IT pro snows management but has no tech skills

What do you do when your incompetent coworker convinces management that he's the greatest thing since deep-fried Snickers? One member has had his fill of this tech's inability to do much more than conceal his ineptness.

Our What Would You Do? column offers a forum for sharing your knowledge and experience in dealing with the people issues that support pros encounter. In this week's scenario, you'll meet a SAP support analyst whose ability to do his job is being compromised by an incompetent team member. The team member uses charm to conceal his deficiencies from management.

If you have ideas about how a satisfactory resolution might be achieved, send them to us. Don't hold back and don't be afraid to be creative. You can submit your ideas either by e-mail or 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.

Playing the game

"I work for a consumer electronics company as a SAP support analyst. Our team of analysts, technicians, and programmers support approximately 10,000 users in a Windows 2000 environment. I have 20 years' experience in information technology, primarily in the areas of data communications, field installation, and support analysis. I have been with this company for approximately three years.

"For several months, I have been enduring a problem with a coworker who seems to have little or no technical knowledge or experience or any desire to learn. He is incapable of resolving anything more than the simplest technical problems. Every time he receives an assignment, he will take the problem to one of his coworkers and ask them for the solution. On several occasions, I have observed the interaction—as he is told the answer, he will repeat it back to his coworker as though he were telling them the corrective action instead of receiving his or her advice.

"Normally, in our environment, support techs who can't carry their own weight are soon identified and dealt with. In this case, however, the tech in question seems to have management completely fooled. In short, this guy knows how to play the game, engaging his supervisors in conversations on topics that interest them, everything from sports to religion. If he put as much effort into learning his job as he does into researching the personal interests of his supervisors, he would be an outstanding technician.

"The only solution we can see is to simply refuse to help the guy. But that would be a dangerous path to follow. He has management so completely wrapped around his little finger, we could get written up for not being team players. I have considered talking to him directly about the issue, but trying to find the right tone of voice and the correct words to make him understand the role that is expected of him will be difficult. I want to believe that he has the right intentions, but I have a hard time truly believing this. If his actions had no impact upon the rest of our team, I would have no problem detaching from the situation, but they do."

Your take

If you were in this situation, what would you do? Would you feel comfortable talking to the tech about the problem, or has another solution been overlooked? If you have any helpful suggestions or have been in a similar situation yourself, we want to hear from you! You can share your ideas by sending us an e-mail or by participating in 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 TechRepublic 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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