Operating systems

10 reasons IT pros get a bad rap

It's no secret that IT pros aren't too popular with some clients and end users. Alan Norton considers some of the underlying reasons for the bad press.

Why are IT professionals perceived so poorly by some? I am not going to try to prove or disprove the merits of the reasons listed below. Suffice it to say, the bad rap IT gets is justified if the client believes it to be true.

1: We're considered too well paid

It is common knowledge that IT professionals make good money. In fact, in the United States, they earn more than all other professions except the management and legal professions. Somehow, that just isn't right to those earning less. That geek with the pocket protector and accompanying host of mechanical pencils and Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pens makes more than they do with their master's degree. In a society where we often base our value on our wages, this is a blow to the ego of other professionals.

2: We can't respond to every problem instantly

When the shop floor system or a secretary's computer goes down, they need it fixed ASAP. Like the air conditioner repairman on a hot summer day, requests for service often come in bunches requiring the customers to wait in queue. No response time is fast enough for businesses that experience more than a few minutes of critical systems downtime.

3: We try to do the impossible

A doctor wouldn't try to diagnose a patient over the phone and yet this is exactly what IT support personnel are expected to do every day. We're expected to diagnose and fix problems remotely over the phone with customers who know little or nothing about the problem. My dad, as an example, has spent more than four hours on the phone with a support person to fix one problem. This type of support is at best frustrating for all involved and at worst impossible without direct access to the customer's hardware -- no matter how admirable the persistence and dedication of the person offering the help. If you have ever spent more than an hour on the phone trying to fix a problem, you can understand why technical support staff are often cursed. And it will continue to be that way until IT learns how to more easily gather all of the pertinent facts before trying to diagnose and fix problems.

4: We have to do the impossible

I've mentioned before the "missions impossible" I have been asked to do while at Computer Sciences Corporation. CSC has a wide variety of customers, some with archaic and arcane systems. There just aren't many minds on the planet with the knowledge to fix these types of systems. As an example, because I had installed OS/2 several times, I was considered the resident OS/2 expert and "asked" to help with a client's OS/2 problems. I did help install some network printers and hardware. But perhaps my most successful accomplishment was convincing the onsite CSC supervisor to ban the client's outsourced IT personnel from the server room. Regardless of my best efforts, I could imagine the client telling my manager, "Next time send someone who knows what he's doing."

5: We offer technical support and not personal service

While IT professionals typically possess a high degree of technical competence, our bedside manner often leaves much to be desired. The technical gap between the customer and IT is wide and grows wider every day. It is becoming ever more challenging to communicate to customers in simple and personal terms  what we need to do to fix their problem. It will be ever more challenging to narrow this communication gap to provide true customer service above and beyond the required fix.

6: We have a bad image

So often in a world of sound bites, image is everything. The image portrayed of IT is one of the aloof geek practicing and protecting his secret craft from the clueless public. People have a love/hate relationship with the geek stereotype. They can't relate- - but they do enjoy watching geeks and their bizarre behavior. Chloe and Edgar, Maurice and Roy, Sheldon and Leonard, and Abigail and Timothy come to mind. Viewers love them -- as long as long as they stay on the other side of their favorite entertainment delivery device. Mention that you work in IT, though, and you are immediately classified as a geek and at best you are tolerated. True geeks may embrace this term but to the general public it is not a term of endearment, especially when they have to interact with the real-life version.

7: We're seen as a threat to the average worker's job

Nothing brings fear to the heart of a person quicker than the possible loss of his or her job. Threatening to take the food out of the mouths of a family can immediately label the IT professional as the bad guy. Actually, it is the technology that is replacing a worker's labor, but the "victim" doesn't see it that way. The IT pro becomes the enemy and gets the blame for making it happen.

8: We suffer from the "golden boy" syndrome

For years, IT has been able get almost anything it asked for. Any project that made the company more efficient was funded and opportunities abounded. Yes, IT has grown up and has lost some of its "can't do anything wrong" luster, but the golden boy image lingers. Managers who have watched their budgets dwindle while IT's budgets grew resent IT to this day.

