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Dealing With an IT Bully 521

jammag writes "'"You are an idiot." That was how I was greeted on an already gloomy, rainy Monday morning.' Eric Spiegel offer his a first-hand account of dealing with a tech world geek-gone-bad and presents some ideas for coping. 'These bullies are quick to aggressively divert blame for any problem back to someone else, because they couldn't possibly be responsible. Some are passive aggressive, where they will subtly lay blame behind your back. Others enjoy getting in your face and being as confrontational as possible.'" What experiences have others had that defied all logic and possibly made you want to start looking for rifles and bell towers?
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Dealing With an IT Bully

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  • Slashdot ID... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ccguy ( 1116865 ) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:19PM (#23069644) Homepage

    Second, you may be able to win a bully's respect by showing off your knowledge on a tough IT topic.
    Dude, that greeting line is typical for a slashdot user whose user ID is between 10,000 and 50,000 (ask any decent HR department if you don't believe me).

    Had you mentioned it, you would have made a friend forever (at the risk of becoming someone's best and only friend, though).

    BTW: "You are an idiot." may sound like an insult, but from time to time it's just an accurate diagnosis :-)
    • by Venture37 ( 654305 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:22PM (#23069700) Homepage

      BTW: "You are an idiot." may sound like an insult, but from time to time it's just an accurate diagnosis :-)
      Totally, the world is obsessed by the war on terror, when is the war on stupidity going to start?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:25PM (#23069752)
        A War on Stupidity will be as effective as the War on Drugs. You can't combat something that grows naturally.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Yeah, but if the neocons can be persuaded to start a war on stupidity, they'll not only bring the troops home to fight, but they'll be shooting a big chunk of their own supporters in the process. Just a thought :)
      • by illumnatLA ( 820383 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @09:51PM (#23072536) Homepage

        Totally, the world is obsessed by the war on terror, when is the war on stupidity going to start?
        The war on stupidity is over... Stupidity won.
    • by jefftp ( 35835 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @06:06PM (#23070404)
      I do not typically use "You are an idiot" as a greeting. I prefer to use that phrase as a goodbye.
      • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @07:03PM (#23071080) Homepage Journal
        I like when people use the written form to tell me "Your an idiot". It opens all kinds of doors for me to creatively respond.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @09:23PM (#23072320) Homepage
        Best solution for the "your an idiot" wielding jerk.

        Go to any open terminal and try to log in as him 4 times. do this throughout the day randomly. you'll keep locking out his account and giving him utter hell trying to get anything done.

        I'm the master Domain admin so I'll simply reduce privileges, accidently set the expire on the account to 15 minutes before lunch or a meeting, or I'll simply slightly unplug their cube's patch cable in the network closet on that floor. But if you dont have admin rights to the domain, simply trying to log in as them a few times will lock it nice and easy. also unplugging their keyboard slightly when you walk by their empty cube is a great thing to do as well.

        the best thing I have EVER seen done was that someone packing taped a slice of bologna under his chair. in 3 days he stunk to high hell and could not find the source of the smell.

        Dont get mad, get even. Nothing is sweeter than annoying them silently.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Courageous ( 228506 )
          Best solution for the "your an idiot" wielding jerk.

          Interesting approach. Me, he tries that, and he'll be sitting in front of several parties from HR explaining how it will Never. Happen. Again. This, after getting a little remark in his record, you know.

          Rude insulting behavior at work?

          Mmmmmm. No way, mon.

        • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:15PM (#23072716) Journal
          My favorite: a couple co-workers wrote a dos background program that prevented a user from typing the word "go". Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but the targeted coworker had written a complex batch script that compiled the source and loaded it on his dev machine named -- go.bat. It was pretty funny to watch. The g key works, the o key works but typing g then o was impossible. they also wrote a program that caused icons to flee from the mouse. That was just as fun, but easier to figure out the cause.
        • Hi Simon... (Score:4, Funny)

          by Builder ( 103701 ) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @02:36AM (#23074322)
          Hi Simon,

          Good to see you're well.

          Just thought I'd remind you that it's bad form to advise the lusers how to turn into a PFY or worse, a BOFH - we wouldn't want to have to break out the cattle prod again now, would we ?
    • Re:Slashdot ID... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @06:21PM (#23070596)
      BTW: "You are an idiot." may sound like an insult, but from time to time it's just an accurate diagnosis :-)

      True, but in a work place environment its usually best to be more tactful. Even if you're CEO of the company yelling at the janitor, dressing someone down is generally bad for moral and in cases where you are the janitor calling the CEO the idiot, you'll loose your job.

      If the IT person calls you an idiot, I'd bring it up with his supervisor as bad interpersonal skills.

      If he had felt he was dealing with an idiot the best approach would be to say "The issue is too complex for a short explanation, do you have about an hour to spare or do you need to get back up and running ASAP?"
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cavemanf16 ( 303184 )

        ... you'll loose your job. ...

        OK, you're either British or a /. noob. This incorrect use of the word "loose" when it should be "lose" just drives me freakin' crazy. Can we all agree to just turn it into "luse" as the past-tense verb form of "to lose"? This new spelling would be totally 1337 (yes, I'm "old"!) for all the new little kiddies on the interweb tubes. Heck, we could probably even get it admitted as the new form of spelling to Webster's Dictionary.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cHiphead ( 17854 )
      You, sir, are an idiot.

      Can't let the people down, now can we. ;)
      • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd.bandrowsky@gma i l .com> on Monday April 14, 2008 @09:17PM (#23072270) Homepage Journal
        You, sir, are an idiot.

        Can't let the people down, now can we. ;)

        moron... obviously, you are just a shill for [republicans|democrats], completely dedicated to [closed source|open source] software to the exclusion of all facts, maniacally intolerant because of your blind devotion to [environmentalism|christianity], unable to see that your ridiculous faith in [capitalism|socialism] is the ruin of all humanity, therefor making you a [jack booted fascist nazi|klan member|islamofascist traitor].
    • Re:Slashdot ID... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) * on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @07:13AM (#23075372) Homepage
      It is an insult. It may be true, but it's still an insult. There's no real need for it. The best managers I've had have taken staff they have a problem with and told them the issues, and focused on the problem.

