The Unix sysadmin's guide to getting along with co-workers

You might be the sole Unix geek at work or one among many, but there are things we can all do to develop and maintain better relationships with the people lucky enough to work with us.

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One of the worst case scenarios to handle is when someone you might feel is far less skilled and much less deserving than you becomes your boss or gets the promotion you've been expecting. Be as honest as you can when assessing what you may have lost in the process and what you still have. Watch out for "the grass is greener" (that job is infinitely better than the one you’re in) and "sour grapes" (you didn't get it, therefore, it must have been a sucky job anyway) reactions.

Frequently ask for feedback from your boss, your "customers" -- those people that you provide services to -- whether they're across the hall or halfway around the world, and your coworkers. Take criticism in stride, especially if it's fair and is being dished out by someone who seems to be looking after your well being (it's not always possible to tell). Keep Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" playing in the back of your mind, but keep the volume down.

Speaking of volume, work quietly. Don't be one of those people who makes as much noise as everyone else combined. No one needs to hear you dialing your phone. I keep a pair of 30 dB ear muffs in my office that I put on when the noise from nearby offices is just too distracting or annoying. I also have a headset with a microphone that I can use for conference calls when the sound can be streamed through my computer -- saving my coworkers from having to listen to hours of me participating in Unix and security discussions.

Do your fair share of the work on every project you work on. At work as well as in life, I have always tried to do my fair share and then some. Having a good work ethic won't always protect you from unfairness at work, but you will at least know that you deserved to be treated better -- and that's a lot.

As was drilled into me since early childhood, "give credit where credit is due". Even when you're feeling neglected and ignored (maybe especially when you're feeling that way), take the time to acknowledge your coworkers' contributions -- whether their successes are independent of your work or are part of your success. "I wouldn't have been able to do this without ..." may go a long way toward helping someone else who might be feeling overworked or underappreciated.

Be serious about every assignment that is given to you, whether it's a big deal project or boring repetitious work. Do a good job with everything you do and share the skills that you pick up whenever it's appropriate to do so. A couple decades ago, I found myself trying to protect my "turf", but soon realized that, more than protecting my job, I was digging myself into a hole. When you share what you learn, not only are the other people who work with you better off for what you've taught them, but you are free to take on other responsibilities as they arise because you're not the only one who can do the work on your current tasks.

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123RF Stock Photo / lovleah

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