9: We are indispensable

Those in charge have become reliant upon IT technology and the people who keep it running. Complex systems need database maintenance, technical support, and software upgrades and maintenance. Non-IT professionals just don't like being dependent on others, technical types or otherwise. They prefer to remain beholden to no one rather than take another dose of humble pie when they have to call someone because their system is down. And they fear that gives us too much power.

10: We are too big and intrusive

No government activity, profession, or corporate function is safe from the invasion of the geeks. During the 90s, personal computers began popping up on employees' desks like mushrooms after a summer rain. Human resources, accounting, manufacturing, and legal -- they have all been infiltrated by the innocuous PC. Those PCs collect and send information to servers owned by the geek squadron. This level of information access is unprecedented. Information is power, and IT controls that information.

How big can IT get? A group of highly influential programmers and hackers could band together to head up The New World Coders in an attempt to control the world. Okay, that probably won't happen. But non-IT managers everywhere must be concerned about how much of their business they have to trust to IT.

The bottom line

One day you're minding your own business, building that office tower out of sand when... wham! Life smacks you upside the head. Your nemesis, baby brother, has arrived. You didn't know it then but your whole world was about to be turned upside down. And that is just what happened when baby IT was born not all that many years ago. Mother said that a baby brother would be wonderful addition to the family. What she didn't tell you was that IT would get all the attention and you wouldn't be as important as you used to be. Why does IT get a bad rap? Mystery solved. It is because the "normal people" resent us.

However, one mystery remains: Why do geeks always come in pairs when they are portrayed on TV?

Your views

Do you have a different take on why so many people harbor bad feelings toward IT pros? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About

Alan Norton began using PCs in 1981, when they were called microcomputers. He has worked at companies like Hughes Aircraft and CSC, where he developed client/server-based applications. Alan is currently semi-retired and starting a new career as a wri...

163 comments
crazzzik
crazzzik

The only reason geeks will not be able to dominate the world is that they will get stuck on choosing an IM protocol to communicate their actions.

lcterrynet
lcterrynet

I'm retired from IT and I must say that much of everything said in this publication is true. If you work for a governmental entity as I did there's even more than 10 reasons to get a bad rap. Even though these comments are true I still enjoyed my time in IT. I remember being told that "if you enjoy your profession you'll never work a day in your life" and I must agree. There were times that on a Saturday that I couldn't wait for Monday, just to get back at work. My suggestion is that if the negatives of this profession/IT bother you, find something else to do.

briant11
briant11

Not everybody thinks so, I still think I.T. is one of the hardest professions to do. It's probably easier to understand biology than learn how to program a computer. I have to admit, I think I.T. is complicated but that's not stopping me from attending this years Cebit Exhibition in Sydney, Darling Harbor next week. This exhibition is the Mecca of I.T. experts and fans of computer/internet technologies. I hope they don't kick me out, I will need all the knowledge of I.T. I can digest for this once a year exhibition ... I don't know if I can handle it, y'know all those classy people but I've already received my ticket so I guess I can't decline now.

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

#11. The only time you interact with an IT professional is when you have a problem.

Rémszarvas
Rémszarvas

The main misunderstanding is comming from the fact that even You regard IT support as IT professional. Professional well means that you are working in a profession, but it also implies that you are professional in it, since having studied the profession in question. So that's what IT support guys hardly ever do. For doing support you need to have just any kind of professional, convincing HR that you might be able to understand that couple of weeks training you get in IT befor you go online. And those are the guys the end user meets on phone....they just register the problems and send forward the pros. ....maybe. Most people never meet a real pro. but they read about the things you mentioned...and wonder.

smoran
smoran

Alan, question to you and all the underpaid and overpaid geeks out there. If you needed brain surgery, would you put up with the surgeon taking above you, because you do not understand the terms he is using? And thinks that you are an idiot because you have not study the brain? I will venture to guess that is a big no. The problem with technical people is that most have the ???I???m smarter than you mentality??? and all the users are idiots. What most of us forget is that is the only two reasons we have jobs. My challenge to all managers and tech is to spend 10 min a day reading or reviewing a video in customer service. It will go a long way to turn the image around. If we are so smart, why aren???t we smart enough to realize that above all the technical help we offer we are in the customer service business?

ozindfw
ozindfw

I'm not an IT guy, just a consumer of services. A big problem I see is that I'm often required to pay for services that seem grossly overpriced, but have no option other than to pay. $40/mo for email access with a 1 GB storage limit over and above a $46 /month net connection fee for each and every device. $38 a month for 'support' that doesn't seem to answer the phone or followup on problems. And don't try and tell me this in an anomaly. I've seen it at more than one employer and know several other managers in similar situations. I have no choice, and IT has no need to be competitive. Is it any wonder that front line IT folks are regarded like the tax collector and regarded as overpaid? Even if you were volunteers in this environment, you wouldn't be popular.

