Q. Dear Help Desk Coach,
Recently I took over a help desk which didn’t have a manager (agents reported to the head of operations). In the last 2 months I have instituted a ticket system, prioritized handling of user issues, and updated software, among many other changes.
However, my biggest problem is an employee who is very knowledgeable, but also abrasive with users. In fact, he had a shouting match with one of the VPs in the parking lot yesterday.
I can’t afford to lose him because he understands the business and the systems, but he’s given the help desk a bad reputation and everyone is looking to me to fix the problem.
New Manager in the Spotlight
Dear New Manager,
While I understand you’re not new at management, this problem employee is a “beyond normal” management situation. I recommend immediate action.
If you have not already, speak to the offended VP to understand what happened during that heated exchange. Apologize on behalf of the help desk and reassure her you want to reinvent the help desk. A new, improved help desk will demonstrate excellent customer service skills.
Learn more about the employee. Does he lack awareness and skills to communicate appropriately with the user base? Does he lack emotional intelligence? If he lacks skills, but sincerely wants to become a more effective employee, provide targeted training (not generic) to give him specifics on guiding calls, handling his and user frustration diplomatically, and explaining resolutions in plain English.
Alternatively, if you determine the employee does not understand the value of improving his customer service skills, your options are limited. The easy choice would be to provide him awareness and specific communication skills, and revise his responsibilities. Appoint him ‘internal consultant’ for escalated calls within the help desk. Observe and make sure he communicates respectfully with customer facing team members.
If the employee doesn’t ‘shape up’ and utilize appropriate business communication skills, then you’re left with no choice but to consider removing him from the help desk. Although he might be technically intelligent, offending users is never acceptable behavior, and abrasive behavior which demoralizes team members is equally unacceptable.
Continue with a performance improvement plan, and the employee’s actions will determine his future within your help desk.
The Help Desk Coach
© Donna Earl 2016.