      In fact, only a poor manager with insecurity issues would say something like that. If you said that someone is an idiot, you haven't said why and you've focused on the fact that they are an idiot. You haven't dealt with the problem at all, and you've potentially caused a problem in the workplace.
  • Sensitivity (Score:3, Funny)

    by FatalTourist ( 633757 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:22PM (#23069682) Homepage

    ...rifles and bell towers?
    Too soon!
  • by Tweekster ( 949766 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:23PM (#23069704)
    Seriously, most people are so afraid of being confronted directly, just flat out say they are wrong and they are attempting to divert the blame and to get out of my face.

    Keep eye contact but just say what everyone already knows but are too afraid.

    Society really has taught us to be wimps in that aspect lately, everyone is frightened of any sort of confrontation. Pick your battles but honestly call him a duck, or more likely an idiot.
    • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:33PM (#23069890)
      You should read the article. The guy that he's referring to was very abusive, refused to actually have dialog, and made the insults personal at every juncture. He was also the CTO, which means that I would get the fuck out of that company as soon as I could. C-level execs should be a pretty good barometer of the management at all levels, since they'll promote people like them and were chosen and kept on for a reason. The only way to deal with certains kinds of assholes with power is to not deal with them.

      And that's what the author ended up doing. Personalities like that are a serious hindrance. I've seen my share of people who divert blame or refuse to admit they're wrong, and usually it's because they receive more blame than they deserve, and usually someone else is in the wrong (and that person is in a position to never have to be wrong). A lot of people in IT are there because they're extremely talented and are right much more often than they're wrong. It creates a lot of potential for misunderstandings.

      I think there's also a fundamental difference between a bully who's a normal coworker and a bully who's above you in the chain of command. There's a big difference between the stress of dealing with and unfriendly person of equal power and the stress of dealing with an unfriendly person who has a lot of power over your company, and management can forget that. I had a boss like that and it was sometimes hard to work with him because he didn't realize that insults weren't appropriate from someone in his position.
      • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:47PM (#23070122) Journal
        I think they're both to blame, frankly. On the one hand you have the CTO who is just pushing his crap product out the door on Friday and scoffing at the idea of training his support people.

        And then you have the support guy who is passive aggressively telling his staff to badger the developer staff (in effect, throwing off his frustration with the CTO on them) and then failing to hash out the issue with his boss on Monday. It's his ass on the line! He needs to either stand up to his boss, he needs to go over his boss to his bosses boss and get him to assert some control over the CTO, or he needs to quit.

        It's certainly doing his career prospects no good, and "It's not my fault" only goes so far for both of them.
    • by TheMCP ( 121589 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @06:50PM (#23070930) Homepage
      Having been in similar positions, I have unfortunately had to develop strategies for dealing with such situations.

      1) If you must have a meeting with someone you know acts like that and talks like that, always bring witnesses. That way there will be someone to testify "oh my god, we made a simple request and he started swearing like a sailor!" to HR later, and he won't be able to tell lies about what you said. An audio recorder works too, but you can get in trouble if you don't make it clear that you have it and are using it, and if you do make it clear they usually won't meet with you and will try to make you look like the unreasonable one. Most people will ignore a coworker you brought along without explanation, and if they do ask for an explanation, you can just say "oh, I thought they might be involved later so I want them to hear the details."

      2) Try to avoid phone calls with the person. If they call you, tell them you're busy and will get back to them right away, and then send them email. (If you have no better excuse, tell them you really have to go to the bathroom. Anything to get them off the phone.) If you have a phone call, even if it seems cordial, you never know what they might claim you said after the fact. If you must have a call with them, try to make it a conference call so you can have a witness, or invite someone into your office and put the call on speaker so the witness can hear it.

      3) If you are having a phone call or meeting with them, if they become belligerent, swear at you, or use inappropriately insulting or hostile language, immediately tell them you will be pleased to communicate with them again in the future when they feel more able to control themselves, and then immediately depart or hang up without further comment. Take any witnesses with you.

      4) After any unavoidable phone calls, immediately email them a summary of your understanding of the call. That way if they want to make claims about the call later, you can produce the email and say "I sent you call notes to prevent misunderstandings, and you didn't disagree with the notes, so if you failed to understand, that's not my problem."

      5) Whenever possible, transact communications with the problem person by email. If they send you any emails in which they are hostile or directly and unequivocally insult you, immediately forward those emails to the person's boss and to HR with a request to know if this is the sort of language or remark that the company feels is appropriate business communication, and state clearly that it is difficult to do your job when reasonable requests are met with hostility and refusal to provide answers. If they actually physically threaten you in email, print it out and walk it directly to HR and insist that you want the police to be called.

      6) Never delete any email except spam. You might need it later.

      7) Never let any direct accusations about your competence that the person makes to your manager or to others pass unaddressed. Use courteous (no swearing) but blunt language to make clear that the accusation is completely false, provide copies of emails and other backup evidence as necessary, and be very clear that you are upset and insulted.

      Unfortunately, people in the computer industry frequently have to deal with hostile users and occasionally hostile incompetent techs. (The competent ones rarely have anything to be hostile about.) I've had to deal with many. By remaining calm, restricting communications to email or channels where there are witnesses, and refusing to accept any BS, I've been able to get most of them terminated, and in the remaining cases I, like the author, felt it was best to move on because obviously the company was run by a pack of idiots.
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:23PM (#23069708) Homepage
    Read the article again from the understanding that the author is either a VP at this organization or at least a peer to VPs, not just some low-level worker getting beat on by upper management. Then notice:

    1. The support team that the author manages didn't get trained on the new version before it went into production.
    2. They didn't know how to support it or even talk properly about the issues.
    3. They didn't follow up properly in documenting the case.
    4. They woke up the VP of software development at 3 AM without having good data for him.

    As the manager of the support team, then, the VP-level person presumedly in charge of making sure his team is properly trained in both the company's product and the troubleshooting processes, the author didn't deserve to get yelled at... why again? I mean, sure, more diplomatic language is probably called for, but at the same time the implication I get from the article is that the author fucked up in a fairly serious way and now is mad that the VP in question wasn't polite enough about it.

    Then there's the other stuff: Complaining about use of the word "fuck"? Trying to start a conversation about Battlestar? What the hell? You're supposed to be an upper-level guy at this company, for pity's sake! You really expect the CIO to waste his/her time getting you to play nice?

    I guess where I'm going here is that I'm having a hard time seeing this as 'IT bullying'. Rather, my reaction is that the author doesn't have any place in management and should move back to a position that better suits his tendancies -- a job were units of work are handed to him and he does them versus a position that requires initiative or, God forbid, a little bit of toughness.