PCTS4YOU
PCTS4YOU

#9 was it for me. The IT professionals I've seen struggle the most are those that didn't have the opportunity to learn what #9 means with humility; those who started their career in IT, having never been on the other end of the phone as an end user. I've been fortunate enough to start as an end user whose calls to IT typically ended in frustration and disappointment to being on the other side of the telephone. Having that perspective is a luxury, and I would hire based on that same story in a second. Besides #9, I got into IT because I simply wanted a chance to do a better job than the guy who answered the phone, hid behind a locked door, and was paid a good salary to talk down to me. I was also tired of being afraid of the technology, and knew that #9 was a reality - it didn't offer job security, it offered _career_ security when my end user cube mates were getting laid off left and right. Those occasional, "oh good, you're here!" cries of joy when we do swoop in and save the day make it all worth while. Just know that if you do side work as a sole proprietor in the private sector, that love can disintegrate when you send them the invoice. Yet, if we play well with others, they'll be happy to pay whatever it takes to get, "that nice guy that doesn't make me feel like an idiot" again. We're our own worst enemy most days.

patrickm76
patrickm76

I suppose one answer would be that misery loves company.

lawbyter
lawbyter

The question was: "Why do geeks always come in pairs when they are portrayed on TV?" Humans communicate via conversation. They like dialogue in sitcoms. You need two characters to have a dialogue. OMG! I am now revealed as an incomplete geek. A real geek would not have understood the problem. Why talk to humans, he would think, when you can type at your keyboard?

zentross
zentross

1. (And I say this tongue in cheek) Two be there must -- a master and an apprentice. 2. Complementary skill sets are required and a reasonable amount of redundancy. For example: In NCIS, Abby may be queen of the lab, while Timmy has exemplary system skills. Conversely, Tim McGee is a reasonable field surrogate for Abby with agent training.

RMSx32767
RMSx32767

Because too many "IT pros" have lots of self-esteem and little regard for others.

mym8ty
mym8ty

To well paid! I worked for CSC in UK and was on 17k, expected to have the bed side manner of a saint, fix desktop issues within 6 mins and answer 60 calls a day. I now work in gov departments and still on a poor pay. Maybe its me and my colleages that just don't bargin well? As for hate from users, I can understand when IT make all the decisions about how, when, if we use email, storage and access sites. Then tell them to sign acceptable use policy without lawyers present and basically restrict everything hard working people do with the same old enterprise way. What happens when people complain? The same answer "its the corporate system" it is about time IT got back to being a service and not a boss. Rant over have a nice ITIL day :|

thomasmckeown55
thomasmckeown55

The trouble with the indispensable argument today is that there are ways around IT (BYOD, consumerization). We are not the center of the company technology universe anymore. We are essentially consultants working with other teams to solve the high-level technological problems. If you just say no all the time, nobody???s going to consult with you. They will just find a way to do it alone. http://www.real-user-monitoring.com/its-reputation-problem/

rahn
rahn

My company brought in an outside consultant to look at our department and make recommendations for future growth. That wasn't all bad but we were never told it was going to happen. Funny thing is the recommendations made by the consultant matched our recommendations almost verbatim and basically we were given a very good review. The whole process was handled wrong and didn't inspire a good attitude from the people involved. I think, because we deal with "things" most people don't understand, management feels like they need a second opinion. Who are you going to trust, your people or the outside consultants who know less about your business? We questioned when the other departments were going to have an outside consultant look at them. I'm guessing never.

