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Help at work..political and technical

By CuteElf ·
Ok guys ...get the belt out AGAIN cuz I havent been in for awhile...yadda yadda.

here's the setup:
I'm working in a govt office now, as "Help Desk" person, IT level 2.

I just started 2 weeks ago.

This is a regional dept of the state and takes care of close satellite offices.

My issues are as this:
There is no documentation at all on how those sat offices are set up for comms. Usually they're one people offices- walks in, gets email, goes back out. HOW? Some are on their own cable modem, some are on other LANS under other admins...its not drawn at all.

The ppl in this office are very very gossipy and snipey. That happens everywhere...but..
C. told me to watch out for X and Z..and it seems that both X and Z now dont like me.

Was told by higherups that access requests are to be handled in a diff manner now. Requester uses form, sends to 1 email, gets done.
Uh, nobody told the requesters!
One day I'm at work (alone too), requester asks for acct...I follow protocol, and tell Req. to use form (nobody had told me they dont know).
emails start flying back & forth between me and req. saying you do it..Uh, I dont do accts(I'm not allowed), please fill form...
C takes over in my office pissed at me and says I'll do it. He breaks the protocol and just creates acct himself.

VPNS are common esp for the outer offices. There's no dox on how to use it..OR WHAT CLIENT IT EVEN IS!!! I get call from Z user asking if his VPN bork. Uh, how the **** can I help you if I dont know what you're doing??
I muddle thru it and it seems to work, but for god's sakes..

HO puts out a new GPO. Well, they didnt test it and it screwed things up, so I'm having to manually fix puters here. Nice, actually, so I can meet the users and put names onto faces. And answer questions. That I dont mind. This is actually cool.

When I ask C questions he's kinda like...shoo fly shoo. Or saying, You should know this stuff already.

Well, C, I was hired, and they damn well know I dont have much experience. What do you want???

My questions:
How the heck to waddle thru this mess?


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Sheesh, Elf!

by Tig2 In reply to Help at work..political a ...

Okay- the political stuff first.

Who do you report to? And who defines your success criteria? Find some time to meet with that person. If "C", one of the questions that you need to ask is what s/he thinks you need to work on to be more successful in your role. Ask for specifics- and take notes.

The new kid on the block- especially in a gov't environment- takes a lot of crap generally... until the next new kid shows up.

On the doco issue- is that an element of your job? Bottom line, if you need it, create it. If it is a part of your job, create it soon.

I generally develop a "Master Book" of things that help me to do my job better. I generally have policy/proceedure information along with "undocumented anywhere but vital" information. I always leave the book for my successor and have frequently had people ask to borrow it, information in it, or details on how to develop their own.

Remember- you can vent safely here... not there.

Gov't is its own animal. Good luck! I know that you can get through this.

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C is sort of

by CuteElf In reply to Sheesh, Elf!

my boss...sort of.
My direct super is in another regional office about 100 so miles from here.
Take a state, draw line down middle, I'm on right side, HO is on left..with the bosses and da $$.

I'm going to draw out a cheepo map soon for myself, and bug again for a vpn connex so I can at least walk ppl thru it.

I've also thought: what about a line straight out JUST for VPN and external connectivity troubleshooting..?

The one I report to is in HO. But he wont hear about some of these things cuz hes so far away. C is the person that was doing HD and Sys Admin and Net Admin job all rolled into one..
and so I've got the HD job while he gets to work on the projecty stuff. That's fine.

But because C's been here forever and knows the ropes, I ask him how to do things. He expects me to pick it up as fast as he did/does and not lose it/ ask again.

CutePissed Elf

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Use a pocket voice recorder

by NickNielsen In reply to C is sort of

Every time you ask C a question, take it out, turn it on, then ask the question. The first time he sees it, he will ask why or what. Explain that you cannot write as fast as he talks, and the recorder will allow you to save the information now, then take the time later to transcribe it to a document. You will only keep the recording until you have all the information trascribed, if he asks.

You might be amazed at how much more clearly and slowly he speaks if he knows he is being recorded. He may also mellow out a bit if he sees you (in his eyes) "making an attempt to learn."

Edit: You can get a good one for less than $50. Newegg link, if you need it -

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by NickNielsen In reply to Help at work..political a ...

That's a nasty-sounding situation there. Tig has pretty much covered the political side and hinted at the docs. If I may add a hint: document, document, document.