    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:30PM (#23069832)
      I mean, isn't that just ASKING for problems?

      I'd have preferred early Monday morning so EVERYONE would be awake and on-the-job if/when problems arose.
    • by Nos. ( 179609 ) <andrew&thekerrs,ca> on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:34PM (#23069912) Homepage

      Maybe you missed the second page... I'll quote the first paragraph for you:

      Granted, there was much pressure from top management to get this release out by Friday and thus documentation and any internal training were pushed aside. That being said, it turned out a major bug was in the new release and the on-call support engineer had run a baseline test, but couldnâ(TM)t put the results in context with the new reality introduced by this new bug. His only recourse was to escalate, and do it quickly.


      • Senior management was more interested in making the release date than getting documentation in place beforehand.
      • The support team didn't have the knowledge to document the problem properly.
      • Our "VP" (Eric - the author of the article) used a previously agreed upon procedure, they escalated to the developers by first notifying their manager (Eric) who then tried to notify the development manager (Dirk).

      From the details given, I'd like to know what you expected Eric to do differently. Management pressed for the release, even though they knew the support staff wasn't ready. When an issue happened, the support staff tried to follow process to document the issue, couldn't, and followed a proper escalation process.

      • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:47PM (#23070116) Homepage
        You're still reading this like he's some low-level guy. He's not -- he's a direct report of the CIO and a peer of the company VPs. That makes him 'upper management' in my book. At that level, you're responsible for your area even if the things you need to do are hard to accomplish.

        If a new release is coming, it's his job to find a way to get his staff trained to support it and to make the others in management understand the necessity for staff training ahead of the release.

        The release didn't just happen out of the blue. His staff didn't get trained because he didn't make it happen. The same goes for his staff being unable to follow the support procedures -- regardless of the reasons, it's ultimately his job to make sure his organization's procedures work.

        • by Nos. ( 179609 ) <andrew&thekerrs,ca> on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:52PM (#23070182) Homepage
          From the article, I can't make that judgement. Perhaps he had pushed to make sure training and documentation were in place before the release went live. I'm working from the information in the article, and trying not to assume anything. All we have is that senior management pushed for the release date, so that was above Eric's call. We don't know much he did or did not push to hold back the release. Secondly he, and his staff did follow proper support procedures. Its right there that they can go directly to the engineers for a major issue if the managers are notified, which they were.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Skyshadow ( 508 ) *
            Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you're a VP-level employee in charge of support of a production product and your people are not trained in the new version, it's your fault. At that level of management, your very basic responsibility is to get the things your people need to do their job -- in this case, training. The author clearly did not do this.

            Again, it's important not to think of this as a low-level guy. He's a direct-report of the CIO, or in other words he *is* upper management.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Nos. ( 179609 )

              I guess we'll just have to disagree on this point. I read it that the release was pushed from above Eric in their management structure. He may or may not have protested this, I don't know, that point isn't clear to me. I realize he was not a low level guy, but he wasn't the top guy either. As I see it, the release was forced before it was ready, Eric had to deal with the fallout, and did, by following the procedures that had been agreed upon.

              We could go into quite a debate on if he could/should have he

          • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @06:04PM (#23070372) Journal
            Secondly he, and his staff did follow proper support procedures. Its right there that they can go directly to the engineers for a major issue if the managers are notified, which they were.

            My impression is that the procedure assumed a good faith by the support people to clear the problem, and that Eric, instead of digging in his heels on the deployment and lack of training or coming up with an alternative training plan, decided to play it as "OK, if you're not gonna let us train, then there's nothing we can do but take everything directly to you."

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Nos. ( 179609 )
              That may be true, who knows? Regardless of which, Dirk's attitude and comments were not appropriate.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          If a new release is coming, it's his job to find a way to get his staff trained to support it and to make the others in management understand the necessity for staff training ahead of the release.

          You can't manage by fiat - just because you declare something so doesn't make it remotely possible, let alone feasible. And I don't care what your pay grade is. If I come to the Software VP and tell him to develop an OS over the weekend, I can't just use the "you're a VP, make it happen" line. You're using the

    • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:38PM (#23069954)

      The support team that the author manages didn't get trained on the new version before it went into production.
      The author had requested it, but the release was pushed too fast for non-technical reasons.

      They didn't know how to support it or even talk properly about the issues.
      It was a major bug that needed to be escalated immediately. He followed procedure and the other guy didn't.

      They didn't follow up properly in documenting the case.
      Again, major error. When there's a big enough error on a production server, sometimes you don't document the problem. Sometimes you have to get up at 11 am and figure out why 30 leads are getting created every second by the same ip address and it's bringing down the server. As a tech support engineer (which I'm not, but assuming I am), at this point I can do one of two things: I can keep digging and documenting, or I can escalate. The author didn't tell us what the issue is, but he did say it was major.

      They woke up the VP of software development at 3 AM without having good data for him.
      They called, he never answered.

      I could continue, but I've got to ask: were you reading the same article I was? It's possible that the information that was given was wrong and biased, but there wasn't anything in the article that the author did blatantly wrong.
      • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:54PM (#23070210) Homepage

        I could continue, but I've got to ask: were you reading the same article I was? It's possible that the information that was given was wrong and biased, but there wasn't anything in the article that the author did blatantly wrong.
        We read the same article, but from different perspectives.

        Again, remember: We're talking VP-level here, a guy who reports directly to the CIO. At that level, your job is to get out there and accomplish your responsibilities, not to give excuses.

        His actions do not sync with that level of responsibility. A guy at his level should have either found a way to get the basic training accomplished or gotten the release held up -- if the others in management don't understand the importance of getting support caught up, it's his job to make them understand.

        This might sound unreasonable if you're used to thinking from a low- or mid-level management position, but at that level its basic to your job.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fredklein ( 532096 )
          A guy at his level should have either found a way to get the basic training accomplished

          Pull the training materials (and the knowledge inthem) out his exevuative ass?

          or gotten the release held up

          Not always possible. Not a 'politically' smart thing to do,even if possible.

          if the others in management don't understand the importance of getting support caught up

          They understood, they just pushed on anyway.
    • Well actually (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mveloso ( 325617 )
      "had discussed in past management meetings that when the production system goes down, immediate verbal communication between engineers was acceptable to expedite the issue -- as long as the managers were notified."

