A manager can make or break the success of an MSP, and hiring one is so essential. Based on their contribution to the business and the workplace a company can either grow or sink in the chaotic environment it found itself in.
It is easy to get confused and make mistakes when hiring a manager for your MSP because you are not aware of the skills and personality types that would fit with the management position and work for your company best.
Whether you are hiring a technician, a coordinator or a manager, finding and on-boarding new staff is crucial to your business and it is a process that is delicate and complex.
That’s why you need to take a second to stop and consider the worst and best scenarios, especially when hiring someone to fill in the manager role, since it carries great responsibility and has a big impact on your business.
This is a very important role and you should be absolutely sure that you are choosing the right person to fulfill it!
How can you be sure? What are the traits of a good manager and what should you avoid? In this article we’ve examined the traits and obligations of a manager based on our great experience and presented concrete answers to your questions.
You will get to know the importance of:
- Different types of roles and how to define them
- What are the management and supervision levels within a company
- What are the traits of an ideal manager
- The core values you should follow
- How to make sure you avoid hiring the wrong person
The ideal manager, as you will read further, is oriented towards providing structure, stability and consistency and has a passion for optimizing people’s performances and the procedures to help them with that.
That is why it is crucial to define the roles and responsibilities of the members of your company and especially the manager.
THREE TYPES OF ROLES
In a business book that we like, “E-myth” by Michael E. Gerber, it is stated that in each entrepreneurial venture there are three types of people:
- The technician
- The manager
- The entrepreneur
When a founder starts out their business, they alone have to be all three. That’s why small businesses often fail since when people are all three they can’t manage themselves properly while maintaining consistency in their work.
What are the focus points of these 3 types?
- The helpdesk technician should be a person who is good at interacting with people, has comprehensive technical skills and the ability to follow procedures.
- A manager is a person who can implement these procedures, integrate systems and is oriented towards optimizing staff and service performance. They understand the different dynamics of a team and the needs of customers.
- The entrepreneur should be focused on the big picture, creating ideals, coming up with ideas and leading the business towards growth.
When people start an MSP from the ground up, they alone become the technician, manager, and entrepreneur that will hopefully eventually hire more technicians. After growing the MSP further with new technicians, there is a need to hire somebody who is going to step in there to bring order to the help desk so that a CEO doesn’t have to step in on every issue requiring technician management.
This key hiring decision is a very important step in growing your MSP successfully since managers will drive the technicians to achieve consistent results that bring deliverable service to clients.
VARIOUS LEVELS OF MANAGEMENT AND SUPERVISION
A more detailed distribution of roles and a clearer definition of their obligation can paint a better picture of the requirements a manager should fulfill.
Different levels of management can be separated by the
- Visionary CEO – in charge of client high-level communication and relationship. In touch with business developing, sales and marketing departments and signing deals.
- Management – working on integration, client onboarding, implementing various methods, designing the service delivery, number and distribution of staff
- Service coordinator – makes sure that the system is being implemented well and consistently followed. First contact technicians reach out for escalations.
The CEO should design processes based on their visions of how the business should work, how new staff should be on-boarded and how documentation should be done. They possess a vision for the company and communicate with the manager about their ideals and the ways they can be implemented.
The service desk manager will be the second level of management that should decide how clients will be serviced, how many technicians should be on the desk and make sure they are following procedures. They also implement the ideas of the CEO, making sure that they are integrated into the system well.
The third level of management is the supervision level. This can be a dispatcher or service coordinator who will make sure that the designed system is being implemented and tasks are consistently completed. They will be the first contact the technicians turn to for escalation.
The service coordinator then reaches out to the manager.
If there is not such a role in your business, the tasks will be done by the service manager.
When you have well-defined roles like these, the technicians will be comfortable doing their work and have clear procedures to give structure to chaos, a well-defined escalation system that will make the whole process run smoothly.
As a result, there will be a framework of accountability.
|Visionary CEO||Ideals, Ideas, high-level client communication, scaling||Business development department and sales, high-level customers, out of the ordinary issues|
|Manager||Integrating ideas, staff and system organization||CEO and service coordinators, escalated clients problems|
|Service coordinator||Enforcing systems, handling ticket escalation||Manager, help desk technicians|
The manager works as a connection between the CEO and the technicians, mediating and implementing positive changes and making sure that you have the best customer service!
THE IDEAL MANAGER
Here at Support Adventure, through our staffing and outsourcing business, we’ve seen what management looks like when it’s done well and how team spirit can be managed and mediated by somebody who embodies the values of your company and adds a level of structure and consistency.
As a founder/CEO/manager, you should delegate this management role to someone detail-oriented and capable of managing people, especially those that can make sure that procedures in place are respected, while following the ideals that the company stands for.
They should be someone who is checking in with the other members, listening to feedback, looking at procedures that they’re giving those people to run their jobs with and looking at the results of those procedures. They have a passion for tweaking relationships to make sure they’ve got the right person in the right position.
Some of the daily responsibilities of service manager, among others, would include:
- Managing the resources and assigning technicians to tasks
- Mentoring technicians
- Making sure the company standards and procedures are followed
- Informing the technicians about any changes to the system
- Making documentation
- Keeping a checklist of daily responsibilities and goals
- Reporting to the CEO when necessary
- Cooperating with service desk manager (if there is one)
A good manager can:
- Implement and integrate ideas into systems
- Be a good listener and communicate directions clearly
- Be detail-oriented in their approach that is based on metrics and numbers
- Bring consistency, standards, and keep written documentation about that
- Create checklists that need to be fulfilled
In short, a good manager has a hands-on and detailed contribution to bringing order to chaos.
Integration is the keyword for a manager. An entrepreneur and a visionary, need to feel they can trust the manager to implement these ideas the right way. They shouldn’t have to feel the burden that comes with multitasking and with the time-consuming management role. With a good service manager they can freely dedicate their attention to scaling the business.
CONSISTENCY BUILDS INTEGRITY
The environment your technicians work in is important for their own and the well-being of the company. The environment should be such that it provides a minimal distraction from the work itself and is orderly, with clear instructions and procedures.
A manager has a great impact on the work environment and should make sure that the technicians are listened to and supported and at the same time make sure that the procedures are followed correctly.
Having good systems in place that will make your technicians happy and the workflow not overwhelming will reflect greatly on your services. Your clients will feel if the person who is helping them is frustrated or not satisfied and will paint a bad picture in their mind.
This negative reaction can be avoided by sticking to procedures and making them transparent for your clients. It can be done by having a manager who will:
- Make sure the clients are guided to the best way to contact you depending on the severity of their issue. For example: call for blockers and serious, email for less critical issues.
- Define the call wait time and stating what is the expected time someone will get back to them or solve their issue.
- Create a good escalation system by using Freshdesk, Connectwise, Autotask or other softwares while emphasising the quality of the notes written.
- Keep track of progress of the staff by using Timesheets.
One of the most important and difficult tasks a manager has is creating consistency in the company. It is a continuing process that has to be nurtured daily. Each task a manager does should focus on maintaining it. We’ve found that tools like Connectwise help greatly with this.
That doesn’t mean that change is unfavourable, it means making things run smoothly while implementing those changes. The staff will be grateful and your clients happy to come back to you time and time again!
A good customer support practice has consistency as it’s a core value. Your clients need to feel safe working with you and know what to expect each time they turn to you for help. If the wait time is not defined, the communication channels not utilized well, you might experience push-back from your customers.
WHAT TO AVOID WHEN HIRING MANAGERS
The thing that should be avoided is hiring people that have overlapping weaknesses. For example, many technicians might have overlapping weaknesses and lack a human-oriented perspective to look at people and understand what motivates them. This comes from the type of perspective they’ve adopted while working on technical issues but that can not be successfully applied to managing people and the intricacy that goes along with that.
There is a need for managers to manage roles such as dispatch and frontline technicians which require a different set of skills to the senior manager or CEO who should be in a position to overlook the whole system without having to dedicate too much time to managing staff.
People promoted from wrong positions can not bring the best qualities to the manager position and often won’t meet the requirements needed to keep the consistency.
Comprehensive management is a complex practice and having people who do not fit in that position will not feel good doing it or slow-down the growth of your company.
Avoid hiring people with overlapping weaknesses by:
- Defining the roles within your MSP clearly
- Hiring people who fit those roles instead of adjusting the work to the people
- Valuing consistency above all and make sure it is never compromised
With too many overlapping weaknesses your MSP will fail to deliver good service consistently. Without consistency, your business will fail to build the integrity that is needed to thrive and keep clients while attracting the top tier customers.
SUB-OPTIMAL MANAGEMENT STYLES
Through the years of working with MSPs we’ve had a chance to get to know some bad management practices and improve them either with consulting or providing management staff.
Some sub-optimal management styles we’ve encountered usually tend to be from people who are either:
- promoted from the wrong positions to be a manager
- taking on an additional role when they really don’t have the right management skills that help people thrive
In practical terms, a type of person who will not be the best option for a manager’s role who is a salesperson or someone who has the executive attitude in a manager role. Promoting people with this experience or style of tackling challenges is not good practice. These people have a personality and skills that would work well for a CEO or business development. Hiring them as managers won’t fulfill the expectations in driving the team morale or having the consistency to see it through.
Individuals who adopt more responsibilities, alongside the ones that come from their initial position, will not be able to split their attention in a way that will provide benefit to both roles. Most often, one or both positions will suffer and the quality of their work will degrade quite obviously.
|Technician perspective||Not human-oriented|
|Sales type of person||Skills best applied elsewhere|
|Entrepreneurial attitude||Lacking consistency|
Also, when the MSP grows to a certain point where it’s impossible for the owner/CEO to manage all the technicians themselves, they often promote the most senior technician to become a manager of the helpdesk. This, from our experience, is not a good practice.
DON’T HIRE SENIOR TECHNICIANS TO MANAGEMENT ROLES
Having technical expertise and knowing the systems in which the business operates does not mean that that person will also possess the soft skills needed for fulfilling a managers role successfully.
The means by which future managers accumulated knowledge and experience is important because it will be reflected in the way they operate and manage your staff. When it comes to senior technicians as managers, the problem is they started out as technicians and they won’t look at things from a human-oriented perspective (such as what motivates people, etc.)
The problem with having super smart technicians as managers in your MSP is that:
- They tend not to dedicate attention to understanding people.
- Difficult to accept the fact that not everybody has as much experience as them, or is as good at problem-solving.
- A lot of these technicians will just end up working well alone and not in teams.
To interface with the staff there is a need for managers to manage different roles like dispatchers and frontline technicians, service coordinators and the people who are working in these roles successfully.
The most senior technician can be of greater value for your MSP managing projects, working on improving systems and realising ideals alongside CEO and the manager.
Instead of focusing your attention on senior technicians when looking for a manager, look for a person who has experience in the IT branch but from a managers perspective.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP – HIRING THE BEST MANAGER
Defining the role of the manager using the right criteria is the starting point from which you begin the search for a person to fill this role and help bring your business to the next level of prosperity.
Embarking on a journey to find and hire these people is the next step that is needed to be taken and dedicated to fully.
It shouldn’t be taken lightly and might require a lot of time and energy, but all of that with a good goal that will bring prosperity and order to the company in the long run, if done properly.
To summarise, the best manager will:
- Be human oriented
- Have good organisational skills
- Have weaknesses different to the other members of your MSP
- Engage the staff and create a productive environment
- Have attention to detail while keeping the big picture as guidance
- Improve the systems, procedures and workflow
- Interact with technicians and help them grow
Here at Support Adventure, we have two members who are former service desk managers and service delivery managers at MSPs that have between 20-40 technicians that possess lots of wisdom. If you’re trying to grow your MSP, having management is key and we can help.
We hire the best talent, culturally compatible technicians with a great level of English. These technically experienced individuals are put through a testing and training program to ensure that they are ready to fulfill their role successfully.
Contact our founder and CEO, Eric, for a consultation!
From our bird’s-eye view over the relation between MSPs and their staff, the system and documentation we are in a unique position to provide valuable and rich consulting with practical solutions that bring tangible results.
Consider the position of your business and the direction you want to lead it to and we are here to support you and guide you through the process of growth. Have you need to bring more order or clarity to your MSP or simply exchange ideas, Support Adventure is what you are looking for!