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5 Overlooked skills all IT Service Managers need

It goes without saying that IT Service Managers are masters of tech. They are wise in the ways of hardware, software, and storage. They stay on top of latest industry developments and know how and when to harness emerging tools and digital trends. But whilst extensive technology know-how underpins their position, the role of an ITSM demands a host of other skills which are essential to their success, yet often overlooked.

Here we explore beyond tech understanding and highlight five of the top skills that IT Service Managers can optimize in order to best deliver and exceed goals.

1. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence can have a profound impact on decision making. Having a strong level of empathy can ensure an ITSM’s analysis of customer needs is on point. Better understanding any issues will improve their ability to problem solve.

An IT Service Manager is a key middleman/woman between customers, senior management, and employee teams. Optimal emotional intelligence can only be of benefit in this position. It can help ITSMs offer empathy if things aren’t going to plan, and recognise where support is needed. It can also enhance communication. When forming solutions and proposing strategies, emotional intelligence can enable IT professionals to offer insight behind decisions, as they are able to take each party’s priorities into account.

How to upgrade your emotional intelligence: Optimise your empathetic ear by practicing active listening. Focus on upping your understanding of another’s stance or viewpoint by delving into the background it is coming from.

2. Business acumen

ITSMs are a highly valued part of the management team for many organisations. Beyond being called upon for asset compliance, tech infrastructure and their digital talents, they have a key responsibility for bridging the business with IT. It is essential that service management professionals have the business acumen to align technology with business KPIs in order to succeed.

Better your business acumen: Get stuck into elements outside of your field. Attend more general business or planning meetings, which will give you a clear outlook on how to harness tools and tech to the benefit of the company. Additionally, undergo training such as the ITIL4 certification course. The ITIL framework centers on the importance of working holistically across the business environment to successfully deliver products and services. Expanding your business knowledge can ensure you align your work with your company’s goals.

3. Problem solving

No business, project or service can run smoothly one hundred percent of the time, and so problem solving will regularly fall on the shoulders of IT Service Managers. In this connective role the ITSM must act as a mediator, therefore, the ability to effectively problem solve is paramount, but often overlooked.

Competing views and priorities mean that dealing with customers and clients is often challenging. And so, conflict resolution is a key part of problem solving. As addressed previously, emotional intelligence is a core skill for ITSMs. Understanding of another’s viewpoint can aid problem solving no end, as you are better equipped to form a solution which works.

Upping your problem-solving abilities: Get familiar with your user stories. The more you know about your service users the easier it will be to find an approach which solves their problem. As with all soft skills, improvement comes from regular practice. So rather than shying away from issues or delegating to others, jump in and tackle the problem. Practicing problem solving on whatever scale will improve your agility and ability to adapt.

4. Continual progression

We are in the midst of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and digital transformation has become the norm. Organisations and users alike have come to expect continual service improvement. Change is being embraced as it comes with the promise of cost savings, speedier processes, better service and improved efficiencies. Managing change is a vital responsibility of IT Service Managers, and it goes hand in hand with continual progression.

The ability to identify and explore opportunities for advancement will drive success. Whether it’s prioritising automation of processes, or adopting new systems, IT pros must unlock the potential for service and business improvement. But most importantly of all, service professionals must manage change whilst minimising disruption.

How best to continually progress: In order to master change management, you must commit to continual learning. Training courses will help your skillset to constantly evolve as you discover new approaches, strengthen your analytical skills, and lead your team smoothly through change.

5. Being a team player

IT is now a fully integrated part of most organisations, and so being a team player has become a vital skill for ITSM pros. Not only must they deal with customers and clients, communicate with senior management and stakeholders, and manage their team; service managers also have a duty to work collaboratively with every department. Never has it been more important to nurture strong relationships.

Becoming a better team player at work: Effective communication and active listening come into play as you liaise with executives from other areas of the company. In order to effectively collaborate, you must coordinate workflows and IT activity across the organisation.

What’s more, being a good team player will set a great example to your team. The IT department must feel accessible to the entire business. Lead your team to know how to work with others, especially those who may not fully understand the technology at play, as this will be beneficial all round.