      If a system dies over the weekend and it's a production system, you get the guys who know on the phone immediately. Basic troubleshooting steps in this case are problematic for two reasons: (1) in general, you want to get the system up as fast as possible, and (2) if the problem was easy to fix, i
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Eric Spiegel offer his a first-hand account of dealing with a tech world geek-gone-bad and presents....
    What experiences have others had that defied all logic and possibly made you want to start looking for rifles and bell towers?

    Dealing a with slashdot article grammar?
  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:23PM (#23069718) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes, it'd very difficult to distinguish between an IT guy who says "You're an idiot" to divert blame for his own failures, and an IT guy who says "You're an idiot" because, well, you're an idiot.

    Especially if you're the idiot.
  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:23PM (#23069720)
    Me: My Cable is Out.
    Broadstripe: Sure enough it looks like there are several places in Seattle experiencing some outages. Crews are out. Is there anything else I can help you with.
    Me: Yes. My Cable is out and I'm pretty sure that it's mostly unrelated to those outages. It's been out for a month. It was out yesterday. It was out the week before that. A cable guy came out to turn on my neighbor's cable... and the same day when I got home from work my internet was down. ... Pause as I assume this is the point where I'll get a scheduled service call...

    Broadstripe: If the cable is out across parts of Seattle how can you conclude that your problem is unrelated.
    Me: Because I assume that most of Seattle hasn't been without cable for a MONTH.
    Broadstripe: We can send someone out between 9am and 6pm on Monday.

    (Yeah sure I'll just take a day off from work to wait for the cable guy. Thanks but no thanks.)

  • by mochan_s ( 536939 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:27PM (#23069778)

    One thing the IT guy loves is little electronics.

    Give him a fancy USB hub that you can buy for $10 or give him a laser keychain or LED toy or a microsoft branded frizbee or just some funny printed looking DVDRs.

    You'd have to go to some bad-english Taiwan, Hong Kong websites to get this stuff cheap but it's useful to slip him one of these everytime he helps you out with a problem.

  • by diskofish ( 1037768 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:29PM (#23069816)
    I like to settle these things challenging them to a fist fight. I even let them choose the fighting ground.
  • Are you an idiot? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ivanmarsh ( 634711 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:30PM (#23069836)
    I don't feel the need to take responsibility for having to dig chocolate cake out of a DVD ROM Drive... but was asked to.

    I don't feel the need to take the responsibility for being asked to diagnose a machine that won't boot up that smells UNMISTAKEABLY like cat urine... but was asked to.

    I don't feel the need to explain why I deleted your iTunes directory off of my server that was taking up 30gigs of storage space... but was asked to.

    I'll be the first to tell you that about 80% of the people that work IT these days have no business doing the job, but there's good reason that even some of the good ones are more than a bit on edge from time to time.

    (What is it, bash IT day?)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Oriumpor ( 446718 )
      I consider myself in the 80th percentile. I shouldn't really be in IT (I care about the user experience) but I also hate my core audience. If I was a rocker, I'd be an Emo rocker insulting my audience as I perform.

      However, when dealing with people (in general) they normally are dealing with me because they're paid much more than me, dumb call or no. Who's really the idiot; the one making the call, or the one getting paid to take it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "I don't feel the need to explain why I deleted your iTunes directory off of my server that was taking up 30gigs of storage space... but was asked to."

      Well, if those were all downloads, you did delete ~ $7,500 worth of data - I'd be pretty keen to know why you did that to save (at today's prices) $6 of storage space.
      • by ivanmarsh ( 634711 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @07:00PM (#23071054)
        Because it's my company's storage space and "you" signed a document when "you" got hired outlining, in detail, the acceptable use policy.

        The real question is why didn't I have "you" summarily terminated as well.
      • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @04:30AM (#23074780)

        Well, if those were all downloads, you did delete ~ $7,500 worth of data - I'd be pretty keen to know why you did that to save (at today's prices) $6 of storage space.
        It's not $6 of storage space at today's prices.

        Firstly, because any serious backend-server is going to be running SCSI or SAS disks, you can double that price straight away.

        Now double it again - RAID 1+0 halves your storage capacity at a stroke.

        Now multiply it by 5 - those 30GB were getting backed up, and if the backup procedure is any good there will be several full backups at any given point in time.

        (OK, that's still a lot less than $7500. Hold on a moment...)

        Now schedule downtime to increase storage capacity - and if your storage systems are already at capacity, include "upgrading the storage system to account for it". This will almost certainly require sign-off at a high level, so you'll have to speak to the IT director (or whoever is appropriate at your company).

        Now explain to the IT Director that you're doing all this because someone decided that they'd like to store all their music from iTunes on a company system - despite there being a clear policy in place forbidding this. Let me know how you get on.
  • by spirit_fingers ( 777604 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:33PM (#23069896)
    As any IT person who supports users directly will tell you, idiots are EVERYWHERE. That said, any IT support person that says that to a user's face would be shitcanned immediately, if s/he were in my IT department. That sort of behavior is inexcusable. IT people need to realize two things: A. in-house IT departments are not typically profit centers, and that makes you disposable. You're there as a problem solver, hand-holder and wet nurse. You're not there to judge, and if you don't like it there are plenty of other IT candidates and outsourcing firms out there who could do your job as well or better; and B. grow up. You're not in high school any more. Stop talking smack about hapless users. Everyone is an idiot about something--even you. And you probably would be a total idiot if you had to do their job.
    • by rantingkitten ( 938138 ) <(kitten) (at) (> on Monday April 14, 2008 @07:08PM (#23071140) Homepage
      A. in-house IT departments are not typically profit centers, and that makes you disposable.

      It's easy to say that until they aren't around, at which point you have a company full of salespeople or whatever who can't get anything done because they have no clue how to use their own computers. While I agree that IT isn't the core focus of most businesses, it is absolutely integral to making any business function. Without IT most businesses would not exist, and knowledgable, adaptable IT staff can mean the difference between a two minute database or email server screwup, and having everything effectively shut down for five hours, so please, reconsider your statement.

      And you probably would be a total idiot if you had to do their job.

      See, I don't think so. Not that I personally would know how to do any arbitrary person's job offhand, of course. But I think the distinction is that most hapless users don't even try, and display little, if any, ability to adjust or extrapolate. Sit the average office yob in front of an application they've never seen before, and their first instinct will be to call for help and complain that they aren't "a computer guy" -- even though they've seen many applications that are very much like it. (Click the menus at the top, guys, just like every other program you've ever seen...)