When I started my current job, I was in the same basic situation you are, except that I at least had documentation for some of the end equipment. I had no information on how the equipment was connected or configured, how it was supposed to be connected (dedicated ports, etc.), what equipment there was, and in the case of equipment I had never seen before, its purpose. I was able to get a good bit of information from other techs and through on-line research, but still did not have everything I needed. Most of the on-line resources came from the client's extensive (but not all-inclusive) intranet and manufacturer websites. (It's pretty bad when you've been to a support website so often that you remember whether the URL is support.*.com or www.*.com/support.)

I also started taking notes: what's connected where, standard configuration settings, how to configure equipment, troubleshooting steps, common problems and their solutions, etc. At the end of each day or week, I would type up the notes and print them. Over the last 15 months, those typed notes and information received from other sources have grown to over 40 MB. Printed and sorted by equipment/system, just the notes fill a 3" three-ring binder. I still don't have all the documentation I need, but the guy who replaces me won't be "that poor SOB."

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belt? ~perk~

by Jaqui In reply to Help at work..political a ...

naw I use a flogger, it's much more fun. ]:)

get to work before C one day, leave messages all over C's system saying
"did you remove your butt plug?"
"you don't need to be so anally retentive"
"sh!t splatters"

maybe even leave individual lube packages scattered around. ]:)

I'm the type of nasty sob that would do exactly that to ignorant people like C.
when someone starts giving you crap, that's when you can say, if he had given me serious answers to my questions to improve my job performance, I wouldn't have had to point out how anally retentive he was being.

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Moot Point now

by CuteElf In reply to Help at work..political a ...

Its done now.

I "didnt fulfill my job expectations" in my 2 weeks there, and offended people by using profanity.

Well. Yeah I did, and last time I checked people weren't that offended. And if they were, they said something.

Oh well. Whats done is done.

I just dont know what to do now, though.


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by NickNielsen In reply to Moot Point now

Sorry to hear that.

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I hate when that happens.

by stress junkie In reply to Moot Point now

I think that everybody runs into that kind of situation once or twice. I expect that it is a bit more drastic living in Alaska. I mean, how many computers are there in the entire state? Probably not too many. Maybe you should move to a civilized part of the world. More people -> more computers -> more jobs.

Your first post reminded me of the many many jobs that I've had as a contract employee. It seems like that scenario describes almost all of my contract jobs. I couldn't help but think that you definitely shouldn't think of working temp jobs like I used to do. People all have their little jurisdictions and agendas and the favorite person to blame when something goes wrong is the temp/contractor.

Here is a little story intended to cheer you up under the theory that things seem better when you realize that you aren't alone. I once interviewed for a temp job as a system administrator. The HR department handled the entire process. When I started work the first day I discovered that there were two direct employees and a department manager for their IT department. Remember that none of these people were involved in the interview process. I also found that another temp/contractor system administrator started work there the same day that I did.

Right off the bat the two direct employee system administrators were very hostile and the department manager wouldn't even say hello to either me or the other contract employee. One of the sys admins asked me if I knew how to run Novell systems. I said that I had done some work maintaining Novell but that I didn't know anything advanced. He told me that they had a Novell server that had been experiencing problems for quite a while. They were afraid to reboot it because they thought that the data on the disks was corrupted, but people were unable to use some of the files as it was running at that time so something had to be done. This guy asked me to fix it. Okay so I already had said that I didn't know advanced Novell issues and this guy was saying that he was afraid to touch the machine. Can you see where this is going?

I looked at the system from the management console for a while. I finally decided that they should take a backup, reformat the disk, and restore from backup. The direct employee didn't like that idea at all. When I got home I had a telephone message from the contract agency. The account rep told me to not go to work the next day. It turned out that after the other temp and I had left for the day these people had called the agency to fire us both.

I called the agency the next day and spoke to the account rep. He asked me if there was a problem with a Novell server at the job site. I told him what I just described above. So the people at the job site had used that as an excuse to fire me. I don't know what they said about the other contract sys admin.

It seems clear to me that this whole experience was about some kind of feud between the HR department and the IT department regarding hiring personnel. I'm absolutely sure that the job would have worked out with me and the other contractor being fired regardless of what happened. We had simply been pawns in a corporate brawl.

I didn't feel bad about it. I knew that this job was not about supplying IT services to a legitimate customer. It was a setup.

Anyway I get a chuckle out of this story from time to time. It just shows that you never know what is going to happen when you start a job.

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