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Stepping on toes - job desciption creep

By angry_white_male ·
Our IT dept - 5 people: Director of IT, Network Admin (me), AS/400 programmer, SQL programmer, Helpdesk guy

Director of IT was the network admin before he became director when his boss retired - pretty much my fallback guy for when I'm out on vacation for the week. Our helpdesk guy is a sorta jack of all trades for PC's, printers, etc... - but is pretty much relegated to the mundane everyday things like answering the helpdesk phone, printer consumables, answering stupid questions, moving stuff around, etc. Our AS/400 programmer sticks to his job - programming the midrange and doesn't stray. Our SQL programmer is brilliant at what he does, however at times he thinks he's a network admin / helpdesk guy and drifts off to fix someone's PC problem when he's got projects piled up on his desk.

One of the issues I have is that the SQL and helpdesk guys tend to work on tasks that they're not assigned to do - which takes their focus away from those projects they're working on.

The network is my domain - the servers, mail system, infrastructure, etc... etc... Once in a while while going through the helpdesk queue - I'll see that the SQL guy is out fixing someone's Palm problem, or even worse playing around with Group Policy on the domain controller to make something he's programming work better (in a live environment!!!). Or that the helpdesk guy is granting people permission to the network, plugging in a vendor system to our network, etc. Now, I'm not really a control freak - but when it comes to the security of the network, the fewer hands you have in the pot, the less likely things are gonna get screwed up. Part of the problem is that my boss told me to give these guys full admin rights to the domain (which I disagree).

How are things in your shop - do you have clear boundaries where the programmer just codes and the helpdesk guy answers the phone? Or are people expected to pitch-in when someone's out sick or on vacation? They do it whether I'm there or not... never ceases to amaze me.

I don't mind the help from time to time when I'm insanely busy as long as they are following my guidance, but the little surprises that crop up from time to time by people who act before they think about the consequences is what gets under my skin. Or am I just being an untrusting control freak?

Now, I know our helpdesk guy has to start somewhere... but he's been with us for nearly 6 months now and he still requires a lot of hand-holding, so I'm wary when it comes to letting him get a taste of what I do (he runs the backups - a chore in my book grabbing tapes from another building every day).

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Stepping on toes

by LouK In reply to Stepping on toes - job de ...

I'd definatley be freaking is someone with 6 months experience had full domain admin rights on my network. There is no way in a million years I would allow that. Have you gone back to your boss and explained to him what is happening and the potential for disaster this situation has?? Put in potential downtime costs, that normally gets their attention. I'd try to get his under control without alienating the other guys though, the fact you need them when busy means you need them on-side. You could also try to be a mentor to help desk guy and show him best practises and teach him things the way you want them done, he would probably respond well to this as he does seem keen to learn if not a little too keen.


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What to do with job creep

by j.lupo In reply to Stepping on toes - job de ...

Well you are a small shop and it is possible that the other members just want to help out in other areas. Why not setup brown bag lunches for training session. This way you can clearly establish what is permissable and what isn't in your absence.

You are a small group and in small groups you can't take a big corporate attitude of "stay in your own cube and don't come out". Do you want a Dilbert shop?

Build teamwork where they KNOW they can come to you for guidence and you will find less "creep" with them going behind your back. Also, if you know they have enough on their own plate to work on, well that is a topic for the manager and not you. These are your colleagues and team mates. Not your staff. Treat them with professional courtesy.

Here is another thing. Don't give them the Admin access for the network. Their access should be specific to the tasks they need to accomplish and no more. That will help in some respects.

Remember try to think teamwork, cross-training, collaboration, and professionalism.

Just my opinion. Good Luck.

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Good question

by jkaras In reply to Stepping on toes - job de ...

I think jlupo said it quite well on what to do. I am currently in a small IT deptartment with only four strong. I am the helpdesk stuck doing the mundane things while the rest of the team does the meat and potatoes of networking. I desire a larger role or experience to further myself, I just have to wait for the opprotunity.

I do understand why you only keep certain hands in the pot, but a good manager has to train his/her staff to be prepared for the worst. Each employee should be trained to back up the other. If you leave your staff to only delegated chores it could cause problems if someone quits, gets fired, or has an ailment being out for time, how much work will be lost or much more work will it create? You also have to think about your employee's needs for advancement. The ongoing argument is "if I invest in them, then they will leave, and I have to retrain all over again". This is a fallacy, most people stay with their employer because they are happy both monitarily and professionally. If they desire advancement and the current job cant provide it then they will leave anyway, if they werent happy to begin with they will leave anyway. If you invest in them it will pay in dividends in productivity, respect in the work place, more team atmosphere, and I bet more longevity (just look at most successful businesses with lower turnover). You have to remember you are where your employees want to be in life, successful, they are trying to make their mark to provide a good life for themselves and their family. Maybe they are just trying to show initiative for more opprotunity? I would take each one of them into a private meeting and have them declare their goals for employment/expectations, declare what will be in their current scope of work as well as a plan to offer more training and limited access with hands on experience only under your direct supervision till a time comes to grant full access. I would discuss with your director to create power user accounts for them under a compromise of access according to your training plan. If you point out the specifics of proper caution then all will be satisfied. Information is power and the more information your staff has the better they will be.