      While I might not be able to do Joe Punchclock's job, I'd at least be able to take a reasonably good stab at it -- if I'd done similar jobs before. That is what distinguishes normal people from the total idiots.
      Also, your comment is a bit strange to me, since from my point of view, a user who constantly screws up their computer isn't doing his or her job in the first place. While the job might not be directly computer-related, computers are part of the workplace today and aren't going away. Not knowing how to use a computer competently is like not knowing how to use a copy machine -- and bear in mind, no one is asking the user to know how to fix either one, or how they work at a fundamental level. Just use them without breaking things or bothering other people because you can't figure it out.

      All that said, yes, of course it's inappropriate to call someone an idiot to their face, even if they deserve it. But management could help here, too, by not hiring people who lack the basic skills to work in a modern office.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by realmolo ( 574068 )
      You're sort-of correct.

      There's no reason to insult people, or treat them badly in general. But the users, or more specifically management and HR, are also a major part of the problem. FAR too many employees at every level have very minimal computer skills. That would be fine, if a computer wasn't the PRIMARY (and possibly ONLY) tool needed to perform their job.

      IT gets frustrated when they are constantly helping other employees to do tasks that the other employee was *hired to do*. Of course IT doesn't expec
    • by greyhueofdoubt ( 1159527 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @09:22PM (#23072306) Homepage Journal
      I agree with the gist of what you're saying, but I don't think it's correct to say that IT would be idiots in the place of other employees' jobs.

      Computers are special. They are completely intuitive to me, and probably almost everyone here on slashdot, but not to other people. Maybe it's the levels of abstraction- I don't know- but people are more finicky about computers than they are about they way they drive or even their weight. It's a subject that can send reasonable people into foaming rage.


      IT is there to support the employees' use of the technology- tech that they NEED to do their jobs. Me, I'm a jet mechanic. My job is to fix jets, and that's about it. I use tools like drills, rivet guns, hammers, snips, and other stuff. Now imagine a special "Rivet Gun Dept" or RGD whose reason for existing would be to set up, maintain, inventory, and train people on the use of rivet guns. Now as I said before, rivet guns play an important role in my job; without my mad rivet gun skills, I'd be pretty useless as a mechanic. So let's pretend that I no longer need to know anything about rivet guns other than if I sort of... prop it up... like this... and click this button... BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM It will shoot a rivet. Hooray for me, I'm mechanic. Uh oh, my rivet gun came unplugged from the airline! What should I do? Call the RGD? Doesn't that seem ridiculous?


      IT are asked to be the RGD for a bunch of ostensible mechanics. People need to face the music: If you are a lawyer, your job requires a computer. If you are a secretary, your job requires a computer. If you work in data entry, your job requires a computer. And so on. Consider it a skill like driving that will pay big dividends in the long run.

      To Users:
      PEOPLE! These magic boxes are your freakin' livelihood and yet you take absolutely no effort to get to know them, to understand at least what the "Blue E" program is CALLED! You are mechanics, and computers are your rivet guns, and you need to learn how to use them RIGHT NOW. You need to learn the difference between making a shortcut and copying a file. You need to stop sending me links to emails in your Yahoo inbox. You need to stop looking at pr0n with your Big Blue E program. You need to learn HOW TO TURN YOUR CAPS LOCK OFF. BEING OLD IS NO EXCUSE; TYPEWRITERS HAD A SHIFT BUTTON, TOO.

      Sorry about that. I used to work in tech support for a smallish, localish ISP. It taught me some of the most important lessons in my life, like why I will never, ever, EVER work in customer service again.

  • by KiltedKnight ( 171132 ) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:35PM (#23069918) Homepage Journal
    The author did right to leave. He wasn't going to get anywhere as long as the CIO and the development management weren't going to cooperate. However, after this fiasco, I would've considered writing up a new policy and trying to get it through the CIO... one that says, "No training or documentation? No upgrade." There is no other way to deal with this situation, unless you want to escalate above the CIO... but if you do that, you need to have documentation in order to show that the other people and those you skipped around are incompetents and are the cause of the problem. Even if you do have all of your ducks in order, be ready to look for a new job as well.

    I've been lucky enough to not have had these kinds of situations... but then again, I've also been on-call when my software upgrades have gone in AND had a good working relationship with the operations staff. When the few problems happened, they were able to call and get a quick and friendly resolution to the problem without all the name-calling. Almost like we had a system in place........

  • by mooingyak ( 720677 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:40PM (#23069992)
    You deal with different people in different ways (obviously). It's not just a matter of what kind of aggression level they have, it's also (if anything, moreso) a matter of where they stand in relation to you in that company.

    You've got a few main categories:
    1. Peers
    2. Someone who works for you
    3. Someone who works for one of your peers
    4. Your boss
    5. People your boss reports to
    6. People who are senior to you but you don't actually work for (eg, Client Services Manager or some such)

    In all cases though, there are a few guidelines. First, don't ever let the tone and content get condescending. Don't fight fire with fire, simply refuse to even discuss the issue unless they're willing to treat you with respect. This holds true for just about any of the relationships. Obviously you'll have cases where if you don't get a paycheck your kids don't eat, and then you take all kinds of shit if you have to, but that aside, don't let anyone abuse you, even if they own the company.

    Second, be good at what you do. When people frequently need to come to you for help, they tend to be much more forgiving when things are your fault.

    That's about all I got right now.
  • idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trb ( 8509 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:41PM (#23070018)
    When person A calls person B an idiot, it doesn't indicate that person B is an idiot. It does indicate that person A berates people.
  • by bockelboy ( 824282 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:49PM (#23070160)
    One of the best things my boss has taught me to do out of college is to listen to people. Sometimes a person gets whiney or edgy (and if I got a call at 3am, I'd be bitchy too); listen to them, filter out the abusive parts, and find the parts which you need to listen to.

    Finally, if there's anything which needs to be addressed, let them throw their tantrum, and bring it up again later on.

    Don't know about this case, but it works 90% of the time for me.
  • I wonder, though... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lysse ( 516445 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:57PM (#23070264)
    My brother-in-law recently had to change jobs as a result of workplace bullying himself, and the common thread is that the bully themselves might be surmountable, but if the employer consistently enables the bully it makes the situation impossible to deal with. For him too, walking was the only feasible option. So from that perspective, I thought the article rang true. And sadly, sometimes it's hard to make the distinction between someone whose social issues are a result of having no interpersonal skills and someone who's simply antisocial [].

