Stories from my Past: You sometimes have to lose to win

Stories from my Past: You sometimes have to lose to win

One day I was leaving the grocery store and happened to run into a former co-worker. It was from a job that I had been downsized from along with hundreds of other workers. As I was talking to her she was sharing how things had gotten worse, and more people had been downsized. It was a terrible environment, and getting worse, just like when I was there.

I listened to her and I could tell she was disappointed with her job. I asked how long she was going to stay and she said that she needed the health benefits for her son. She said she would probably stay until they let her go. It was sad to see this talented and dedicated person feel that her efforts were useless. I shared how I was very happy in the job I was in, and that I didn’t miss being there at all.

I could tell that she was a little jealous that I was somewhere where I was respected and also happy for me. Since I had groceries and we had talked for some time I said my goodbyes and let her shop as well. I thought that once again it was difficult to leave a paycheck, but I found a better place where I was paid the same and treated with respect. Sometimes you have to lose to win.

The 5 biggest mistakes computer users make

So to finish the series I am sharing what I have noticed is the 5 biggest mistakes computer users make. Find out what IT people do wrong, and what management does wrong.

  1. Not asking for help appropriately. This not only includes not asking late, but asking too soon, and not asking in a way that can help themselves. When people ask too soon for IT help they often find that they know the answer, or when the IT person gets back to them it has become a non-issue. This wastes time for everyone. When they ask too late, they waste their time and usually other people who are waiting on them, and this causes unnecessary frustration. A good rule of thumb would be “How long will it take to solve this computer problem, vs. asking a computer person to help me?” For most people, and given reasonably skilled IT staff, normally 90% of you should ask an IT person. There are always people who are experts with computers, and only really need IT people when it is a complex problem. Most people tend to be shy about asking for help, and instead just forget about doing that part, or try to use some kind of complicated work-around. It is funny how often people have pride in asking for help with computer things, when if they were open to being educated they could do things much easier.
  2. Using a broken computer or system. It is certainty true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease in life. People who give feedback and point out the faults in the system are normally appreciated by most IT departments. Then IT people can correct them, or find a way to work around the issue. This seems to be related to people’s fear of job security. I have noticed that employees who feel they are valued and important will willingly give feedback on broken computers/systems, and those who aren’t job secure are shy to bring up issues. It is unfortunate that broken computers/systems exist, but too often there is not enough time/budget to manage all of the technology that a company uses. Effective IT depends on the cooperation of the people who use the systems to also point out and bring to the attention of the IT staff things that are wrong so they can be fixed. Yes it is the IT staffs job to manage this, but there are always things that slip through the cracks and help is always appreciated by wise IT staff.
  3. Breaking the rules of the business/IT staff. It may be hard to accept, but the rules you might have been told for computer usage are for your benefit. Yes at times they are wrong, arbitrary or politically motivated, but they are for a purpose. The IT staff often disagree with the rules, but we are asked to enforce them. The rules exist because this is not your home computer and you don’t have the right to treat it as such. A computer is a tool, and when someone seeks to use the tool in ways that it wasn’t designed to be used, it almost always causes problems. For example, in some business people have the ability to add software to their computer. In almost every business I have been in, people who have this right almost always mess up their machines. Then they are without their machines, causing them loss productivity and costing the business money, and the IT staff has to start from scratch. It is tremendously costly to treat a computer as a personal machine for a business.
  4. Handling their computer roughly. People who have laptops are especially prone to abusing their computers. It is abuse to put a computer in a freezing or direct sunlight environment. Computers like the same temperature people do. It is abuse when people slam their computers around, or take out their abuse on their equipment. I see it very common in businesses that things like mice, keyboards are abused in all manner of ways. Accidents will always happen, but there is very little that people do to take reasonable steps to prevent accidents. For example my water bottle is in a special sealed container that is waterproof. In addition it is away from my computer. There is no chance that my laptop will ever get wet. Yet you see people who put their coffee and other things next to their keyboard or laptop without a second thought. Computers while they are cheaper than ever, still cost a business money and it is the responsibility of the worker to safeguard the tools they have been trusted with. Yes a business will buy a new one, but the hit in your reputation isn’t worth it. When it comes time for a raise, I have seen this be used as part of a review to deny a raise.
  5. Doing illegal things with their computer. I have worked at places where coworkers asked me to help them watch porn. That was a little interesting since it was a female coworker who asked. Other coworkers at other places have asked why isn’t their illegal movie file working, or why their computer acts funny after they installed a hacked program. Almost universally, if someone has done illegal activity on their computer it causes problems. So then it becomes a delicate conversation that in some companies require HR to become involved. Different companies have different tolerances for illegal behavior. Most companies will warn their users on the first offense, and then refer them to HR if it’s a second offence. It is unfortunate that where I have worked people have downloaded music, videos and programs that makes the company liable for copyright infringement. I personally have had to have discussions with people telling them that what they are doing is illegal and that if the continue to do it, there are legal consequences that can affect the company as well. When I have had these discussions 100% of people stop doing what they are doing, but it is an uncomfortable conversation to have. Please don’t put your IT staff in this position.