Advice on Becoming a Successful Help Desk Professional

Your advice on becoming a Help Desk professional helped me get my job. Now that I’m working, what things should I do to be sure I’m successful in my new role?

Reader Question:

Your advice on becoming a Help Desk professional helped me get my job. Now that I’m working, what things should I do to be sure I’m successful in my new role?

My Answer: First, congratulations on the new job and I wish you much luck and success.

As a new “knowledge worker” type employee in a new profession, you were primarily hired based on your future potential, willingness to work hard and do your best, and your capability to quickly expand your knowledge and skill set.

By the term “knowledge worker”, I’m referring to the type of job that uses your mind as the primary tool, rather than your hands. In the case of Help Desk, you certainly use a combination of both, but for your hands to perform their tasks, your mind must have a deep understanding of the work to be performed.

Regarding your future potential, the expectation is that the longer you work, the greater your knowledge and skill will become. From a Help Desk perspective, this means that when you first begin working, you will be performing:

  • Rudimentary tasks, such as changing printer toner cartridges
  • Repetitive documented processes, such as installing company standard software on PCs
  • Moving equipment, such as relocated user PCs from one office to another
  • Answering incoming calls and entering user information in the Help Desk system for dispatch

These tasks may seem rather uninspiring, but as a new employee there is a lot to learn. Changing printer cartridges on user desktops teaches you client service and introduces you to the user base. Repetitive tasks on customized PCs always seem to require minor tweaks and adjustments, thus providing you insights into the overall PC computing environment. Moving people and equipment provides insights into a wide variety of Help Desk processes, including move ticket procedures, IP configurations, potential need to replace communication boards based on building location differences, and other related items. Answering incoming Help Desk calls teaches you how to use the department’s Help Desk software.

While performing these entry level tasks, there are also a number of very important, but subtle, things happening. You are getting to know:

  • Your department’s and company’s work culture and your personal fit within this working environment
  • Your co-workers within the Help Desk department
  • Your manager’s leadership style
  • The way around the building and company offices
  • Where all the Help Desk inventory is stored
  • The user community you are servicing

On the other side of the coin, your manager, co-workers and user community are evaluating you on a number of factors, including the following:

Willingness to work hard and do your best Within a Help Desk environment, a strong work ethic is of major importance. The reason is that there are a finite number of people to do the work and a variable number of Help Desk calls coming in from the user base needing assistance. This incoming work is divided among the various Help Desk technicians. If you don’t service your share of incoming calls, the work must be performed by others within your team.

Ability to perform the needed tasks As the newly hired person, it’s expected that it will initially take you more time to complete a task than someone who has been on the job for an extended period of time. That said, right out of the gate, people will be assessing how fast you work, your incoming skill set and knowledge and your general problem solving skills.

User/Client interaction Quality customer service and user satisfaction are of paramount importance to Help Desk organizations. That said, your interpersonal skills, when working at user desktops, will be a key determining factor of your long-term success as a Help Desk professional.

Willingness and ability to learn new skills Your willingness to learn new skills illustrates your interest in moving ahead professionally, your ability to step outside your comfort zone and your general adaptability toward performing new tasks. Your ability to learn new skills refers to your general aptitude and how quickly you can learn. These two factors together determine your potential to take on more advanced tasks as time moves forward.

You as a person As a Help Desk professional, you are part of team and a general technical resource within the company. Your teammates will be individually and collectively making decisions if they like you, trust you and can work with you. Your manager will be evaluating both your work and your attitude in the hope that he/she made the right decision when deciding to hire you. Lastly, the user community at large, will be deciding if you can be of value to them when technical issues arise.

Your personal fit within your team’s culture As you are making the decision if your new department’s culture is right for you, your manager and Senior Help Desk team members and other leaders you come in contact with are evaluating your fit with the organization’s culture. In other words, do they like your personality, work ethic, and general professional brand.

In closing, the combination of your feelings toward the job and the collective general opinion of your manager, teammates and others at the company will determine your long term success. In the meantime, try your best, learn as much as you can technically and organizationally, begin building your professional brand as a competent, hardworking and valued technical professional.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom or @MgrMechanics or at ManagerMechanics.com.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

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