Disruptive or disgruntled users can be the worst part of working an IT help desk. These problem clients range from annoying and mischievous to rude and destructive. I’ve dealt with several such users and have yet to find the perfect solution. However, I have discovered several practical steps for dealing with difficult users and detailed them in my article “Learn how to handle disgruntled and disruptive users.”
In response to my suggestions, TechRepublic members sent in their own horror stories and ideas for dealing with problem users. In reading them, I’ve not only learned several additional approaches, but also that my stories weren’t the worst out there. Take a look and see for yourself.
Users often find a back door
TechRepublic member Becky E. writes, “Thanks for the good article. The way we've handled this situation is by putting in our Policy Manual that no one is allowed to use the Internet except for management. We've tried locking down our clients, but I have found that even by doing this, users seem to be able to find a 'back door,' and they access it. Of course, the worst employee we had for this sort of attack was fired immediately! I'm still trying to solve the back-door issue so it won't happen again. I'm going to check into the Full Armor you mentioned in the article as it took me a full year to get my system up and running, and I will not allow one disgruntled or even a curious user to screw it up!”
Screen saver passwords
Travis T. reports having trouble with a user who kept putting screen saver passwords on his machine. “Every time I would go to install something, the screensaver would come up, and I wouldn't be able to get in without turning the machine off. So I simply deleted all of the screen savers off of his computer.”
Suggestions for disgruntled users
Nawaz B. offers a few suggestions to follow when dealing with users who intentionally cause problems. However, make sure you’ve looked at all the facts before accusing someone of deliberate damage.
- Don’t explain the problem’s true nature to the user; a disgruntled user may repeat the problem.
- Never share the problem’s solution with your disgruntled users. They may find a way around it. They may also try to fix the problem themselves and, in doing so, make things worse.
- Instruct users to refrain from tampering/playing with systems settings.
- Impose tight desktop security.
Standardizing the Windows desktop
TechRepublic member Denis F. reports having users who frequently change their desktops and screen attributes. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but supporting a hundred different desktops isn’t easy. The different desktops impede Denis’s ability to fix his users’ particular problems. “I've tried telling them that if they leave their system set the way I laid it out, it makes it easier for me to fix. They are also less likely to do something that is going to cause a problem with something else. Some of their ideas of ‘easier to see’ really hurt my eyes, and I can't get them to understand that they are causing damage to their own eyesight by looking at those bright colors (red on black) for eight hours a day. Some people respect my advice, but others are stubborn.”
The worst yet
Nathan K. exposes just how bad things can get. I can’t verify this story’s validity. We’ll just have to take Nathan’s word on it. “A few contracts ago, I had a user who really hated the IT people and the machine he worked with. So on his last day, he urinated on the monitor and keyboard and left a note for me that said 'SURPRISE.’”
Do you have disgruntled or disruptive users? Would you like to share a user horror story? If so, we'd love to hear about it! Feel free to post a message below or send us an e-mail telling about your experiences in the IT Support field!
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.