    However, I took a look at one of Mr Spiegel's other articles (this one []), which made me wonder whether he might have been reaping what he sowed. That article ends with the line "Now I wonder if Susan will come back to my team? Would you?" - and having read it, my answer would have to be "Not a chance in hell!". Admittedly, I'm biased - a night-owl myself, I'm habitually hours, rather than minutes, late for work - and yes, the expectations of a public-facing role are of necessity a little different. But someone who is unprepared to make small compromises to a rule they believe to be bad anyway in order to keep an exceptional team member is someone whose own priorities could use some work... and the fact that there were other parts of the company in which Susan's timekeeping wasn't an issue suggests that his insistence upon the rules was frankly pointless, soul-sucking pettifoggery.

    (If you want to argue about that, go for it. I don't care, and I won't be responding - I simply don't understand people who put arbitrary rules above individual differences, I never will, and I don't even want to.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pavera ( 320634 )
      Yeah, after reading the initial article I was slightly on Spiegel's side, not knowing the other side of the story.

      Having read the linked article, I think Mr. Spiegel may be one of the worst managers I've read about. I have quit 2 jobs for similar stickiness on rules. I am a developer, and a night owl, and granted customer support is a little different... But in his very article he contradicts himself. He says that core hours are 9-4:30, he then says if people come in at 7:30 they are allowed to leave at
    • by delirium28 ( 641609 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @07:39PM (#23071462) Journal
      This is an interesting read, but I wouldn't agree that this was karma coming back and biting him in the ass. In reading the earlier article, his team was related to customer support and as such they have a different set of expected hours to keep. While the article mentions that some people showed up at 7:30am and left at 3:30pm, the article didn't say that it was his team members that did so. Susan may be a night owl, but unless she was on the night shift then there are rules to be followed. If there is a clear expectation that support staff work certain hours, then that's expected by the manager and should be enforced.

      Having said that, if Susan was as strong a team member as we are led to believe, then the better solution would be to perhaps offer a different support shift by which she could work the longer hours and pick up things for others. The key to keep in mind here, however, is that if you are going to advertise core hours for support for your customers, then you damn well better make sure that you have the people available. Support is different than development, that's something to keep in mind when you're reading this older article.

      For myself, I've been in support, development and now I'm a manager. Personally I can see his point, but I honestly think his approach was too harsh and I definitely wouldn't want to go back to work for him if I were Susan. If Susan was a "night owl" as she said, then either work to split the support staff into different shifts (4 hours on the phone, 4 hours working tickets) or work to extend your support hours, staggering them as it may. Susan's excuse is weak for a support role at best, but his reaction was overblown as well.

  • I'm a developer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @05:58PM (#23070280)
    If I talked to our support team the day that Dirk is alleged to have done, I would be fired and would completely deserve it.

    As a developer, it is my responsibility that the software works; and if the support team escalates to me it is my responsibility to take charge and resolve the problem for the customer. Afterwards, we and the support team can hold a post-mortem and go through the "if you see something like this next time, here's what you can do to resolve it for the customer; or failing that what you can do to prepare things for me when you escalate."

    It is also my responsibility to see to it that the support team is trained:
      (1) on what they can resolve in my product without escalation
      (2) on how to prepare things for me when escalating
      (3) on how to know the difference between a (1) and a (2) situation.

    I, personally, would rather be called in unnecessarily in a (1) situation than to deal with the consequences of the support team failing to escalate when they should have (and thus making the situation worse).

    I do NOT want the support team to be afraid of escalation. If they don't know what to do, that is a matter of ignorance; and as such is easily curable once identified.

    Stupidity, on the other hand, is expecting the support team to guess at what to do because they've been too intimidated by having developers call them names. And that stupidity is on the part of the developers, not the support team.

    In case it isn't obvious, I find Dirk's behavior, if accurately reported (we are only hearing one side), to be reprehensible.
  • Sounds familiar... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @06:07PM (#23070410) Homepage Journal the client I had for five years. They finally got me out of there, despite my boss assuring me he had my back, no problem keeping the contract, blahblahblah. My first meeting with the incoming brand-newly-created CIO started off with him explaining that he would be replaciong me with his own staff as soon as humanely possible. It took him 5 months. His second in command was a true class act, once agreeing to a plan, changing his mind, forcing a completely untested and foreign solution. All in one two-hour meeting. Only I objected, and he left it that I should not be surprised, after all my ideas had all failed. This was a *new* project. I hadn't screwed this one up, as it hadn't gotten past the design stage before he dismembered it...

    My only solace; I heard 3 years later that he and the CIO were *escorted* from the building by Security. Probably they got caught taking kickbacks from vendors. That's what happened at their last place, where they were allowed to go quietly in the night rather than 'disgrace' a government agency.

    The article got it right. Sometimes you gotta just go. He was up against a dev team manager that was an asshat, a CIO that tolerated that style, and nowhere to turn for sanity. I suspect the dev team was spectacularly unproductive there...

  • by beadfulthings ( 975812 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @06:24PM (#23070626) Journal

    About ten years ago on my second day at a particular job, I met the man who had just been recruited to serve on the same team--we were to be close colleagues. My only recollection of what I was doing is that I was sitting in the back room fooling around with servers--configuring them. After the briefest of introductions, he seated himself in a chair next to me, watched for a few minutes, and proceeded to roll his chair over my feet to get to the box I was working on.

    It was the first of innumerable tooth-gnashingly annoying incidents. He had no concept of even the most rudimentary good manners (table manners and the like), no conversational skills at all, no concept of the "person-hood" of other people, whether they were fellow team members, superiors in the company, people of lesser position (such as cleaners, delivery people), or even women he hoped to date. It's as though the rest of the world was two-dimensional to him. In his more communicative moments, he wondered why people, and especially women, disliked him. The rest of the time he kept up a continuously running monologue, doing all within his power to prevent anyone else from voicing a thought or opinion. With all that, he was technically one of the most brilliant engineers I'd ever encountered.

    It's good to be around people whose skills are better than yours--but only if you can learn something from them. That was impossible in his case. I was in the midst of a long and fairly prosperous career, and I concluded that he was a sociopath and worked my way into a transfer. I think at some level I thought he might open fire on us all some morning and turn our comfortable little server room into a bloodbath. The transfer improved my working life enormously. Another engineer, a much younger man, simply disappeared into another job and life.

    I've come to realize that he was probably suffering from Asperger's [] or some form of high-functioning autism. These conditions were not as well known then as they are now. For his sake, I hope someone encourages him to seek treatment or therapy. He's got a very lonely old age to look forward to.

