The support I see #3 – Learn and share

Beach bonfire

This tale starts in a small town in Sussex, on a summer’s day that could only be described as perfection.

Sorry, just trying a new way to start these posts. I set the scene though right?

The year is 2013, a young(er) Kristian is sat on the beach after visiting his local library for the first time in 18 years. In those 18 years he hadn’t thought about missing the library, Amazon provides all he needs now, but as he looked back he started to remember all the things he loved. He loved that he could sit in a wooden fire engine and read Goosebumps and Horrible History books until the librarians kicked you out because they were closing. He loved the quiet and the sheer number of books, all could be his next favourite. He loved that they offered stories on tape, and also VHS videos. I wonder if mum will let me rent Terminator? No, ok then…

That’s enough of that.

The reason I started by talking about the library was that when I went back to join my local library as a 28-year-old I went straight to the business section. It was a small section but the title that jumped out was Buffett – The Biography. I had always admired the idea of Warren Buffett but knew very little about him.

Warren Buffett and rum

I went to the desk and took the book out. I walked home, grabbed a bottle of ginger beer and a bottle of Sailor Jerry’s and went to the beach. Pippa and I sat and read our books (Her choice was a Philippa Gregory novel about Tudor kings and queens). I read and read until I had been there all day.

There were so many lessons tucked away in that book. He is clearly a complex character and I don’t want to unpick all of that here. There were many things that stuck out to me about Mr Buffett. The methodical approach to investing, the lack of flashy cars, yachts etc and his passion not really being powered by money but more by success. In amongst all of these things there was one thing that really stuck with me.

Reading.

It has been said that a perfect day for Warren Buffett involves uninterrupted reading. He is a learning machine, studying newspapers, books and reports all in the pursuit of understanding what his next move should be.

Warren Buffett has said the greatest investment you can make is in yourself. To always be learning something new. Warren personified this idea by taking on a public speaking course early in his career. Tony Robbins, whilst earning $40 a week spent $35 on a course, and why countless CEO’s, Presidents of the United states and people in every walk of life have invested in going on Tony’s courses (See President Clinton, Marc Benioff and Kanye West).

Learn to support

Learning in a support environment requires an intentional effort to not just solve problems but to look back at them. It is very easy to live with a firefighting mindset, dashing from one case to another. This is vital and timely support is always needed. You will definitely learn things during this time. What is vital is to carve out time in a day to look back, even if just for a few minutes. What were the themes of the things I worked on? What documentation could I have used? What documentation isn’t available to customers yet? What could I have done better?

Team leads and managers should assist with this but the wonderful feeling that comes from being in control of your learning is your responsibility. Make your own time for it and make sure it gets done.

Each interaction is an opportunity to learn, and should be seen like that. What is the customer trying to achieve? What is their business? Have I helped anyone else in this sector? Is there another way to do this? This can bring a new way to look at your job, don’t want your role to be stale? Keep learning new things.

Share, share and share some more

If the goal of great support is to always be learning an equally important goal is to be sharing that information with as many people as possible. No one likes a paranoid support person trying to guard their job.

I believe that being generous sharing and communicating the knowledge you have is the only way to be in a support team. Take part in conversations with your team mates, document (I love documentation) and offer your team access to the skills you have built, acting as a sounding board for problems.

The benefits of this far, far, far outweigh any potential risk of job security. If you do get fired for sharing information and building others you should be running away from that company anyway.

Generosity is attractive, it shows a confidence. It makes you feel like an expert and allows you to further perfect your communication skills. If you can share with a good attitude, avoiding the pitfalls of “I know more than you” *Insert smug grin here*, you are building your team, assisting customers and building you.

That feels like a win, win, win.

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