cjreynolds
cjreynolds

I agree with most of these, but for the average user, bedside manner can be the real deal-breaker. I have joined support teams with dismal reputations and single-handedly improved perception of the group simply by fixing problems quickly and being civil (sincerely helpful) to the clients.

dragonator
dragonator

Geeks have to be portrayed in pairs, or at least more than one at a time, otherwise they don't have anyone to generate dialog. A normal person talking to a geek? Come on, what planet are you living on. :)

peterblaise
peterblaise

11. "... Computers are so cheap and their prices keep falling, so the price of your support should also be cheap and get cheaper every year, too ..." 12. "... I'm a doctor/lawyer/professional-specialist in my own highly complicated industry, but the computer industry MUST be simple and easy: see the glossy ads from Apple touting one-click operation? That proves I'm right -- computers are simple and easy, therefore computer support, service, and repair should be really simple and easy, too ..." 13. "... You touched it last, you're responsible for it failing. I'm not paying another nickel, you're staying until you fix it ..." 14. "... I'll be out of business if you don't stay as long as it takes to fix it, overnight, over the weekend if need be ... but I gotta go home now, it's 5 o'clock and dinner's waiting, and the kids have soccer tomorrow, but you stay -- see you Monday morning, you'll have it fixed by then, right? ..." 15. "... Wow, you got here so quickly, and got my one-and-only never-backed-up source of all my data working again SO FAST, you saved my multi-million dollar business! You're not going to charge me a lot for this, are you? You only worked 45 minutes! ..." 16. "... We got your accounting system to go from 20-minutes response time down to 2-minutes response time -- great or what? ... Oh, after 15-seconds, you don't wait for the screen to refresh, you get up and do other things for about half an hour anyway, you don't notice nor care if the task now only takes 2-minutes to complete, so you're not paying?!? ..." 17. "... my request can't be unusual, surely loads of people need the same thing and it's been done before, it can't be custom, it can't take a lot of time, and it can't be expensive! ..." 18. "... I bought it myself over the weekend and got a great deal -- can you now set it up to run my business for me? ..." 19. "... we change the backup tapes every day, what do you mean they're all blank? ..." 20 . "... Them: Can you automate my accounting? Me: What kind of accounting system do you do on paper now? Them: None. Me: Then, no, I can't automate something you don't do manually already ..." ... I have 30+ more years of these! =8^o

PCalvert
PCalvert

it's the biggest failing in IT in my opinion, the business generally doesn't understand how specifically we work, we use figures given from the business to build solutions tailored to fit the plan, but because the business doesn't speak geek we tend to then attempt to gloss over the cracks in the plan or don't implement an addon because it's not asked for so it's assumed it's not required. Then when it goes live it's seen that there's a missing part of the puzzle something not originally in the plan (the assumed part). This leads to failed delivery or delayed delivery and once you lose the initial momentum people then don't want to adopt the new technology. One classic missed delivery from my past was with a large(ish) scale web deployment being brought back inhouse, figures from the marketing team suggested that the website would have a million hit's per week so the solution was designed and built to support the volume with the 25% yeah 1 growth (we thought we'd be optomistic) with additional year 2-3 spend in increasing capacity. We went live and crashed and burnt inside an hour given marketing were proven incorrect on capacity and the site actually had over 1 million hits per day. Needless to say failed back to previous offsite platform and then went back to the business with real capacity figures and a bill for extra hardware requirements. The business saw it as a failed delivery from IT because the systems should and I quote directly from the Operations Manager at the time "be able to cope with a few more visitors than we expected".

Crash2100
Crash2100

Just like with the power and anything else, people like to think that everything just works and that it works whenever they need it. So they like to blame the IT pros for doing something that brought down their needed IT services. When usually, it was something a few clueless users had done themselves that got their precious IT service brought down.

oja
oja

After reading Time magazine or watching CNN or a movie, our users seem to "knight" themselves as "experts" in the field.

anne.sullivan
anne.sullivan

"The technical gap between the customer and IT is wide and grows wider every day. It is becoming ever more challenging to communicate to customers in simple and personal terms what we need to do to fix their problem." As more and more people are online and using the systems every day, the communication gap almost seems worse than earlier in my career. Once upon a time, I went in and fixed the customer's problem and they smiled and went back to work. Now so many people believe they are "tech savvy" and demand I explain in detail what I am doing and why. There is no way I can give someone 15+ years of UNIX or system administration training in a few minutes and their facebook, email and web surfing experience does not prepare them to understand any of my answer.

arthur_edisbury
arthur_edisbury

For number 1. Unless your a SAP expert then I have not seen any large pay packets in IT. Outsourcing has ruined IT because after, the service is crap and all services to the client are reduced to cut costs, your no longer on call ASAP your on a ticket system and reduced staff.

