Eric Spiegel’s got an interesting article about an IT bully at his previous place of employment along with three tips about how to deal with IT bullies.
The first tip is to try to establish a conversational relationship — connect with the other person on a non-work level.
The second tip is to wow this person with a flash of IT brilliance — gain a little geek cred.
Finally, Spiegel suggests involving a third party like a manager or someone who’s already friends with the IT guy to help work things out.
In the end, none of these tips ended up working for Spiegel so he quit his job. I’m sure there were other factors besides just a jerky IT guy (he mentions a jerky manager too) but the fact remains that a shitty workplace is no fun at all and sometimes you’ve just gotta hit the bricks before your soul’s sucked completely dry.
I’ve been on both sides of the IT fence so here are some of my own suggestions for dealing with IT bullies based on personal and professional experience.
1. Same rule as prison; act crazy on your first day. Forcefully rip your keyboard out from the back of your computer and beat the hell out of your monitor for a good minute. Don’t yell anything; just methodically beat on your monitor like you were hammering nails. All future complaints to the IT department will likely be handled promptly and ultimately devoid of passive-aggressive comments.
2. Find the IT guy that wears the exact same thing every day and then go out and buy that very outfit and wear it to work from time to time. Make a point of bumping into him and saying something like, “Ah, I seem to have a Doppelganger!” and then bow and say “After you, sir! Or is it ‘after me, sir?’” and then have a good, hearty laugh. Think Michael Scott from The Office if he dressed like Kip Dynamite all the time.
3. Try to set yourself up to attend the same meetings as IT people once in a while. Every time a project manager or sales person says something, roll your eyes. These people are the bane of the IT department’s existence — salespeople, especially, since they make unreasonable promises to potential clients in order to make a sale and then let IT do all the heavy lifting. Also, they refer to the entire IT staff as “my IT guys” as though they’re half-animal, half-human servants.
4. Don’t try to buddy up to the IT guys who smoke unless you smoke too. They’re just gonna laugh about you after you go back inside. Nobody just steps outside for “fresh air” anymore. It’s not 1952. If you’re planning on starting smoking in order to get in with some or all of your IT staff, practice first. The ones that smoke, smoke a LOT.
5. IT people are always rushing from one place to another, whether it’s truly important or not. They’re hard-wired to respond to distress calls with gusto. As such, help them by semi-aggressively pushing non-IT people out of their way. Don’t push them so hard that you hurt them, but push them like you’d push someone out of the way of a kid on a tricycle — like a “head’s up!” kind of push as opposed to a “hit the deck!!!” push. The IT department will appreciate that you recognize they’ve got an important job to do and your co-workers will appreciate that you’re big on safety.
So yeah. Maybe those things will work. Maybe not, though. Anyone else have any good ideas or stories about IT bullies?