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It Management Fail: Always Blame the Worker Bees - page 2

Four Silly Scenarios

  • January 18, 2011
  • By Carla Schroder

There isn't any excuse for Sally, though I can surely understand the impulse to plant a few boobytraps on your way out after your employer has burned you. The proposed solution? "...given the tense atmosphere created by the outsourcing decision, the company should have been more vigilant and more proactive in monitoring potentially angry employees...If you aren't already monitoring your IT people, now is the time to start. For best results, kick off the program with a very public pronouncement that you are now monitoring the staff." Nice, go straight for the jackboots. This was a Fortune 500 company. Which apparently means they're too incompetent to figure out a way to soften the blow, such as a generous severance package and assistance in finding a new job. Or something even more radical-- first consult with their IT staff to see if there is some way to keep the local staff and not outsource.

A Failure of Management

The article offers a smattering of good advice such as separation of privileges, separation of tasks (employees shouldn't monitor themselves, duh), not leaving admin passwords in the hands of a single person, having backups (rolleyes) and doing pre-hire background checks so as not to miss possible red flags such as criminal convictions and a lack of meaningful references. But otherwise it's mainly fearmongering, with "rogue" and "hostage" used a lot-- those evil geeks, you just can't trust them! -- than practical advice.

This myth of the anti-social difficult geek is just that-- a myth. The last thing we need is more perpetuation of the crazy notion that IT staff are strange aliens that can neither be understand nor managed like real people. IT people are just like any other professionals. Most are honest, skilled professionals with strong ethics. If you can't talk to your own staffers or potential hires, if they don't inspire confidence, if they can't explain what they're doing in terms an intelligent layperson can understand (I just know I'm going to get comments that this excludes most managers), if they're anti-social, difficult, and unaccountable, then why would you entrust your company to them?

All positions in any business require trust. If you can't trust your people then why are they there? That's same mentality that advises drinking out of the other side of the punchbowl when there's dog doo floating in it. There is no Big Brother solution, even though this is a popular management myth. There always needs to be some accountability, redundancy, and audit trails, that's just practical. More importantly, good managers are in tune with their people and keep them informed, keep them on track, get them the resources they need to do their jobs, protect them from the crazy whims from the suit suites, and listen to them and value their expertise. Nothing demoralizes as effectively as top-down bark-orders management that treats personnel like interchangeable widgets.

I am tired of worker bees taking the hits for crummy management. It makes me wonder why anyone would want to work in IT.

Carla Schroder is the author of the Linux Cookbook and the Linux Networking Cookbook (O'Reilly Media), the upcoming "Book of Audacity" (NoStarch Press), a lifelong book lover, and the managing editor of Linux Planet and Linux Today.

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