I have worked for the same organization for nine years. My dilemma has to do with my company’s technical decision to go with Windows 2000 over the current NetWare system—a system I am passionate about. I am beginning to feel burnt out. I don’t believe that Windows is the best solution for the company, but I am being forced to learn and implement Windows.

Am I being resistant to change or is learning Windows the best way to go? I feel like I need to get an IT management job somewhere else before I lose all self esteem and have to go dig ditches for a living.

I sympathize with your situation, and please don’t feel that you are the only IT manager going through something like this. Living through a change in core technology is one of the most common experiences that a senior IT person has these days. At least once in a long career, an organization will decide to move from a stable, working technology to whatever they feel is the latest and greatest.

Part of the impetus behind the change is that IT managers want to improve productivity and want to prove they are worth their salaries. Having the courage to leave well enough alone is something that only really experienced tech leaders seem to have. Often tech executives want to try new systems to gain experience even if their senior staff leaders are opposed.

Time will tell if the switch to Windows is the right decision for the company. Even if the company did a comprehensive system analysis that persuaded them to make the change, it might not bring them the expected benefits. It might, though. No matter what the outcome, you will have the opportunity to learn some new technical skills.

Make the best of a bad situation
If you like working there, aside from the switch to Windows, then consider staying put and setting aside your initial reservations. Learn all that you can about the new system, and volunteer for tough assignments. As the decision to go with Windows has been made, you don’t want to be seen as a troublemaking naysayer.

So, work hard and quickly to develop a positive, open-minded attitude about the change. Bolster your enthusiasm by seeing the situation as a valuable opportunity to compare two of the top networking systems in a real world environment. Don’t talk down Windows, but keep comparing the two systems in the privacy of your own mind. See if the new system delivers on the expectations and is worth the time and expense to convert.

Learning all these new skills (on the company dollar, I assume) is a good way to combat burn out. Seize every opportunity the company gives you to learn all you can about the Windows 2000 networking systems. That way, if you decide to leave in a year or two, you will have increased your versatility and marketability. Perhaps you could find a company that tried Windows and is now moving to NetWare. You’d be invaluable to such a company.

If you want to keep your NetWare skills up-to-date, seriously consider approaching Novell about becoming a certified instructor. You could keep your day job and teach classes on nights and weekends. You’d be able to put some extra cash away while you keep your skills fresh. There is nothing like teaching to keep you on top of the details. Novell has an extensive tech training program for its software, and good instructors are always in demand.

As you may have gathered from my comments, I think your best option would be to stay put and learn all you can about Windows 2000. If you adopt a professional attitude (“I’ve said my piece, but you’ve made the decision. I’m behind you 100 percent.”), then you will be able to save face and keep a good job. Nobody agrees with a company in every decision, and disagreeing doesn’t mean you have to get another job.