Christian Schiffer
Christian Schiffer

I did not even bother to read the other points as wages are far to low for the amount of work we do. We have to work a lot more than other employees, when the day is over we have to study to keep up with new technology, they think we work for fun, i assure you I don't, I work for money, that's why I bother going to work - MONEY! Programming is fun when creating new exiting stuff but that is a very small part of our job, we need to be disciplined, work hard and fast, keep impossible timelines create systems that preferably work flawless and get paid less than a dentist or a doctor, indeed many times even less than the plumber. IT pro wages need to double if you want us to continue inn our business and not choose another job, a job that pays and does not require us to work as much and as hard as we do. Now don't get me wrong, I love my job, but I am not going to add millions of value to other peoples businesses unless I get a fair share of the profit.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Hmmmm. Well paid? Maybe. But you don't see too many office staff coming in on weekend or working until late night to fix problems. Most have your typical 9 to 5 jobs. It guys get phone calls at 4 AM saying a critical server is down. Come in.

boucaria
boucaria

Love Monty Python, and Yes Minister since they both reflect some real life elements. About the only reference to pop culture that reflects what I see in IT each week is DILBERT. Anyway, service is the right way to go in all things IT. And doing guides. If the guides can help people I am paid to help, help themselves, then many seem to like it. However, many seem to avoid that side of things. My biggest battle front is cost cutting, that basically puts me in the same position as Sir Humphreys definition of the "Eunuch", Responsibility without power, AND managers that enforce rules that create extensive enmity, and then they wonder why people hate the IT department. And the scariest is the manager/supervisor who says that is not needed to fix problem "A" because we have never had the problem before ( think Security problem prevention). Of course the best instruction I ever got in recent times was "don't ask any questions", just fix the problem; so, how do I diagnose ? And I put in for clairvoyant training :-) As for pay, yeah right, some places cultivate downward mobility...

Mike Houlden
Mike Houlden

One other aspect you failed to mention was the long hours we spend trying to fix a computer,We are often expected to DROP what we are doing and attend to who has the computer issue,and then they whine about how much time WE take attending to them.In my 25+ years of working in Computers,I have dealt with this often.I have even heard all of the "Lame" stories about how their pc got in the shape that it is when it is brought to me.I had one computer brought to me that had weeds growing out of the case (again i was expected to create a miracle).It took me 3 days to fix that particular computer. Regular people are jealous of our ability to repair any tech gadget simply because they have to realize they themselves don't know a thing about something like technology.Usually at this point,I'd be the one who is left scratching my head wondering why the person ever got a computer in the first place.They love us when we fix their gadgets,and they hate us because we deal in technology and they do not.Another thing that they don't like is when we charge them for repairing their PCs.So,the reality is we are underpaid,overworked,and highly disrespected.

johnscar
johnscar

"IT" takes in a very wide spectrum of jobs. In my hometown in southen Oregon, a major local company offered listed jobs for software testers, payhing a range of about $8.50 to $13.00 per hour. 500 miles north, in Seattle and nearby Bellevue, jobs for "software testers" (also a wide spectrum of jobs) range from about $20 to $80 /hr, with higher rates for specialized skills. Wages for IT personnel maintaining networks, virtual labs, server farms, etc. range widely as well. You'd think that skills that were in high demand would get paid the most. The reason that caring and responsible kindergarten teachers, who are (to listen to the parents of small children) in high demand, don't get paid much is that the funding isn't available. The incredibly low wages paid to software testers in the S. Oregon company I mentioned are explained in part by that company's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy early in 2011. So, some IT workers are well paid and some aren't, and there's a raftload of reasons.

