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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Perception is a Powerful Force

As I have mentioned before, I work in I.T.

One problem that nearly EVERY I.T. department has in nearly EVERY organization is the public opinion of the other employees being weighted against the I.T. department.

While being something I do not understand it is something I MUST deal with.

Today there was a meeting in which the person who (for all intents and purposes) is my boss, his boss and another department head. I was NOT invited to this meeting. This meeting was to discuss problems with technology support in the other department head's facility. The problems discussed, so I was later informed, were not new but just a re-hashing of problems already discussed (to me this means that the department head is still not happy that he did not get his way after earlier discussions).

One of the things that came up was that no one knows what I.T. workers actually DO. All that they see is when things do NOT work. All that they see are the things that haven't been done yet. All that they see is that something on their computer broke and no one has helped them fix it yet. This is a problem with ANY organization that has an internal I.T. department. Unless the department is OVERstaffed there will be people who have to wait for service to be completed (in my experience if there is an abundance of help then users become lazier and lazier about trying ANYTHING for themselves so the problem actually does not go away with more staffing).
One comment that was made by an anonymous someone (e.g. neither I, nor my defacto boss know whom) was that I, apparently, did nothing over the summer except shoot my bow (I am an archer) all day long. This infuriates me. Yes, I shot my bow (the fitness and recreation department here has archery equipment). Yes I shot it nearly daily. I shot between 44 and 55 rounds with it (I only have 11 arrows). The total time I spent doing archery on days with good weather: 45 minutes. The total time I spent on a lunch break: 45 minutes.  If I take a break from work and do something CONSTRUCTIVE with my time (e.g. archery is good strength exercise AND a skill to boost hand - eye coordination) then that is my decision.

What people NEVER manage to see are the other aspects of their I.T. departments.
For example: today I arrived at work at 7:45 AM. I am writing this as an automated task is finishing up (can't leave until it is done, but too late to start anything new) at 6:30 pm. I took a half-hour lunch break where I discussed the aforementioned meeting with my defacto boss. That's a 10 hour and 45 minute work day. No one notices when I, or any of my staff put in 10 hours of (unpaid) overtime a week for three consecutive weeks to get a project done. No one understands or accepts that, perhaps, it is not the I.T. guys who had the problem when a project is not finished on time... but that it MIGHT be further up the chain (e.g. I recently had 7.5 person-weeks of work dumped on me with no warning that, had a decision been made in June, would have been 1 person-week of work).

Everyone is so quick to blame the I.T. staff when decisions regarding usage don;t go their way or when decisions regarding policy are too constrictive. I understand this; what I fail to understand is why they are so forgiving with every other department. Why is the I.T. department the one that is heavily persecuted while all of the others are forgiven so easily? Why is the most over-worked department the one that gets the least leniency?

One of the most lenient and forgiving people at my employer was frustrated with the I.T. staff until he moonlighted with us for a few weeks. He was startled and amazed at the logistics we have to run and the sheer volume of work that we have to complete to make ANYONE happy.  Seeing that experience makes me wish I could require ALL complaintive users to work as one of my employees for one week in our busiest month.

If you are reading this and have a computer issue at work please consider how busy your I.T. staff are. They probably work A LOT harder than you could imagine.

It makes me sad to post this post. I REALLY did not want to turn this blog into a complaint forum.
Sadly, for the month of September I can expect total chaos and excessive stress about work. It's just the way my job goes.


  1. AMEN to that!

    I know exactly what you mean. Some days I am convinced that everyone thinks the IT folks sit around playing games all day. They never see what we do, it's all behind the scenes. Or in the middle of the night. Or on the weekend. Or on 2 PC's and 3 screens, running 3-4 applications, a script and a troubleshooting chat window and a phone call all at once.

    You need to be talented and a multi-tasker to work in IT. That is how we can also read a blog while we are working. :)

  2. It's funny you say "everyone thinks the IT folks sit around playing games all day" because I was telling someone about a teacher in my first district who actually accused me of that exact thing in a general faculty meeting that I was not even present at.