Readers react to 'what users hate about IT pros'

Okay, now it's your turn.

The article entitled "What users hate about IT pros" that was published in Network World on July 17 (Computerworld's sister publication in the US) generated quite a bit of response, particularly to complaints it aired from end users that IT managers speak in jargon, fail to spend enough time with users in trouble, or don't sufficiently explain technology.

Many of you asked why we didn't publish an article listing the complaints IT managers have about their end users. Well, we did; back in February two of my colleagues published "They've heard 'em all; IT pros recount their favorite tales of clueless users."

But based on the responses I got to the July article, I'm guessing that story just scratched the surface, so below are excerpts from readers responding to my article.

One reader had three choice words in response to end-user complaints: "Wahhh, wahhh, wahhh," says Matthew Simpson, manager of e-commerce and Internet at a global shipping company. "Get over it, and just realize that there are three people in your universe you don't want to annoy, no matter how annoying and even incompetent they may be: 1. The payroll clerk; 2. The cafeteria lady; 3. The computer guy."

In responding to one user's complaint that IT managers tend not to stay at the employee's desk long enough to ensure a fix that was just applied actually works, another reader pointed out a problem that most IT departments face; too many helpdesk calls, not enough time.

"We have to be superhuman -- we have to know our jobs, and some of the customer's jobs as well. Superman doesn't stay around for afternoon tea," says the reader, who asked not to be named. "We don't normally have the luxury to ask how your cat is doing -- as someone else is waiting for our help."

The reader suggests end users should spend a little more time with their IT department to understand them better. "A little respect on both sides is in order. Ask an IT person to lunch sometime -- it won't kill you. Maybe you'll see how often he/she gets lunch interrupted over some nonsense ticket from a VP."

Another reader points out the painfully obvious fact that many technology problems really aren't the IT department's fault.

"If I had a nickel for every time I've had a user say 'Well THAT'S dumb!' because of some 'feature' in a piece of software, I could retire," says Ray Tracy with a medical imaging technology outsourcer. "Then I wouldn't have to listen to their demands that I change the way some software works. My insistence that I didn't write the code falls on deaf ears."

But not every response to the article put the blame of this often contentious end-user/IT-manager relationship on the other side. One reader suggests practicing some basic psychology tactics with users will make everyone's job easier.

"Users who have limited knowledge of PCs may be combative and frustrated. They may just want to vent a little, and you learn to let them have their say," says Paul Hickox. "IT people need to remember that the end user, in one form or another, pays the bills. Being helpful makes the work environment better for everyone concerned. I know how my paycheck is filled, and it is not by being mean to the users."

It just so happened on the morning that my article was published I had my own awkward moment with the IT department. I was on the phone with Network World's Director of Network IT Rocco Bortone, and while he was troubleshooting my VPN connection, he said to me "So, Cara, what do you hate about IT pros?" I gulped. "Er, nothing, you guys are great!"

Everyone knows you don't mess with a guy named Rocco.

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