What is the one co-worker that everybody always has to deal with, but no one really understands what she or he is doing? Yup, the IT Support Specialist. Well, not every single person deals with IT on a daily basis, but most have had to call an IT support person for help at least once in their life.
“IT Support, how may I help you?”
“Well, my computer won’t start up”
“Is it plugged in?”
“Yes, of course it is, do you think I’m stupid.”
“No of course not, it’s just something we always check first … When did you first discover that it wouldn’t start?”
“When I came in this morning. It’s just a blank screen and nothing is lit up.”
“Can you check at the back of the computer to see if everything is plugged in?”
“Sure, let me check … yes, everything is firmly plugged in.”
“Ok, thank you. Can you also check …”
… 20 minutes later …
“I don’t understand why you can’t help me!? You’re supposed to be the expert. Some expert you are!”
“Yes, I understand that this is frustrating for you. It’s a tough problem. Perhaps the plug to the electricity outlet is not working correctly. Can you unplug it an plug it in again?”
… long silence …
“Uhm, the computer was not plugged in at all.”
“Ah, well there you go. Problem solved. Anything else I can do for you?”
“No, thank you. Just wished you would have solved this sooner.”
“Ahum, yes I understand. Thank you for your feedback. Enjoy the rest of your day.”
Really, this is not an unusual scenario for an IT person. Someone calls for IT support and in the end, when the problem apparently lies with the end-user, they still blame IT for not fixing it right away. You would think that this would make the end-user a bit more humble and luckily it sometimes does. But oftentimes it actually has the reverse effect and creates resentfulness in the computer illiterate individual.
I think this has to do with the fact that IT comes with a lot of stuff that us mere mortals often do not understand, but we still have an option about it as we do about everything else in life. It’s easier when we are talking about marketing, sales, dealing with difficult customers, etc. All of us can speak more or less intelligently about these topics, even if we are not experts. But IT is a different beast altogether. You actually need thorough training and certifications to understand what goes on under a desktop’s hood.
I think fear comes into play as well here. In general we as human beings fear things we do not understand. And it is those things, that make us less tolerant. In the end we do not need to understand everything and the trick is to just accept that. Let the IT specialist do her or his work and you will see everything will fall into place.
I see IT support more as the psychologists of our computers which in many aspects are the extensions of our brains. How suitable is this comparison! An IT Specialist diagnoses the problem, has a conversation with you to get to the core of the issue, determines a treatment plan, applies interventions, evaluates results, and closes the case — just like a real psychologist!
As a matter of fact, surly treatment of IT staff does not stand in isolation. We see the same thing happening with co-workers from the finance, security, custodial, and other support departments. Perhaps for other reasons than in the case with the IT team, but I see it all around me.
A couple of things we can do about it: 1) before calling IT, restart your PC to see if that resolves the problem; 2) listen instead of always coming with your opinion first; 3) trust in their expertise and try to comply to their instructions; 4) greet your IT Support Specialist, when you come in in the morning — cordiality goes a long way; 5) tell them from time to time what a great job they did.
This year, April 22 is designated as National Secretary’s Day. Perhaps we can dedicate the next day, April 23 to honor our IT Support staff.