R-E-S-P-E-C-T

If only all IT-user interactions could go like this.

We’ve all wished we could dress down the arrogant users who try to make IT professionals jump to do their bidding, even when they’re asking the impossible — to do it without getting fired, that is. Unfortunately, when a generally acknowledged loss center (IT) comes up against the revenue generators (just about everyone else), we know who is going to get top management’s backing.

But one fish has a story about holding your ground and winning. It reads like fantasy, but he swears it’s true.

The IT department has bent over backwards for years to accommodate older sales reps who can only be described as luddites. They see technology as a hindrance and IT workers as obstacles to their progress, to be berated and abused.

But when new leadership is installed, it has a different take on the dynamic and gives IT permission to lay down the law with the problem children. The first interaction of the new era goes like this:

Fish: IT. How can I help you?

Sales rep: This is Barney Hatestek. I can’t get logged into my laptop. It says my password is expired.

Fish: (Knowing Barney works out of his house far from the nearest corporate-owned location.) I’m afraid I have some bad news. The only way to reset your password is to physically connect your laptop to the corporate network using a network cable. You will need to drive to the nearest corporate facility.

Sales rep: But that’s over two hours away. I have too much work to do to waste time driving. You need to do something.

Fish: It’s expired on the laptop. The only way to fix it now is to plug into the corporate network. We can’t magically connect to your laptop from here. 

Sales rep: Stop with the technical gobbledygook and just fix it.

Fish: I know you’ve been getting daily warning emails for two weeks saying when your password was going to expire and how to change it. I also know these emails warned you that allowing the password to expire would require a hardwire connection to the corporate network. I know you’ve been getting reminder pop-ups every time you logged into your laptop and the VPN and anything else that used your corporate credentials. And I know that the mandatory annual training you received on using a laptop warned about not letting your password expire.

Sales rep: I was too busy making the company money to mess with it.

Fish: Changing your password takes less than a minute. 

Sales rep: Just fix it. I’m your customer and that’s what I expect.

Fish: Not possible. Your only option is to take the laptop to the corporate facility and plug into the network. Best you get started. It’s already past noon. 

Sales rep: This is unacceptable. I’ve been with the company for over 20 years. My VP is going to hear about how unhelpful you’ve been.

The sales rep must have been true to his word, but so was the new leadership. The next day fish received a short apology email from Barney, cc’ed to the rep’s VP and fish’s VP.

Feed the Shark! Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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