04 August 2008

5 Advantages Of Being Nice To IT (And How To Do It)

Be always nice to the IT guys. You can be rude to the Sales and Marketing people. In fact, they might even like you for it. But don't ever risk getting on the bad side of the Geeks.

How to be nice to the IT guys

  1. Before asking for help, take a moment to admire the disassembled monstrosity lying around somewhere. Ask what it is and show interest.
  2. From time to time, start a conversation with "I don't really know anything about IT..." and then say something most users wouldn't know. For example "Should I activate the BIOS password? You know, in case my laptop gets stolen?" Or "I noticed that you don't broadcast the SSID on our WIFI network. Do you recommend that I do this at home?"
  3. Once you've established an informal relationship, you may call them jokingly geeks (but never ever use the work "nerd"!).
  4. When they tell you that they will try to take care of your problem if and when they have a minute, say that you know they're incredibly busy and appreciate their help (instead of bitching and making threats like everybody else).
  5. And most important: If required, always open a ticket instead of (or before) barging into their office.
Advantages of being nice to the geeks
(no guarantees here, but it worked a couple of times for me)
  1. Your problems will be solved in less than 30 minutes while others wait 2 weeks with the same problem.
  2. They will let you beta-test cool new software.
  3. You will get additional RAM or a second screen.
  4. You will get admin rights to your machine. Or was it just the trainee who messed up this one time ;-)
  5. When you ask for a new keyboard they won't tell you to open a ticket but will walk over to the shelf and hand you their best piece.
If your ticket gets ignored send reminders until the problem is solved. They don't mind being reminded as long as you're polite and don't contact them several times a day. This doesn't help if you have an ultra urgent problem, but it will pay off in the long run.

And if your IT guy asks you: I never said any of this!


perrik said...

Speaking as a former IT gal before I somehow morphed into an HR drone...

#1: Hardware projects and piles of spare computer bits look alarmingly similar. Don't worry about admiring it - just DON'T TOUCH IT!

#2: No. Do not pretend you know intermediate or advanced concepts unless you actually do know what you're talking about. If you do, great, ask intelligent questions and listen to the answers.

Otherwise, I agree and will add a couple more tips:

#6: Be honest. Did you delete random system files, just to see what happened? Did you spill coffee on the keyboard? Was it black or was it loaded with cream and sugar? Did you click the wrong button and now your data seems to have disappeared? DON'T LIE about what you did. That makes it much harder to diagnose and fix the problem! If you accidently stab your hand with a chef's knife, you wouldn't say to the doctor, "golly, I don't know what happened, my hand just started gushing blood all of a sudden."

#7: Don't assume that whatever the IT person did or might have done previously has caused your current problem. "Last time I saw you, you gave me a tetanus shot. And now my hand is gushing blood. Is it because of the shot?" Yeah, that sounds really stupid, but I've heard stupider attempts to blame the current problem on something the IT person did days or even months before.

So be nice, be polite, respect their time, and if you did something daft just confess to it.

Anonymous said...

Working in IT, I can give you some additional hints ...

1) admit you did something to your PC that caused all the issues you have (even if it's not true). We are much more willing to help if you admit freely it that you broke it ;-)
2) Bring gadgets or chocolate to convince us to work on the issue. If you come with, for example, a shiny new mug we cannot avoid helping you immediately

HR Minion said...

It pays off in other ways too. Geek Humor is some of the best humor around. And if you ever have to staff for IT positions, it's good to utilize their connections.

Happy Employee said...

Thank you for your additions. This is exactly how I learned the most from IT people: Tease them and when they start talking just shut up and listen ;-)

And you're absolutely right about #2. I don't know how many times I saw IT supporters roll their eyes in frustration because a user thought he knew better (and even I realized that he had no clue).

@Lil' World
Do you want a I Love HR Mug? Just say the word!

I've always had a great time staffing for IT. Much more fun talking about a server than about GAAP ;-)

Rachel - former HR blogger said...

1. Be specific when describing the problem. "My computer doesn't work" is not specific.

2. At least attempt to troubleshoot before you call IT. Seems like at my workplace people will call all the time with problems like:
- The fax machine won't work. It ended up not having paper.
- The phone won't work. The cord is not plugged in.

Happy Employee said...

Your recommendations could very easily be adapted to HR, like "something's wrong with my payslip, but now that I have you on the phone, I can't remember what it was. Just correct it."