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Well said

by j.lupo In reply to Good question

You are right in your suggestions. It is so important to invest in your staff. This wall of silence that I see in so many large, medium, and small companies is unbelievable. Building win-win situations is what business should be about. Sometimes I think we all get too cautious and forget the human element.

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by angry_white_male In reply to Well said

I'm definitely all about teamwork, but when a more junior person goes ahead and does the tasks of a more senior person - AND does so without keeping the senior person in the loop or at least getting guidance if this isn't something he's done before, then there's a problem. Communication and teamwork go hand in hand. Perhaps they're reluctant to come to me because I tell them "no" as my default answer until they give me a reason why I should grant Joe User these rights (at the very least I like them to analyze the request first - not just automatically say "yes" to everything that comes their way). I don't mind him doing some of the more mundane stuff, but for Pete's sake - let me know about it first!!

He's eager to please and reliable - great traits to have... but because someone asks for something doesn't mean you just go and give it to him. I hate to see him turn into a pushover for people to take advantage of. Bad enough my boss is a yes-man to people at or above his level.

I hate - HATE - quiet people who don't communicate. I don't want my network crashing down because the helpdesk guy decided to give Joe User admin rights to the network without my say-so first and that neat screensaver that Joe User just installed is actually a destructive trojan virus that the AV hasn't picked up on yet.

My perspective is this - I don't see our shop as a training ground for inexperienced people. We don't have the time or resources to be a training ground. Large companies with big IT departments are another story. In a small shop, you need people who are trained and can hit the ground running with minimal training other than the initial break-in period of this is how we do it. As it is, we have to hold this guy's hand more often than we'd like, but that was my boss' decision to hire him - not mine.

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That is my point

by j.lupo In reply to

You stated that he is eager to please and reliable. Therefore, you have to just keep re-iterating policy to him till he gets it. When you tell him NO, do you say WHY the answer is no? Maybe this is putting him off communicating with you. Just a thought.

I know that I have lots of experience and can hit the ground running in my current work, however I have been slapped with NO so many times, that I am afraid to ask to go to the bathroom anymore.

Can you specify to him what you have said here? Believe it or not, that is training. Training takes all forms and is very necessary regarless of size of the company. It is called creating a learning organization and a knowledge base. Share ideas, share experiences, and so on. Isn't that what this forum does? Share?

I hope I have expressed this ok. It is not an attack on you, just thoughts and opinions about your concerns. Good Luck.

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by angry_white_male In reply to That is my point

Doesn't help that my boss reassigns work at random to the wrong people. Just now got copied in on an e-mail from the boss to the helpdesk guy that he's to take over running mail/web filter reports. Sorry, but that's not a helpdesk function, but should remain in the realm of the network/security admin folks (which would be me). These reports contain very sensitive information regarding employees (i.e., those who surf websites related to specific health or personal problems... the one incident we had with a VP surfing kiddie porn, etc...). The less people who know this - the better.

That's one thing that I hate - when you find out a duty has been reassigned to someone and you find out by being CC'ed in the e-mail, rather than being approached first.

I fired off an e-mail back to my boss raising my objections. His response will be interesting (I'm willing to bet he'll dig in his heels and stand his ground).


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by j.lupo In reply to

Depends on how you phrased your objections. I think perhaps your boss needs to develop clear job descriptions for everyone so that HE/SHE knows what they are suppose to do. Sure helping each other out is fine, but that doesn't mean that all tasks should be misdirected.

I feel your pain. At least your boss did tell you about it instead of you finding out later and thinking the guy was doing it on his own. Maybe there are other things your boss has directed his way and the helpdesk guy thought you knew about it. Just a thought

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by angry_white_male In reply to Depends...

Well, strong communication skills with his staff is something he's needs to improve. Rarely even says hello/goodbye, good morning/night, etc. He has a small side business - we had no idea til it was featured in the newspaper... found out he's getting engaged through someone in payroll. Not that his personal life is any of my business - but it's nice to hear it from the source rather than through a 3rd party.

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My 2 cents

by EMJ65 In reply to Stepping on toes - job de ...

I'm the Helpdesk Analyst working in a small IT group. We have a Network Administrator, two Desktop support people, well, three, when the guy is here...but that's another story. We all have Domain Administrator status, but if a request comes into the Helpdesk that is network-related (and out of my realm of management), I always run it by the Network Admin. The majority of the time, I handle the request, but I keep him in the loop, which is all part of working on a team. There are so many things going on behind the scenes that I don't see, and security is so important, that I would be nuts not to go to him. I know enough to get into trouble, if I want to, but I respect him enough to let him know what I'm doing. The real issue here is that if something gets FUBAR'ED on the network, who is the one they will point the finger at? Have you talked to the Helpdesk person and asked them to make sure you are involved in any changes he makes to the network? Keep at him, and also document what he's done on the network so that you can fix it or let your boss know if he affects something adversely.

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