugby and Leadership – Clive Woodward
  • SAS : Who Dares Wins : Leadership Secret from the Special Forces – Ant Middleton, Jason Fox, Matthew Ollerton and Colin Maclachlan
  • Turn the ship Around!: A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the rules – L. David Marquet
  • The Infinite Game – Simon Sinek
  • Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
  • Hit Refresh – Satya Nadella

Podcasts

  • The High Performance Podcast
  • The Diary of a CEO with Steve Bartlett – Episode 96 How to take full control of your mind
  • Modern Wisdom

Learning Resources

Interested to know what other managers thoughts on this are? Is this something you have tried? Do you think this will work or not, and why do you think this?

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Hi,

Yesterday I went to the Google Cloud Summit in Singapore, I you have the chance to go to this free event in your area I would highly recommend going. Really amazing features and thinking around collaboration, ML and the cloud helping with your digital transformation.

I have put together a video showing how sheets can now be used to query data using natural language and ML and then using translate utalising AR to translate in real time. Really amazing features. I hope you like it.

Thankyou for visiting and I have a small favour to ask

Hi,

Firstly thankyou for visiting my blog. I set this up to try and show who I am and how I work rather than depending just upon a CV. However, I also wanted to share ideas so the community can grow by putting out my ideas then people can either use them or tweak them to possiblilty fit their situation better.

Now you are here, I have a small favour to ask. In August 2018 I am moving back to Singapore after living in the UK for 5 years with my wife. Therefore I will be looking for a job, ideal roles are something like:

Service Desk Manager

Service Improvement

Service Management

Or a role which tries to do with ITIL always sets out and that is to make IT work better with the business.

Using my videos you can get a flavour of how I try and manage teams and trending using my ServiceDesk Evolution webinar. Once I see trends I can then see how we could take them through problem management using Tribes. Finally, I also like to try and improve Servicenow and have put together some ‘Servicenow how to’ videos to show how things work so you might want to have a go or start firing ideas on how you could change your instance for the better.

Therefore if you are in Singapore or know anyone in Singapore looking out for someone to join their team then please feel free to pass on my details.

My personal situation is my wife is a Singapore citizen and I am awaiting a Singapore PR application but if this does not come through in time then I will be apply for a LTVP where I understand this would give me a 5 year visa for an empoyeer only needing to write a letter of consent for me to start working. My wife already has a job so we are commited to moving to back.

Thankyou

Andrew

Top rope management

At the upcoming itSMF conference, I will be presenting on how I work with Service Desks to try and change the perception of what a Service Desk is and can do. This is done with a combination of skilling up people and empowerment, but the underlying message is management and leadership for my talk.

We have all worked for them at some point in our careers, the managers who you always ask ‘What do they actually do?’ You see them go to countless meeting and all smiles but what is their output? What or how does their team benefit? When the team asks them a question or needs advice, it is quickly deflected with ‘You need to work this out, it isn’t my job’. In John Maxwell ‘5 levels of leadership’ talk, he would describe them as a Level 1 manager. The leader the team only follows because they have the title.

When I was younger, I used to watch wrestling, every Saturday afternoon watching wrestlers go at each other. One move that got everyone on their feet and the commentator’s voice would go up an octave, was when the opponent was on the floor and the wrestler climbed to the top rope and then jumped. If they landed right on the opponent, they would hook the leg, a 10 count and the match was over. If the opponent rolled away, the wrestler would land on the floor and probably lose the match. However, why was this so exciting? It showed total commitment and bravery, as there was no safety net for the wrestler.

I would describe my management style as ‘Top rope management’; though my opponent isn’t my staff members, but instead boredom and lack of motivation. I have to beat these two opponents or my staff will leave. I don’t want to be a level 1 manager but show bravery and commitment to do things out of the norm for my team and not accept ‘…but we have always done it this way’ if it doesn’t make sense or could be done better.

I want my team to follow me because they want to, they see me getting results and put them in the right positions to show off their talents. We have all seen various stats and articles all saying the same thing: People leave because of their manager and not always due to the money as proven in Dan Pink’s Ted Talk ‘The Puzzle of motivation’.

In the talk, the premise is that if you give autonomy, mastery and purpose to people then they will be more motivated than just giving them more money. My presentation is all about a strategy which was alternative to the convention of what a Service Desk should or could do and how I have tried to give autonomy, mastery and purpose to my teams. The presentation shows how I have :

  • Skilled up my teams so there are no favourites people always want to always speak to when they have a problem
  • Enhances the relationships between the Service Desk, other IT teams and the business.
  • Empowered them to come up with ideas improve themselves and their work situation
  • Highlighted and promoted talent within the team to other teams
  • Trend analysis designed to show workloads and trends to try and either:

 

A final quote sums how I try to adopt an attitude to challenge convention with unconventional ways of working :

“It is more fun to be a pirate than join the navy’

Steve Jobs

If you are attending the event then hopefully you can attend my session ‘Rethink the Service Desk role to change its image forever’ these are the three takeaways :

  • Understand how the service desk can value add to the business and IT
  • Rethink the service desk role and the career path it offers
  • Identify and show off talent in the Service Desk team in a structured way