By Douglas Chick
Like most computer people, walking from my desk to the lunchroom is like being behind enemy lines and trying to get back without being captured. Every doorway has a potential hazard, or end-user demanding that you stop what you are doing immediately and help them. I know a Network Admin, Rich, that when someone stopped him in the hallway or restroom and demanded that he stop what he's doing to help them. He would smile, stick his finger in his mouth, (saturating it with saliva.) and then proceed to stick it in their ear. An untrained end-user is a dangerous one.
Should network administrators help end-users? No, but we do, it’s almost impossible to have a job in computers without having to interact in some way with them. Not everyone shares this view; some computer people enjoy this type of “people” interactions. Most don’t however. But whatever your disposition, ultimately it gets to you, and you have to find a way to deal with it.
Computer people (CP) love working with computers, that’s what we do. If we could work with computers exclusively and not have to interact with people, we might even do it for a reduce fee. It’s this human interference that prompts the high salaries. But of course, you already know this. To avoid certain conflict between yourself and your end-users, it’s important that you properly train them. An untrained computer user is a dangerous computer user. But how do you train an end-user?
Here is an example.
You have been working for hours trying to configure your cell phone to shutdown your server room in the event that you are unexpectedly fired. You look over the top of your shoes that are propped onto the corner of your desk to see one of your users standing in your doorway with a puzzled look.
“How do you color the fonts in Publisher to look like a rainbow?”
You answer; “I’m sorry, I don’t know?”
They say; “What do you mean, you don’t know? You’re IT.” ”
Immediately, and foolishly you try to explain that you work with servers and routers and databases and you don’t really use programs like publisher. Unfortunately your words only confuse the user even further and he insults you forcing you to retaliate by tampering with his time clock info, making it look like he’s cheating on his hours. He gets fired faster than Bilbo’s brother! (Who’s Bilbo’s brother—just shut-up and read the article!)
Why should you waste time accessing the Time Clock computer when you could have been downloading MP3s? Would a trained computer user waste their time coming to you and asking about fonts—I say no! If you could have used this moment as an opportunity, instead a hostile exchange of words, how would you have done it? Watch me below as I re-approach this situation.
"How do you color the fonts in Publisher to look like a rainbow?"
"Well, I'm glad someone around this place has the intelligence to realize that fonts can be changed into rainbows. God bless you."
For a moment at least, Bob the end-user is pleased that someone from the IT department thinks he is intelligent and will pause in his own brilliance while you've bought enough time to think up the correct curriculum to educate him.
"Well," says Bob. "I only took this job because I'm really working on getting my degree in Communications."
"That's just great, Bob." you reply with all the sincerity you can muster without offending his lineage. And before he has time to say anything else, you hit him hard with Acronyms.
"Bob, because I know you're a lot smarter than the rest of the people in your department, I'm not going to waste time using "idiot grammar". Idiot Grammar Bob, is the language we computer people use to explain things to end-users."
Already you see Bob getting nervous.
"The very first thing that you have to do Bob is to wipe that stupid smile off your face. There's no one around us and we don't have to pretend that we're stupid." And then give Bob a reassuring smile, and maybe a wink. "
"Now, to solve your rainbow font issue the first thing we need to do is get to a marker board. I'm sorry, I mean a MRKBRD. Next we'll need a MRK. You know what MRK means, right?"
"A marker?" Bob replies with a tone of uncertainty."
"God Damn it, Bob! That's exactly correct. A God Damned marker. Have you ever thought about abandoning that Communications Degree and considering coming over to the IT field?"
"I should really be getting back to my cubical now, Doug."
"Nonsense, Bob. We're gonna ride this baby home." Firmly take hold of Bob's arm and pull him close.
"Next we'll need a TCP, NCP, ARP, PPP, a NRACP, a bucket of mad bee's, a half pound of lubricant and a flatullating monkey. A normal monkey will do but you're going to have to get it drunk. A bucket of honey and a 9 pound ping hammer."
"Where you going, Bob?"
"Never mind, Doug. Come to think of it. The font color I'm using will work fine."
This is just one example of how to train a computer end-user. I bet if you think about it, there are other ways to be just as affective.
Cheer for now