  • by Scott Lockwood ( 218839 ) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @06:30PM (#23070694) Homepage Journal
    Frankly, when I see a ticket come into the helpdesk system (which I used to run before I started doing interesting things) which says, "My email is broken" and all tickets are submitted to our helpdesk via email, then yes - the user IS an idiot.

    When we get tickets that say, "There are arrows in the porter" when the person (a manager, no less!) is trying to say "There are errors in portal" then yes, the user IS an idiot.

    Rather than complaining that overworked and beleaguered helpdesk folks are rude, why don't you try not being a fucking moron for once?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by British ( 51765 )

      When we get tickets that say, "There are arrows in the porter" when the person (a manager, no less!) is trying to say "There are errors in portal" then yes, the user IS an idiot.

      Here's what you do for that. Mark the ticket "not reproducible" with a note saying: "Checked porter for arrows. No arrows found. Could not reproduce." and mark it as resolved. Spoken Broken English is one thing, but written broken English? Take it as a literal, just for fun.
  • by MythoBeast ( 54294 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @06:48PM (#23070920) Homepage Journal
    After reading through the article, I really have to say that this is probably a case of the support VP not holding his ground against a mean and aggressive development VP. The CIO is also quite a bit to blame for not mediating the dispute very well, but that's support you can't rely on especially if the other VP and the CIO play golf together.

    When you see yourself heading into this kind of position, the very first thing you have to do is go into Cover Your Ass mode. If you see something going into distribution that your people aren't trained for, spell out the liabilities to your CIO. If the development team just plain doesn't have time to actually tell you how things are going to work, then mention it to the CIO, see previous statements. You can't tell me that this was completely unforseen.

    Don't be pushy. You don't have to actually get the CIO to change things. Executives are notorious for failing to accept that their cost-cutting measures might have consequences. But when things go bad and everyone is running around trying to decide who to blame, calling attention to the CYA emails is the best way to say "Don't even think about trying to blame this on me if you don't want me to whip out a can of I told you so."

    People make mistakes. In a highly aggressive environment, people try to blame their mistakes on others. This has nothing to do with IT bullying, it has more to do with geeks trying to play nice with sharks and insisting that they shouldn't have gotten bitten.
  • Linkedin (Score:3, Informative)

    by benh57 ( 525452 ) <bhines.alumni@ucsd@edu> on Monday April 14, 2008 @07:50PM (#23071558) Homepage
    Of course he didn't mention the company name...
    But... Funny thing about social networks these days. LinkedIn. I bet most people on slashdot are in his network. He's only 3 hops from me. So it's really easy to see all the places he has worked. []
    I've added them to my list of 'don't work for these companies'.. :P
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jeremyp ( 130771 )
      You need to invite everybody in Slashdot to your network so that we can see who's on the other end of that URL.
  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:24PM (#23071836) Journal
    Occasionally, you get the backing you need to appropriately deal with a bully. This is a story about just such a situation.

    A few years ago I was doing systems administration for a small group which provided ISP services for a business which happened to work in the same building as we did. They had their own IT crew and support guys, and were generally nice guys. We kept out of each others' way.

    One day we got a phone call from a network administrator at another company. He said that someone using an IP address in our block was attempting to attack one of his systems, repeatedly and and unsuccessfully trying to open an FTP connection to one of their web servers. Working together, we were able to verify that the "attack" was coming from the nice guys downstairs.

    That's where it got a little weird. The other admin demanded the identity of the person at the workstation who was doing the attacking. We blinked - was that the kind of information we could just give out? I didn't think that it was - or at least, that it should be, and that until we'd had the chance to make a good-faith effort to resolve the situation ourselves, we weren't going to go handing someone's name to someone else. So we declined. The conversation got a bit tense, and I asked him to hold on while I contacted my manager.

    His response was even-handed: requests to divulge the personal information of clients would be handled by our legal department. I was the one who got to deliver the message, and so when the other admin bloviated that they were following a policy and would hate to involve their lawyers, I took some relish in replying that we were following a policy too, and offering to forward him our legal department's contact information.

    In the end, it turned out that the "attacker" was actually a consultant being paid by the company he was "attacking." They'd given him bad login information, and his software was being a bit too aggressive in retrying connections. So, much ado about nothing.
  • by haaz ( 3346 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @09:31PM (#23072394) Homepage
    cuz I sure could've used this about thirteen years ago.
  • by Chewbacon ( 797801 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @09:40PM (#23072456)
    Not all clients are innocent. In fact, most I've dealt with would lay blame quicker than I could. I got more calls from my supervisor over things I didn't even do: changing someone's password for laughs when it really expired; blocking someone's account when they failed to authenticate more than 5 times; turning off someone's phone when they really spilled coffee on it and broke it. The list goes on and on. I wasn't a bully. I'd do my job so I could go home at 5 and out on my boat on the weekends, however I was the IT guy who wouldn't keep such a client's justified stupidity a secret.
  • My Own Experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by happyslayer ( 750738 ) <> on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:02PM (#23073154)

    I had an experience in one of my jobs, and it was with a co-worker/subordinate:

    So here it was, me as the head of the IT department for a Navy command, and the only military officer in the shop; everyone else was a civilian contractor.

    After a couple of years, I was feeling very comfortable: Things were getting done, 90% of the users were happy, and I could answer most questions and problems within 30 minutes of the subject coming up, if not right away.

    Then things started going down hill. People were getting frustrated, required maintenance wasn't being done, and the head contractor had screwed up and corrupted the entire mail system (had to spend a whole weekend getting it back.)

    As time went on, things got worse, and I could never figure out how or why. I started getting acid reflux, couldn't sleep, and was wondering why it all seemed to go to hell.

    It all came to a head when, after a particularly thorough chewing out by an unhappy user, one of the techs came and told me that the managing contractor (she of the corrupt email) had been going around behind my back telling everyone how screwed up I was and how everything was going to hell because I didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground.

    (To be fair, she was under a lot of pressure; the company she was working for was planning on firing/"downsizing" to save money, and our 5 person shop was seen as a potential target. Unfortunately, she decided to push her own importance by cutting down me. Definitely passive-aggressive.)

    Anyways, after checking out the sordid tale (just to make sure what I was being told was true), I went home, had a beer, talked to my wife, and then called my boss: Since you can fire the contractor, fire me. I explained that this conflict was hurting the command, and

    • a) She (the managing contractor) was right and I didn't deserve to run the IT department, or
    • b) She was wrong, and I didn't deserve to be treated this way.

