Why we focus on how we work, as much as what work we do
For as long as I can remember, the Q2Q blog has focused on all-things-technical – which is good, considering we are IT specialists. However, in my role as organisational development director, I believe there’s so much more to the successful IT equation than just the industry knowledge.
Understanding people and their business goals plays a huge part in solving the whole puzzle. And, while there is no getting away from the fact that IT support is a fast-paced world – and staying ahead of the curve is key – in a service-led industry it’s impossible to truly plan from one week to the next, as you can’t predict which of your customers will encounter issues and when.
As I am sure is the case in many businesses, when each working day sees you focused on delivering timely solutions to keep your own customers’ lives running smoothly, finding the time to reflect on your own working practices can end up in the “nice-to-have” box, that gets pushed to the back of the queue.
Organisations that home in on facts, figures and other traditional KPIs will often find that overarching targets might make sense in isolation but can actually work against each other when you attempt to combine them into a holistic approach.
In the world of IT support, an obvious metric would the number of ‘tickets’ – or customer issues – which are raised, actioned, and closed in any given timeframe, combined with how long the client had to wait for the fix.
While customer satisfaction must be at the top of any performance review, it’s worth understanding what actually makes the customer satisfied. If you’re so busy looking at the speed in which a case is closed, without realising, you could be encouraging the team to focus on quick fixes rather than getting to the root cause of a problem.
Although you may be hitting your targets in terms of hard data, the solution is only the same as taking a painkiller to mask the source of pain. Issues will continue to surface if the team is only incentivised to consider speed of closure as a good measure. The customer may be happy in the short term, but somewhat less-so when the issue inevitably reoccurs.
In the past – when things have been busy at Q2Q – we have used some of these basic metrics ourselves. But, over the past 18 months we’ve been looking at things a little differently at HQ. We’ve been ensuring that we find that time to look at how we work, giving it as much focus as what work we do.
The development began by refining our internal mission statement. We used a tool which ensured the whole team contributed to the task, from start to finish. Involving the Q2Q family in the entire process meant they bought into the underlying ethos of the brand – and feel responsible for living and breathing it – as opposed to having something forced upon them by someone in a leadership role, as is the case in many businesses.
Brand value creation completed, we then took the time to consider the various building blocks needed in order to thrive in line with our purpose, rather than a checklist of tasks and projects. We now have monthly meetings which solely look at whether we’re still adhering to our shared ambition, and if we’re not, implement any necessary changes in order to increase our scores.
Unsurprisingly, this new approach led us to re-evaluate our internal KPIs, and in doing so, there’s been a conscious shift in the behaviour and methods of working at our HQ. The focus on preventative maintenance has increased significantly, and although our customers won’t necessarily see what we’re doing in the background – that’s actually a good thing, as they certainly benefit from it!
I’m incredibly proud to see the team working together to implement a ‘get it right the first time, for the last time’ attitude when it comes to clients’ IT headaches. While the task in hand might take a little longer, it’s by far the most effective – and satisfying – long-term solution for our customers.
Furthermore, this new technique also sees the team interact with each other in a far more collaborative way – and it’s now rare that a complex problem will have just one of the tech experts working on it.
While there will always be a lead techie responsible for delivering the solution, in order to develop a true learning culture, every new discovery will be shared. Even the seemingly day-to-day issues will be aired in the office, with the view to bringing potential new ideas into the mix.
As I’m sure you’re now able to imagine, it can be quite a noisy office at times, but the sense of team now is stronger than ever, which pays dividends when we have particularly challenging days!
While my own role at Q2Q is to look steer the ship in the right direction, there’s nothing I enjoy more than looking at a client, friend or family member’s operational structure, to see if there are any cultural changes which could make a world of difference to their success.
Whether you’re looking to understand what your IT company should be providing in terms of a holistic approach, or would simply like to understand how to shift the cultural attitude of your own organisation, the kettle is always on a Q2Q HQ, so get in touch with us here.