CXO

IT pro gets mired in secretarial duties

Even a real tech go-getter can run out of steam when management loses interest in ongoing IT projects. How do you think this support pro should handle the decline of his job from exciting to mundane?

What do you do when your manager and coworkers ignore you or treat you like their secretary? In this week's scenario, we meet Kyle, a support tech in a small IT department for a staffing firm. Originally hired on contract, Kyle recently accepted a permanent position but is beginning to regret his decision. If you have any advice for Kyle, you can share it by posting to the discussion below. We'll pull together the most interesting solutions and common themes from the discussion and present them in a follow-up article.

Poor leadership sinks morale

"I'm currently working for a staffing firm with a little over 100 employees. The IT department consists of a manager, a sys admin, a developer, the help desk, and me. The manager reports directly to the company president. We support several Windows 2003 and UNIX servers, Windows XP Professional desktops, a number of SQL databases, VoIP, Microsoft Exchange, and Office. I have been a computer networking professional for more than 10 years. I have owned my own business and worked for companies big and small. I have a bachelor's degree and have some industry certifications. I am a bright, motivated, team-playing, responsible, fun, hard-working individual who most people can't keep up with.

I started with my present company about five months ago. I was hired on as a temp to see how things worked out. I was effective at getting some items that needed attention taken care of and resolving issues that nobody else wanted to deal with. After the two-month trial period, the manager brought me into his office and said things had been working out pretty well and that he would make me full-time with benefits. I happily accepted the offer.

Now, three months later, as a result of the unprofessional nature of two of my team members and the unwillingness of my manager to address any issues, morale is at an all-time low and I feel as if I am wasting my time. The whole department seems depressed and unmotivated. To make matters worse, the three members of the department who predate me are becoming increasingly cliquish, excluding me and the recently hired developer. I get the distinct impression that they regard us as a threat to their jobs. The source of the problem, as I see it, is the manager's unwillingness or inability to step up to the task of being the leader. Instead, he simply does what the sys admin advises him to do. He is also directly responsible for causing conflict between the sys admin and me.

My dilemma is that it is a good company to work for and I could be happy if my manager knew how to properly manage projects and the team. My position has great potential, as I was hired to manage a number of interesting projects—but none of them have come to fruition because my manager seems to have lost interest. Now, all I'm doing is network documentation and secretarial work. I do take some responsibility for the situation I am in. When I was offered the permanent position three months ago, I had ample evidence of my boss's inability to manage, and I should have paid more attention to defining my job description.

What should I do? I am miserable working here. I would be better off digging holes for a construction company or driving a truck, but that would not be a good use of my mind."

Your take

What should Kyle do? What steps can he take to improve his situation? If you have some ideas, post your thoughts to the discussion below.

Share your support dilemmas
Have you ever been neck-deep in a really tough situation at work—one that required you to wrestle with your conscience, tread carefully around colleagues and supervisors, or possibly even make compromises you weren't happy about? If so, we invite you to share your story with the community.

Send us a description of your dilemma, with as much detail as possible, and outline any steps you've taken to resolve the situation. We'll fictionalize the accounts we use to preserve anonymity and present them so that other members can offer their opinions on how a situation might best be addressed. If we use your scenario in a future article, we'll send you a TechRepublic T-shirt.

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