5 dysfunctional IT relationships -- and how to repair them

Sys admins are from Mars, developers are from Venus, and legal is from hell -- here's how to heal friction among IT factions

But think about it from the admin's point of view. GFI Software recently surveyed more than 200 U.S. sys admins. The results: 85% said their personal lives were negatively affected by their jobs, and more than two-thirds have considered switching careers because of the stress involved. Every day, they have to deal with clueless users (not you, of course) who ask them to do ridiculous things.

"An overwhelming number of IT administrators said they've received support calls from users who are apparently unaware that computers don't operate without power," notes Dodi Glenn, product manager for GFI Software, which provides IT solutions for small businesses. "To cite just one example, a frustrated admin told us that a user had plugged a power strip 'into itself' and couldn't figure out why his computer wasn't powering up."

While writing your network password on a sticky note affixed to your monitor may keep you from forgetting it or deliberately downloading malware just to "see what will happen" may satisfy your curiosity, these things will drive IT admins insane.

IT people can't really change how users are going to behave, says Dev Anand, director of product management for ManageEngine, which builds real-time tools for automating IT management. But they can change how they respond to it.

To avoid having to answer the same stupid questions (over and over and over), IT departments can crowd-source solutions by setting up community portals or a page on their internal social network where employees can post questions for other users to answer, says Anand. IT can anonymously post the really dumb ones, Dev suggests, so people will eventually learn to never ask that question again.

In an era where cloud-based IT managed services are just a phone call away, internal admins must learn how to be more flexible and responsive to users' needs, says ManageEngine president Raj Sabhlok.

"These guys have to learn that no is not always the right answer," he says. "Business users move at a faster pace than many admins are used to, so IT pros need to automate mundane tasks and start using real-time technology if they want to keep up."

In the end, though, what both sides need to do is be nicer to each other, notes GFI's Glenn.

"IT staff should have the right to hold users accountable when they make preventable mistakes due to carelessness or neglect, and users should have the right to ask IT admins questions without being made to feel stupid or annoying," he says. "The bottom line is this: Both sides need to treat each other with courtesy and respect."

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This story, "5 dysfunctional IT relationships -- and how to repair them" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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