pjamer
pjamer

I like this article and I agree with it. Peter

sarai1313
sarai1313

try being a mechanic it is the same for us except for trying to steal some ones job.Oh yes we do both jobs mechanical and work on computers .An nine times out of ten you think we are tring to rip up you off when we say its not a smiple fix and wish it was are selves.

dcavanaugh
dcavanaugh

The goal of corporate IT is to help employees and customers (both of which are effectively "customers" of the IT dept.) In the ideal world, IT enables employees to work more efficiently, improves the delivery of service to the customer, all while reducing cost and increasing market share vs. competitors. Reality can be much different. People who have the political skills to ascend into upper IT management are seldom the people with skills to get the job done. Heavy on policy and procedure but light on technology, they hire people who worship the edicts they receive and issue supporting edicts of their own. The sycophants are unable to undermine their bosses by exercising technical superiority. None of this is by coincidence. Filling the technological gap is "rogue IT", the corporation's workaround to a dysfunctional IT department. Sometimes the rogue operators are worse than the original problem, but they would not exist if corporate IT did it's job without earning a reputation as the "preventers of information systems". I saw an environment where corporate systems were plagued with gigantic security flaws, excessive downtime, insufficient backup and DR planning, serious scalability issues, and generally not meeting the expectations of anybody. And yet, IT would thwart any attempt by anyone to improve the situation, using such excuses as "security", "need approval from the architecture committee", etc. The only possible path was using the people and the tools that were officially "blessed", even though both were responsible for the status quo. This brings to mind Einstein's definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.??? For example, "security" was the overriding buzzword that was used to kill off any potential use of any software that users might want to install on PCs. The corporation had an anti-open source policy that was made me wonder, "Where did they copy and paste this from?" In a classic case of "Do what we say, not what we do", corporate IT pirated software like WinZip, while banning free alternatives like 7zip. But the overseas division played by it's own rules, and they liked to send .rar attachments via e-mail -- none of which could be handled by WinZip. After hundreds of "help desk tickets" and a few rogue installs of 7-zip, the gods of "security", "licensing", and "architecture review" finally acknowledged the inevitable and solved the .rar problem by quietly installing 7-zip for users who complained of .rar files that would not open. But only after years of wasting everyone's time. Funny how the emphasis on "security" never addressed the concept of liberating the users from IE6. It seems underperforming legacy systems were designed by outsourcers who guzzled a bit too much MS Kool-Aid, leaving behind a house of cards that collapsed when it saw a browser that was not IE6. Although the company bought a commercial spam filter appliance, I have to wonder how they configured it. Users would regularly receive spam addressed to group aliases in Exchange. How the spammers got possession of these group names suggests infected PCs. How the company accepted incoming mail addressed to groups that were for internal use only suggests operational incompetence. Each attempt to honestly describe a serious problem was treated as an assault on their wisdom. The IT response was generally a form of "We know more than you do", with the ironic circumstances proving otherwise. In an internal company survey, employees were asked to rate the competence and helpfulness of various departments. You might think that HR would be dead last, but not in this case. Legal and IT were tied for that dubious honor -- which surprised absolutely no one. A year later, I saw a presentation by one of the corporate lawyers. She explained how their department had changed their strategy, to emphasize defense against liability but no longer by obstructing new business. They took down most of the internal obstacles, without any increase in lawsuits against the company. That gave IT sole possession of last place. Each wave of downsizing weakened the technological side of IT, while strengthening the paper tigers of administrative red tape. Sooner or later, the pendulum must swing the other way -- should be an exciting ride.

psmith
psmith

commiserate - verb, com??mis??er??at??ed, com??mis??er??at??ing. verb (used with object) 1. to feel or express sorrow or sympathy for; empathize with; pity. commensurate - adjective 1. having the same measure; of equal extent or duration. 2. corresponding in amount, magnitude, or degree: Your paycheck should be commensurate with the amount of time worked. 3. proportionate; adequate. Really, is high-powered technology permitting near instant verification of almost any item of information an excuse to tolerate glaring contextual errors? Another possible reason IT is disliked might be that on-balance IT has a net-negative impact on overall quality of life. This proposition is not presented as a given, but only as possibility in fact, an in perception. Anyway, it may be worth consideration. It's may be as simple as "You folks think you are geniuses, when the fact is you really don't know anything at all" applied not to individuals, but the entire technology.

