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Unfair Reprimand

By MMarble ·
This rant is along the same lines of ?How to convince users to use their computers only for business related work?. Every few months or so I send out three mass emails: 1) Instructions for contacting the helpdesk. 2) A copy of the official acceptable usage policy and 3) A BSA handout explaining software piracy. I do this for the benefit of new employees and perhaps a few workers that need a reminder. I just got verbally reprimanded for doing so. Apparently a lot of users got angry about it this particular time and complained to the manager. I?m pretty p*ssed off myself. I don?t expect to be reprimanded for doing my job and I?m confused about the double message. On one hand they want to hold users accountable for following the policies, but on the other hand users are allowed to complain (and criticize IT) if the policy is articulated to them. The emails are worded exactly the same way in their employee manuals and new user handouts. I?ve been doing this for the past four years. What did I do wrong?

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Sounds like--

by mjd420nova In reply to Unfair Reprimand

It happened to me, a new executive hire didn't
like the fact that the e-mails were the same
for everyone. I guess the new hire maybe feeling
guilty or doesn't like the fact that it applies
to everyone and he gets no special priviledges.
A reprimand for doing your job, that points right
to the exec who is trying to influence his
department and has enough pull to affect your
bosses decisions. I've seen it before, hang in
there and keep doing your job, eventually the
FATHEAD will get caught up in another SNAFU
that will land him in hot water, and you don't
want to get splashed on.

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Perhaps There is a Better Communications Method

by Wayne M. In reply to Unfair Reprimand

If I may hazard a guess, it was not the information that was disliked, but rather the method of communication. Treat this like any other problem and trace it to its root cause.

Follow up with the manager cocnerning what the complaints were. Consider whether mass e-mails every couple of months are really the most effective way to communicate the different issues. I might recommend that new user information be provided to new users immediately. Helpdesk contact information needs to be available on demand, perhaps as a web page, or perhaps as a written document given to new employees. Acceptable use and software piracy might be better handled as a yearly training event with a user signature required.

If the complaints, however, concern the content of the policy, carefully review the complaints and be prepared to either relax rules or request line managers to enforce them. Keep in mind that rules that line managers do not feel are valuable will be violated.

I think it is inappropriate for the manager to issue a reprimand in this situation. To go forward, however, I suggest that you put that behind you and approach the manager to define "What went wrong?" and "What can we do better?"

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You're NOT doing your job

by amcol In reply to Unfair Reprimand

You're overdoing it.

You got spanked because you did something good a little too often. Your users are rebelling because they perceive the reason you're sending out these mass e-mails every few months is that they're not to be trusted. Some of them are blaming you personally because you're the one who's sending them out. Some of them are surmising that senior management is the actual culprit and they're taking it out on you. Either way, you're the bad guy.

Why are you sending this material several times a year?

Once annually is enough. Have an Intranet? Post it there and don't send it out at all.

Your user community thinks you're persecuting them. They're right, and that's why you got into trouble. You may be thinking this is a case of no good deed goes unpunished, but you forgot that there really can be too much of a good thing...and that makes it a bad thing.

Tone down the message by cracking back on the frequency. And figure out a quick way to make nice with your user community...good work is remembered for about a day, things like this are what grudges and vendettas are made from.

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Amcol's a little bit harsh but,

by mjwx In reply to You're NOT doing your job

He has a point. Your users probably feel like you?re on their back all the time. Once a year is plenty UNLESS your policies are routinely broken. IMO it?s very important to be strict but fair.

Remember as a sys admin, while you are a fascist you are not a Nazi. You?re more like a Gorbachev or Tito.

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An Alternative

by Ron-in-Miami, PMP In reply to You're NOT doing your job

Agree with AMCOL. People tend to take e-mail personally. Try a different communications approach. We have a system logon message (Message of the Day) and that is where we post short-term IT events of interest and ongoing reminders. It appears every time a user logs on. GIve it a try.

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by TonytheTiger In reply to Unfair Reprimand

We have some unresolved issues on the network in our building. Some of the symptoms include slow applications, lost network connections, phone calls breaking up (VOIP) and a few complained that their streaming audio was messing up. This only happened when someone was doing a mass move or copy to/from a server.

My supervisor wanted me to find out who was doing the copying and have them stop it or do it after hours. I got ripped for including the following in my reply:

I think we're overlooking something basic. The people who are copying files are most certainly doing so as part of their job duties. Before cutting down on people who are using the network bandwidth for work-related purposes, I would suggest looking into the non-work-related uses, such as internet radio, personal phone calls, etc., which also use network bandwidth. It's possible that if we cut down these items until we can resolve the underlying problem, that people who are trying to do their assigned work won't be unduly hampered.

I would hate to think that we are curtailing work processes to improve the quality of someone's personal phone call or internet radio broadcast.

Afterward I found out the reason for the reprimand... it was one of his buddies who complained that their internet radio station would occasionally get choppy.

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You forgot

by ltilley In reply to Unfair Reprimand

Your forgot to ask your manager what type of a @$$ chewing you weer going to get if your end users were not educated and really messed something up.

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Thanks for the replies

by MMarble In reply to Unfair Reprimand

I will no longer distribute the emails. The users receive the same information in their employee handbooks and new user packets when they first get hired. I only did it approximately every four months due to employee turn over and the fact that no one actually reads the employee handbooks and new user packets.

I just don't understand the notion that equipment provided to perform your job (especially equipment paid for with tax payer dollars) is for your personal use. We have employees that spend half the day surfing the internet, sending inappropriate emails, printing church bulletins and family photos and a one of them even ran online businesses from their cubicle. All on the taxpayer's dime. Previously those little reminders I sent out would dampen the activity for a few months, but this time they got mad as if I was the bad guy.

I wish I could say that it doesn't matter whether or not they abide by the rules, but as every IT pro knows, a few users with free reign can wreak havoc with your network. I guess I'm doomed to workdays spent putting out fires instead of administrating the network.

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Back up

by amcol In reply to Thanks for the replies

Now you're describing a different problem.

You're absolutely right that corporate equipment is provided for corporate use. Most organizations, public sector and private, have documented policies spelling out appropriate use of technology and equipment. Most of these allow what's called "limited personal use" as long as there's no material impact on either systems or cost. Those policies are typically rather specific, and everything you've cited your users are doing is clearly in violation of policy.

While most of the things you've cited are controllable, without usage policies and without e-mails to users every four months, a lot represents areas you really need not concern yourself with. Internet surfing is a sticky wicket...unless you're eyewitness to someone spending their entire day on Yahoo or a game site you really don't know if what they're doing is legitimate or not. I'm a good case in point...when I arrive in the morning I immediately access the Internet and check a couple of news sites. I leave them active but minimized all day and check them only once or twice. That's my job, but monitoring software makes it seem like I'm surfing all day long. The bottom line on this area is it's not your's a management problem. You have no dog in this fight.

What constitutes inappropriate e-mails? You have no way of knowing unless you're monitoring, and that's a waste of time. Printing church e-mails? If it's done once in a while, so what? If it's done all the time, where's the person's manager? Why is this your concern?

On the other can most certainly lock down access to a wide variety of websites, monitor phone usage to see who's calling Tanzania six hours a day, and any number of other legitimate governors on system usage.

Pick your fights wisely. Sounds to me like you're filled with a certain amount of righteous indignation at users who are abusing YOUR network, but for the most part it's not your problem...especially if management turns a blind eye to it.

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I agree on ..

by critch In reply to Back up

The most important lesson beat into my thick skull over the last 20 years was amcol's point

Pick your fights wisely.

Truer words were never spoken

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