How to step up and shine as a service desk manager


Well, it happened; you got the promotion! You are now the service desk manager (SDM)!

It is likely you were given this opportunity because you were a super service desk technician. Now your job is to turn the service desk into a team of super service desk technicians.

You may be asking yourself how, where to start, what to do, where to turn. Since there are no longer any phone booths you can step into to change yourself into a superhero; you need to develop your Super Service Desk Manager skills!

Service desk manager skills to master

There are four fundamental service desk manager skills you will need to master to become a SuperSDM. Are you ready to become a SuperSDM?

Make the leap to service desk management

You have taken the first leap into management. The first thing you need to do as a service desk manager is to forget the tech. Your job is now about people, not technology. Yes, you still need to maintain your technical chops. However, you will need to get used to the fact you are no longer the smartest person in the room when it comes to hands-on tech. You will need to delegate to your team so they can solve the technical issues. You will need to resist the urge to swoop in to save the day by fixing issues. By allowing your team to learn and grow, you will be saving more than the day, you will be saving the month, quarter and year!

Delegation is hard, especially when your team may not be as efficient or may not perform the task the same way you would. You need to become comfortable with telling your team what needs to be done, not necessarily how to do it. This does not mean you don’t pitch in in a crisis, you do, however, you don’t do it as a matter of course.

Build your superpowers

One of the hardest things for managers at all levels of an organization to do is to carve out time for themselves. You will need reflection time. You will need personal growth time. You will need to learn how to manage and how to lead. Take the time to identify your strengths and your kryptonite, er uh, weaknesses. There are many superpowers of leadership, there are three you should analyze (and develop, if need be): Social, Inspiration, and Empathy.

The old adage that you can’t be friends with your team is wrong. You can be friends with your team members. In fact, one of the best ways to build a strong team is to engage with them socially, get to know them, get to know their families.

Your team is looking to you — the service desk manager — to lead them. Do you have a vision for your team? Does your team know your vision? Are they excited about the vision. You don’t have to be a great inspirational orator, but you do need to be able to create a vision and share it with your team in such a way that they see themselves in that vision.

One of the most underrated superpowers of a leader is empathy. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The shoes might be those of the callers to the service desk (whether they are employees of your company or customers of your MSP), they might be those of your executive team, or they might be those of your service desk technicians themselves.

Build their superpowers

People. Developing people is now your job. You will not be successful without a successful team. As you get to know your team from the perspective of the manager, you will identify training needs. Those may be training needs that span the entire group, or they could be training needs of individuals. Most technology professionals I know love to learn. If they aren’t learning, they get bored and restless. Take advantage of that tendency.

In my first Chief Information Officer role, our company launched a “Great Service” initiative. The organization wanted to be known for providing great service from top to bottom. In the Information Technology Department, we took that to heart. Our motto became: Great People - Great Tools - Great Results. The team was trained on the seven steps to great service. Time and time again our Service Desk Technicians were recognized at all-company meetings for providing great service.

The seven steps to great service are:

  • Knowing your customer
  • Being proactive
  • Following through and being consistent
  • Communicating (not waiting for your customer to call you)
  • Seeing complaints as opportunities
  • Demonstrating a positive attitude
  • Building fans

Be faster than a speeding bullet

Being faster than a speeding bullet is a great metric for a superhero, probably not for a SuperSDM.

Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos, studied call centers and metrics. He found that most call centers (and service desks for that matter) were measured on the number of calls they handled and how fast they closed them. He realized this was driving the behaviors contrary to their core mission. Rather than providing great and exemplary service, it was causing the team to rush through calls so they could get to the next. He changed the metric to something he called the Personal Emotional Connections, the ability to form a bond with the customer.

While that may be a difficult metric to measure and it may not align with the mission and values of your organization, the point is to understand what you are measuring the behavior those measurements are driving. The behaviors must align with the mission and vision of your broader organization and your service desk itself.

The point here is that measures of success are only valuable if they are aligned with the larger mission at hand.


There you have it! Four superpowers that will take you from a Service Desk Manager to a Super Service Desk Manager. This is an exciting adventure and these superpowers are just the beginning to understanding your new role, growing as a manager, and developing into a leader.

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