Why you and your I.T. person don’t like each other:

As an Information Technology professional that has worked in the industry for more than 20 years, I have been fortunate to have worked with amazingly good technical people who’s skills in solving technical problems seemed magical. I have also been surrounded by thousands of customers that were level headed, reasonable and knew succinctly what their technical needs were. Unfortunately, it tends to be where these two types of people meet, which they eventually must, that seems the most puzzling. Frequently these two groups come together and meet in a place where both I.T. people and end users walk away frustrated from the experience.

How does a person with the knowledge and willingness to help, and a person who needs the help and communicates their needs effectively come together and end up feeling often worse from the experience, even if the problem gets fixed? The problem often is found in the willingness to help from the I.T. person, and more specifically the communication style technical people generally use. When an end user asks, say, to get the network fixed for their computer, or their data migrated from their old computer to a new one, or to trouble shoot slowdowns on their system or the networks, they are simply interested in getting the problem fixed and going on with their workday. Their interest usually stops at just making it work.

By contrast a technical professional, while being interested in solving the problem, is also interested in ensuring it does not come back and giving the end user options to accomplish this. Explaining the 6 upgrades available to the end user for a faster computer feels to the technical person as giving them options and letting them decide a better path, to the end user its time consuming and sounds like showing off. As the end user expresses frustration with this process, the support person becomes angry that their help seems unwanted.

The end product of this interaction is a frustrating experience on both sides and ensured continued tensions between I.T. and end users.

To bypass this frustrating experience, as an end user understand your technical support people better by being patient regarding the support provided and understanding that the technical people in your life are truly their to support you. They are attempting to provide options and solutions in a method that includes you and they view this as sharing information, not showing off. As a technical person, learn to read your audience better and understand when time constraints are critical. Know that the frustration your sensing from the end user is an indicator that you should address and condense additional solutions in an email or to a later discussion.

Lastly, as a manager of I.T. people, I recommend constant information and metrics gathering to ensure this communication is not undermining your support services. From a management point of view this tension unchecked and not addressed at both levels leads to a long-term negative view of the capabilities of very talented people. Simple call backs from management to a percentage of end users should give you a feel for the communication that is happening away from your office, as well as reviewing support requests and outcomes with information from both sides. Write me back to suggest other metrics that you have found useful.

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