Tater Salad
Tater Salad

"How big can IT get? A group of highly influential programmers and hackers could band together to head up The New World Coders in an attempt to control the world. Okay, that probably won???t happen." They could never get past arguing about what platform to use.

carola
carola

I think one of the biggest issues is that IT folks tend to speak a language that normal folks don't understand. We need to learn how to be more personal/personable as we serve our clients. It's not hard to do really - just something we have to put our minds to. People will like us better when they realize we're on their side and they can only know that if we communicate it to them in a way they understand.

Royale8494
Royale8494

It is sad to say but my salary (end user support) is more than just about everyone in the section I support, including my direct supervisor (non-IT). So in my case number 1 and number 8 are legitimate views. So I work very hard to dispel views 5 and 6 and feels like I accomplish 4 every day. and I do not ever consider myself or my position number 9 (indispensable). Because I always put forth an effort to help and fix issues as they arise - my coworkers do not resent me nor my work.

bind235
bind235

Because we deserve it. That's why. 1.When the business needs to do something our immediate resonse is 'No' (because we don't do it that way or want to take the time to investigate the request). We are an obstacle to business efficiency. 2. We condescend to the user. Rather than pleasantly assisting with the problem we make them feel foolish or run them in circles resolving the problem. As a result they will live with the problem rather than call for assistance. Gang, we need to get with the program or we will all be replaced with smart business area computer savvy go getters... The new technology supports them.

bratwizard
bratwizard

>> However, one mystery remains: Why do geeks always come in pairs when they are portrayed on TV? No mystery-- comic relief. Glad I could help clear that up! :-)

Mr. Science
Mr. Science

it's now way dated..... but how many remember "Nick Burns-- the company computer repair guy" a skit on SNL? it's funny because so much of that was true. MOOOOVE!

kjackson
kjackson

I have to agree with Hobyx's last item. I am always stuck in the middle. Implementing solutions that the front line workers see as makinig their jobs harder. Of course it is always gratifying when, a month or two later, that same solution breaks and they now can't do without it.

jarzola
jarzola

IT geeks like me have an ego. Yes we do get paid better, but with great power comes great responsibility. We are the first ones on the scene when something goes wrong, we are the first ones to be asked if something can be implemented, we are the first ones called when we have to install something, plug something, turn something on, and so on. Yes we have this knowledge and I am glad to be in the IT department. We have this reputation because when career day in school came along we were not "checking a box" we were creating the box that you mere mortals were checking. Don't hate the player hate the game.

Mr. Science
Mr. Science

the author brought up some good points, but a lot of you already said, "well paid"? not. as a guy who used to be in sales exclusively, I'm all about the customer service with a smile. but, it just doesn't take very long before that nice guy attitude is confused with "I own you now" attitude from the user. It doesn't help that most users aren't very knowledgeable either. And most don't want to know. It's best to just get what you can done and move on as quickly as possible. It's not uncommon to be expected to work thru supposed break times, sacrifice lunch hours, work late etc. with users thinking that's the norm. It's burnout city.

amxtaylor
amxtaylor

To me, it is about approaching people with the correct attitude. IT for a business is a TOOL, like a saw and hammer to a carpenter. People have jobs to do and they need the right tools to do them and we - as IT professionals - maintain them. I have explained to end-users this perspective when necessary and I think they do appreciate it. We are there to help, and not to show off or "be better than them". If there is anything that gets me a little irate in this profession, is the lack of respect or recognition that IT professionals do get. Going back to the carpenter analagy, a carpenter maintains his tools by keeping them clean, changing the blades and batteries so they'll last longer... IT does not often get a pat on the back for a job well done... while (e.g.) sales people often do in part because of their relationship dynamics. IT relationship dynamics can be challenging also!

