A professor at UC Berkeley once told me that starting any piece of writing with a quote is cheesy, corny, (and some other adjectives not necessarily related to food). So instead, I’ll begin with an analogy: Supervisors without a support staff are like nurses and doctors without a hospital. A support team provides the foundation to function, grow, and thrive. So it would only make sense that a strong support team is one of the most important aspects of a company. But what are exactly the qualities that make these members of a support team so valuable and critical within an organization?
Beyond the given skill set that is expected of a support team member (proficiency in computer skills, ability to work in a team environment, etc.), there are additional attributes and abilities that sets an even higher standard for a support team. Among these attributes includes the initiative to take on more responsibility and work than is currently presented to the support staff. Certainly, this is a clear-cut sign that the individual is motivated, willing to learn, and embraces challenges which not only increases productivity but the dynamic in terms of the tasks that can be executed.
Furthermore, when a support staff member understands the organization’s tools, how they work, and who implements them, it illustrates the solid foundation that staff has potential for further growth.
Understanding who are the resources for help and support (yes, a support staff needs support too) is fundamental to getting work done. However, it is not always that simple – asking for help requires consideration of the Project Manager or Coordinators’ time, understanding of the organization’s people, roles, and team dynamic.
And lastly, one of the most important abilities is being able to anticipate the needs of a supervisor. Being able to absorb work materials/ideas and execute a task with the confidence of knowing that it is the correct step is simply invaluable. Visualizing a workflow for a small task or a major project and then utilizing available resources to work through the task will draw the praise of any supervisor. Of course, this comes with experience and requires all of the previous skills and abilities mentioned above.
These attributes are tough to find but with training, mentoring, and guidance along the way, it is more than possible to assemble a strong support team. With the correct resources and time, a hospital can be built just like a strong support team can be assembled. And the end result can be quite sweet.
– Tin Tran, Project Support, HTS, Inc., TTran@consulthts.com; April Vicchrilli, MBA, Project Manager, Transition Planning, HTS, Inc., AVicchrilli@consulthts.com