I have been in the technical support field for over 15 years in one capacity or another.  My daughter has been a competitive cheerleader for six years and a Hip Hop dancer for two of the six.  Needless to say, when I started working for a software company in a technical support capacity, I didn’t really equate it to a competitive cheer competition.  . . But being a cheer dad and seeing the amount of energy and excitement that a cheer competition brings got me thinking about my experiences in both these areas. Surprisingly, there are more similarities between cheer and tech support than you would think and I would like to share some of these insights with you.  Silly as it may sound, they just may help your organization.

Team Work
Team work has many levels of participation and without a strong, cohesive team performing as one, you may never be able to properly execute the task at hand. To build the aforementioned team it takes a tremendous amount of energy and time; constant training and practical application is needed to hone in on the skills and temperament of your teammates. As in competitive cheer, you need to have a strong foundation or base to properly hold the flyers (those being lifted or tossed) in the air or they can be seriously injured. When you apply that to the support of a product, the technical support team likewise needs to have that same strong base.  This knowledge and experience, accumulated over time with lots of hard work and dedication, helps support people who are new or less seasoned on the product/solution.  You also have to have a tried and true process in place to support the team members and further strengthen the foundation.

A good support staff will also show a dedication to elevate themselves and the process as a whole to the next level to prove they are the best at what they do. This will only serve as a better avenue for the client to go above and beyond when supporting the product in their environment as well as providing that client with a great experience. The same can be said for the cheer team; the team is there to provide a great spectator experience in showing the crowd what each and every member is capable of individually and as a whole.  Maybe it even inspires some in that crowd to go above and beyond in their own endeavors whether that be business, sports, hobbies, parenting, etc.

The road to get to this level is never easy and can take quite a bit of time and practice to reach your goals. Cheer competitions, for the most part, require a lot of practice and also the time and dedication it takes just to travel to reach their destination, but this is part of the process the team has to go through to prove they are the best by winning. Without this validation of their efforts, the team may lose interest and will never truly expand their knowledge set or know what they are capable of accomplishing let alone grow from it. The support of a product with a client can also take time to complete, some longer than others, but without the above mentioned training and practice, the support team can never hope to resolve the incident in a timely fashion. If support doesn’t do its job, the client will become disenchanted with the application’s quality or and its ability to solve their challenges.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you’re attempting to complete a complex pyramid or handling an escalated high priority incident for a client, if your team hasn’t invested the time and energy to improve their skill, teamwork and overall process, then you’re doomed to fail. This could potentially cause severe injury from the cheerleading perspective or tarnishing the product and/or companies name and reputation in the client’s eyes. Which, if allowed to continue unchecked, can cause the members of the cheer squad or the support team to lose faith and quit. This happens more often than not and is often due to poor training, development and motivation causing the team to never reach that next level of excellence.