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

Our users don't get that the IT field has grown so complex that there are experts in a given area who may know nothing about a different area. Hence the guy who is an expert in Exchange server management gets called incompetent when someone calls him in to fix A/V equipment and he's not instantly familiar - any more than the guy whose expertise is Marketing would be. We get paid "so much" we should know everything, as far as the users are concerned. It has buttons it it, so it's ours. ^_^ Our users don't know enough and aren't trained in the mindset that would compensate to allow them to work well with us when developing new complex projects. We may try to develop a program that will complete the steps they need in a logical order, but without the mail guy thinking to tell us that there is a manual step to stamp everything "received" there isn't going to be a comparable point in the end result. We do our best to compensate from our side, but if we aren't experts in the job process we're modeling, things can be missed and the ultimate result = GIGO. User merry-go-round - when every user or department has priorities and goals which directly conflict with those of every other user or department - but none of them talk to each other, they all talk with IT instead: User 1 - Why are you so controlling? You have the whole network locked down so I can't receive 200MB files in my mail, so fine, I'll put them all on the communal storage drive. And by the way, your spam filter just sent one of my real mail messages to my junk mail folder! User 2 - Why don't you protect me better? I just got a spam message in my inbox - and a virus from a link I clicked! And why is the communal storage drive full? User 3 - No, I don't have money in the budget to expand storage - work with what we have. And you'd better not delete anything the users put on the storage drive, they might need it!

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

But apparently by your up-votes, zero at the time of this comment, no one else does. That's a shame because this is one bad rap that you can fix. The techie with a good bedside manner should have customers flocking to his or her door.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

Hello D Cavanaugh. I understand completely your point about the need for "rogue IT" to get things done. It was a bit touch and go with formal IT. I needed access to their data so I learned early on to suck it up, turn on the charm and beg! :-) In the end we both had a lot of respect for the other. One of the highest compliments I received came from one of the mainframers whom I had only the greatest respect. It made my day, week and month.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

"Why do geeks always come in pairs when they are portrayed on TV?" Answers so far: 1. Comic relief - bratwizard 2. It takes two geeks to describe what is going on - l.j.pinson@..., hippiekarl, JJFitz, jjones, dragonator and lawbyter@... 3. One geek plays off the other geeks geekiness - that %#$*@ing writer guy 4. -Binary, 01 - bkindle@... 5. Why TV Geeks come in pairs. Because they won't fit in Apples. - rdinning (I vote this the "worst" pun of the day which is actually a good thing) 6. (And I say this tongue in cheek) Two be there must -- a master and an apprentice. - zentross 7. Complementary skill sets are required and a reasonable amount of redundancy. - zentross 8. Because it's safer that way. - Camellia55 9. I suppose one answer would be that misery loves company. - patrickm76 Edit: Changed format, added names and additional answers

JJFitz
JJFitz

Although I found the Nick Burns skits to be funny, none of my staff in my 13 years of managing an IT Department have come even close to that guy. If they did, they wouldn't last. The nerd in me has to point out how inaccurate and filled with technical mumbo jumbo those skits were too.

LalaReads
LalaReads

That last part about the users is so funny, and yet so sad, cuz way too often it's so true...

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

(Between #2-#3: It's necessary to have one to translate for the audience----hippiekarl). Someone else can paraphrase (or just repeat) my comment further down the page, and it will be treated (and 'thumbed') as an original thought. That's how we roll in TR Discussions ('hippie' serves me the way 'geek' does you: you aknowledge that's what society calls you, without agreeing on the specifics of their definition. I know what the world calls a 'hippie' and you know what they think a 'geek' is; we don't see ourSELVES that way, do we? We aknowledge the monikers, though, and do our best to upset the stereotypes to which they refer. When you're in a socially-maligned subculture group (like 'geeks'), coalition-building is a good thing; marginalizing/ignoring/paraphrasing-later comments from a similarly-maligned social group is the act of becoming a version of your own tormentors. I wouldn't have lit up like this (since this is my normal TR experience), but you commented yourself above about how you react to the public's view of 'geeks'....Some of us are *both*.

Alan Norton
Alan Norton

I didn't slight you intentionally. I always enjoy reading your posts. I hope you don't mind if I include you with the "It takes two geeks to describe what is going on" group. As you can see from the edit comments, I didn't start out including others and then before I knew it I was adding names as I read similar posts. Thanks for the education.

Editor's Picks