    Either way, I wasn't going to take this crap any more. (And yes, I did try to talk to the higher-ups about this, but all they could do was shrug and say "Sorry, we can't get rid of her.")

    Boy, within 30 seconds of getting to work the next morning, everyone had heard about it! At least to me, most people were supportive, and said, "About time!" By mid-morning, the manager in question asked to talk to me privately, and started crying about humiliating this was. She also mentioned that she could get fired if this got back to corporate. All I said was that I couldn't help it; we couldn't seem to work together, and gave my reasons above.

    Well, to make a long story short (I know...too late), the Wing commander called me in, chewed me out for not working out this problem myself (and probably rightfully so...), and then said to get my a$$ back to the job because no one else can do it. I said, "Aye-aye, sir!" and went back to work.

    Things got better in the shop for a good while; I volunteered for a 6-month duty during the war, and when I got back, it didn't matter because I was getting out very soon.

    Moral of the story: I don't know--you tell me if it makes any sense.

  • by Organic Brain Damage ( 863655 ) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @12:45AM (#23073810)
    incompetent boobs.

    The bullying thing is a small problem compared to the idiocy. I left my last job 10 years ago to run my own company(ies) after I realized my boss, the owner of the company, was not going to let the company succeed if it meant doing things better than he could do them himself. Classic case of founder throttling the business. If there's going to be an idiot in charge, it might as well be me.

    Before that I worked for a company where the most senior VP would scream obscenities at managers in meetings if things weren't working out the way he wanted them. He wouldn't scream at anyone approximately his size or larger who would look him squarely in the eye and adopt a physical posture that telegraphed a readiness to punch him in the gut if he tried that crap.
  • by awyeah ( 70462 ) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @01:03AM (#23073894)
    I, too, have a great experience with one of our IT guys... if anyone cares. Before I go into this, I'll start out by saying that I actually like and respect the guy, and I've hung out with him outside of work and, while geeky (aren't we all?), he's pretty cool. He just gets a little bit lippy at the office and I thought it needed to stop.

    I can't go into too many details because we're a public company. But my position at the time was on a customer-facing team. I did a mix of IT stuff and programming, and I'm a pretty knowledgeable person. I'm not an IT guy (programmer by trade), but I am a geek, and I can hold my own. Anyway, my team was in charge of some services that we hosted for our customers. The deal at that time was that while we ran the servers and software, our internal IT group managed the internet connectivity and our firewall. Of course, the IT group managed the internal corporate servers, network, active directory, etc.

    We previously had a manager that was a control freak, and would not let the IT group near our hardware, nor give them access to our systems - even though our systems were in their datacenter - this was the true source of the friction. The way it really should have been was that the IT group should have managed not only the customer hosting network and firewall, the hardware and OS on the servers too. We should simply have been administering the software that runs on those systems. The IT group is the most qualified group to handle the hardware and OS, and it would have made less non-billable work for my team. We all agreed on this, but because of time constraints, we were unable to change things and set them up the "right" way.

    I was the senior engineer in the group, and was generally the person handling our internal hosted services. The senior engineer in the IT group was constantly giving me crap about the way things were set up, and basically treated me like I was an idiot (and even called me an idiot once or twice). Where my case differs from the original poster, however, is that his boss is actually a really reasonable guy, and helped us resolve our differences.

    How did I fix the problem? I sent the following e-mail and CC:'d his boss and mine. From then on, we had a very smooth working relationship. Sure, he was probably still talking crap behind my back, but I'm not there to make friends - I have a job that I need to get done, and from then on, interfacing with the IT group became a lot easier for me. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was when he quoted me a particular non-security-related, unwritten IT policy that we were planning on implementing in the future to make everyones' lives easier, but again due to time constraints, we simply hadn't gotten to it yet.

    Here's the e-mail. Pay close attention to the last paragraph before "No hard feelings" - it sums up my opinion about this type of thing perfectly.


    The next time you decide to quote policies and procedures to me, please don't forget that I regularly go out of my way to make sure I do things the way that you prefer, and I try to follow all of your standards by example.

    Datacomm and MIS have always had to work closely because of the current division of responsibilities when it comes to our internal information systems. I look back on the 2+ years that I have spent working in this department, and see that I have always been treated like a second-class citizen. I understand that you are an expert in your field, and you have the certifications to prove it, and I respect that. I'm sure it took a lot of work. That does not mean that others are not as smart as you, or not as good as you, yet you seem to have no compunction treating people in this way.

    Our groups both have similar purposes: To implement information systems, and then maintain and support them so that they run smoothly for the users. While you do a fantastic job of this implementation and maintenance, your customer service skills are, quite frankly, horrifying. You are con
  • by quux4 ( 932150 ) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @01:42AM (#23074082)
    In TFA, two issues were apparent. First, the bully Dirk. And second, the "I don't care" manager (CIO in this case, and by the way, this sort of manager is v.common in IT). Solutions I've used in this case before:

    1) Flat out refuse to play. "Dirk, you're being an ass. I'm leaving, I'll be back in an hour - but if you're an ass again, I leave again. We can forget this ever happened, but I'm not going to sit through endless replays of it either."

    1) Make those conversations happen around other people. Be sure the bully exposes his bully-ness to as many people as possible (or is forced to rethink the bully tactic).

    3) Have ALL your ducks in a row, and documented. The bully will almost certainly lie, and every time you make his lies apparent, he deflates a bit more. Works especially well in conjunction with #2. Bonus when you catch that lie he made in a CC'd-to-everybody email, which of course bullies love to originate.

    4) Let the bully volunteer to take point on the next deathmarch project - ideally, something you are sure he'll fail monstrously at. It won't be hard to quietly goad him into thinking it was his own idea.

  • by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <> on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @06:52AM (#23075268) Homepage Journal
    Don't look to management for help. Most likely they'll either deny it or blame you and side with the bully.

    I haven't had anything work for an IT Bully.

    I tried being nice, I tried telling them that what they were doing is wrong, I tried reporting them to management, I tried giving them things like food, I helped them out with their projects, I was a team player, but I still got bullied.

    Ultimately I was the one that got fired because I got really sick from the stress of all the bullying. When my health insurance bills got too high, management got rid of me.

    Not much I can do about it. I am better off being self employed. Nobody to bully me then.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger