Friday, April 21, 2006


12 qualities of successful tech support pros

By Becky Roberts, TechRepublic
29 Mar 2006

Take a look at a typical tech support job description, and you'll find a list of fairly standard skills and responsibilities: Installs, tests, and maintains PC and network hardware and software systems; establishes and maintains a parts inventory for personal computers; produces support documentation... and so on. But being a successful tech support requires more than the ability to perform a diagnostic test or image a workstation. It requires the appropriate attitude and aptitude. And while skills and knowledge can be taught, attitude and aptitude cannot--they have to be selected for when the tech is hired. The following is a list of traits that support the attitude/aptitude side of the equation.

1: Respect for all users, team members, and superiors--even when it's not reciprocated
Showing respect is an acknowledgement of another person's value and knowledge, an essential quality of a tech support staff. If the users don't believe that a tech support person takes their problems seriously, they'll be less willing to communicate and they'll lose confidence in that particular IT support staff, the equipment, and the IT department as a whole. It's particularly important for the tech support professional to have sufficient composure to remain respectful even when on the receiving end of verbal abuse from an angry, stressed, and frustrated user. Although the user's problem may seem trivial from the tech's perspective, all that really counts is the user's perception of the problem, and that's what tech support needs to address.

2: Self-discipline
Being self-disciplined affects several aspects of the job, such as setting and adhering to a schedule, reliably meeting deadlines, delivering resolutions to the end users on or before the promised date/time, and sticking with a task until it's complete. Self-discipline goes hand-in-hand with respecting users; by making deadlines a priority, the support tech is demonstrating respect for the user's time. Self-disciplined support techs are more reliable, dependable, punctual, and able to handle more responsibility than their less-disciplined counterparts.

3: The ability to effectively prioritize tasks
If tech support staff are given any degree of control over scheduling their time, they must be able to prioritize their tasks. Effective prioritizing requires the staff to have detailed knowledge of each employee's role in the organization, a thorough understanding of the nature of the business, and a firm grasp of the business priorities. The rank and/or job function of the employee requesting assistance should usually figure as a major factor in prioritizing assignments. Assuming the environment is conducive to their doing so, tech support staff should do everything within their power to learn the business so they can gain the knowledge necessary for effective prioritizing.

4: Dedication and commitment to problem resolution
Tech support staff must be committed to seeing the problem through to resolution, which occurs only when the user is satisfied that the problem has been resolved--and when the solution is permanent and conforms to company policy. Consider the following example: A user reports that he can't run a recently installed application. As a step in diagnosing the cause of the problem, the tech elevates the user from restricted to full administrative access to his machine. The user can now run the application, but the work order is not complete, as company policy requires the user to have restricted access. The user is under tremendous pressure to ship an urgent order, so the tech decides to allow him to finish processing the order with administrative privilege. If the tech is not committed to complete problem resolution, it would be easy to simply close the work order and move on, violating the company security policy. Support techs must be both willing and capable of following all the steps in a procedure even in a crisis situation, pursuing loose ends when necessary.

5: A detail-oriented working style
Paying attention to the details is essential for the successful completion of a work order. Although resolving a problem to the satisfaction of the user is necessary, it's not a sufficient condition for a work order to be considered complete. For instance, in the previous example, the tech support staff still needs to determine the cause of the problem, fix it, document it, and restore the user to his usual status. The longer the tech takes to do this, the more problems could arise. Paying attention to the details helps ensure a consistent, secure, and reliable computing environment.

6: The ability and willingness to communicate
In many organizations, the tech support staff is the most visible member of the IT department, in daily contact with the end users. In this role as representative of the IT function and as intermediary between IT and end user, effective communication is critical. The staff basically has to serve as a Babel Fish, translating between Tech-ese and Human. He or she must learn to listen to users, acknowledge the reality of their problems, translate their descriptions into technical terms, fix the problems, and explain the solutions in terms the users can understand.

7: The willingness to share knowledge with team members, superiors, and users
One specific aspect of the staff's communications skills is a willingness to share knowledge. Some employees attempt to attain job security through the possession of unique knowledge. This is misguided, as most employers are aware of the vulnerability this creates and will seek to rid themselves of such employees. The willingness to share knowledge is an essential part of being a team member. Most tech support professionals work under great pressure, with little time for research or training, so they often depend upon other team members for the advancement of their knowledge. In addition to sharing knowledge with peers, tech support staff should be willing to educate their users. Training users to make effective use of their applications and peripherals and teaching them to accurately report computer problems will help reduce user downtime and speed problem resolution.

8: A humble attitude about knowledge limitations
Tech support professionals should recognize that they'll never know everything about an issue--the key is to know where to look for information and resources and to be willing to ask for help when they need it. They must be prepared to read manuals and take correction from others. It takes a certain humility to crack open a manual, go to a colleague for a solution, or press [F1].

9: The ability to learn from experience and from informal/formal instruction
After years of school and technical training, it's all too easy for one to relax his drive to learn, assuming that now that he is employed in his chosen profession, he has all the knowledge needed to perform the job function. This may be true in certain environments, but if the tech support professional ever wants to change positions and/or companies, he or she will soon find that the knowledge is out-dated and of limited use. Rapid change is an inherent characteristic of information technology, and those who want to remain productive within the industry must actively seek out every opportunity to further their knowledge, whether through formal training by attending classes or simply by reading, participating in forums, and asking questions of co-workers.

10: The ability to think logically and creatively
Apply a consistent, logical methodology to the resolution of computer problems. This means that even when confronted with new situation, tech support staff will stand a good chance of being able to resolve the problem, or at least isolate the problem area. To back up their logical thinking, he or she also must be able to make creative leaps in reasoning when the application of logic fails to produce a satisfactory resolution.

11: The ability to apply knowledge to new situations
This ability goes along with being a logical, creative thinker to form the essential nature of an outstanding troubleshooter. Some people I've worked with are excellent at following prescribed procedures in familiar situations but are completely stymied when confronted with an alien situation. Being able to adapt specific knowledge to new situations is extremely important; in most environments, it would be impossible to train the tech support staff in every possible scenario. The very nature of troubleshooting requires the ability to transfer knowledge.

12: A demonstrated independent interest in technology
I'm almost hesitant to include this as an essential attribute of a support tech, as I once walked out of a job interview when I was told they were seeking a candidate who "lived, breathed, slept, walked, and talked technology." In my experience, this type of person often makes a lousy tech support staff, due to a lack of interpersonal skills. Having said this, I still maintain that if the techie has no independent interest in technology and just regards it as a job, it will be an ongoing battle to keep the tech up to date with the latest developments or to elicit any form of enthusiasm or excitement for the work. Having a techie who is engaged and excited about new technology becomes particularly important during a rollout, where he or she is uniquely positioned to influence users' attitudes toward the changes in their environment. Rollouts can cause considerable stress to users who are now required to learn a new product to perform their job function. Having a techie who is excited and engaged with the new product will encourage and reassure the users.

I am sure you have heard the song "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club but have you ever given much thought to its meaning? While on Earth, you are living in a world of reincarnation which is governed by the law of karma. Karma begins to propel you as Soul on a personal journey through the universe. Karma ends when you have reached enlightenment and fully realise that this physical reality and the Universe itself is just an illusion. When you reach a state of knowingness that there is but One all pervading essence and that essence or consciousness is You!
So what is Karma and how does it work? While in the illusion you have a soul. This soul lives past, present, and future lives. To grow in love, joy, and awareness, you reincarnate into a series of physical bodies to experience different existences. This road leads to the experiences of being both sexes, all races, religions, and ethnic types throughout many lifetimes.
Karma in its simplicist terms can be described by the biblical statement "as you sow, so also shall you reap". Karma is the principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, total cosmic justice and personal responsibility. It brings 'good' experiences as well as 'bad' - a debt must be repaid and a blessing rewarded.
A more indepth esoteric look at karma gives us the following distinctions: Sanchita Karma: the accumulated result of all your actions from all your past lifetimes. This is your total cosmic debt. Every moment of every day either you are adding to it or you are reducing this cosmic debt. Prarabdha Karma: the portion of your "sanchita" karma being worked on in the present life. If you work down your agreed upon debt in this lifetime, then more past debts surface to be worked on. Agami Karma: the portion of actions in the present life that add to your "sanchita" karma. If you fail to work off your debt, then more debts are added to "sanchita" karma and are sent to future lives. Kriyamana Karma: daily, instant karma created in this life that is worked off immediately. These are debts that are created and worked off - ie. you do wrong, you get caught and you spend time in jail.
As a soul, you experience a constant cycle of births and deaths with a series of bodies for the purpose of experiencing this illusionary world gaining spiritual insights into your own true nature until the totality of all experiences show you Who you really are - the I AM! Until you have learned, you will find that pretending that the rules of karma do not exist or trying to escape the consequences of your actions is futile.
Although it may often "feel" like punishment, the purpose of karma is to teach not to punish. Often the way we learn is to endure the same type of suffering that we have inflicted on others and also rexperience circumstances until we learn to change our thinking and attitudes.
We are all here to learn lessons as spiritual beings in human form. These lessons are designed to help us grow into greater levels of love, joy, and awareness. They teach us our true nature of love. Where we do not choose love, show forgiveness, teach tolerance, or display compassion, karma intervenes to put us back on the path of these lessons. Quite simply, the only way to achieve a state of karmic balance is to be love.
Before you incarnated into your present personality, you agreed to put yourself in the path of all that is you need to learn. Once you got here, you agreed to forget this. Karma is impersonal and has the same effect for everyone. It is completely fair in its workings and it is predictable - "do onto others as you would have them do unto you" is a way to ensure peace and tranquillity in your own life as well as the lives of those you come into contact with. The law of karma is predictable - "as you sow, so shall you reap" what is done to you is the net result of what you have done to others!
Karma gives you the opportunity at every moment to become a better person than you are and to open up to the realization that you are the master of your own fate.
The goal of karma is to give you all the experiences that you need to evolve into greater levels of love, joy, awareness, and responsibility. Karma teaches that you are totally responsible for the circumstances of your life. They keep you on the straight and narrow until you have mastered your vehicle and can ride freely on your own. Once you understand that you are the master of your own circumstances and that everything you experience is a direct result of your past actions due to your thinking and emotional responses you can overcome its seeming negative effects by creating only 'good' karma.
Karma forces us to look beyond ourselves (oneness) so that we can see ourselves as we truly are Whole, Complete, at One with everything. Once we truly understand ourselves, we can see our divinity and our unity with all life.
Karma drives us to service. Love means service. Once you accept total responsibility for your life, you see yourself as a soul in service to God. Once you do, you become a fully realized being, allowing God to experience the illusion through you.
Belief in karma and an understanding of its workings will lead you to a life of bliss. Only your own deeds can hinder you. Until the time comes when we release ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles of limitation and fully understand who and what we are we will live under the mantle of karma. So until that day why not create some wonderful experiences for ourselves by "doing onto others, as we would have them do unto us".
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