The Spiceworks Review: The C-Suite relationships IT pros need to build

Our monthly roundup of the best discussions on the online community, from helping users defend themselves against phishing attacks to making friends with the CFO

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One issue that IT pros face is the wrath of frustrated users. While you can’t make everyone happy all of the time, following best practices can help to improve your interactions.

Network admin David Geiger – aka wowitsdave – explains how to make end users hate you in five easy steps. From treating them like ignoramuses to using acronyms and jargon to confuse them, it’s easy to turn users against you.

Geiger offers a piece of advice that any of us could use: “Respect is a decision, and something you don’t need to receive first to give.”

Communication is key, too. “Probably the worst thing you can do to your users is to go silent,” he says. “IT departments can sometimes get the stigma of being unresponsive, and users can feel like their request has fallen into a black hole.” Make sure to update tickets or send emails to keep users informed, even if no progress has been made.

You may be treating your users with respect, but what if their actions aren’t so smart? Say, they click on anything and everything? Network admin Christina Pila was faced with this problem – and even though she was using a spam filter, phishing emails were getting through.

Pila taught her users to stop clicking everything by running a phishing test and presenting the rather dire results to management. “I broke down what malware is, how it threatens our business, and how big of a problem it is,” she said. Management agreed to a training course for users and, half a year later, the company has gone from a whopping 40 per cent to a mere 4.86 per cent phish prone.

But, as Quest John points out: “Some people claim that user education is everything, but as you have shown, if and only if management is on board and backs you up.”

IT pros are often challenged with management buy-in. Spicehead Henrique D. asked for advice on how to outdebate management when making changes they don’t understand. “They cling to the ‘It was always like this and it always worked’ argument. Sometimes we can outdebate them, but sometimes it seems like banging the head [sic] against a rock.”

Network admin Craig Rogers, aka Salsa-Shark, says he usually waves the compliance and security flag when he gets these types of arguments. He also suggests documenting any changes you recommend. “That way if they are denied and something does happen you have yourself covered showing where you suggested a fix to this security hole and it was denied.”

IT manager Kenny8416 says we need to stop seeing management as the enemy. “As IT pros we understand technology, but we also need to learn to understand how businesses work, and how to work with the business to achieve its aims.”

That’s why it’s also important to build strong relationships with the C-suite. IT director Jonah Van Tuyl had a great working relationship with his CFO and saw several high-priority projects funded without much difficulty. Now, a new CFO is starting, and he’s wondering how to make friends with the new CFO or other C-level execs.

“The first step is to spend some time… talking about the company as a whole,” says IT manager Jimmy T. “It’s critical to understand what they think and their goals, and for you to communicate yours. I wouldn’t focus on the tech too much starting off unless they want to.”

And Spicehead Matthew5502 says it’s important to advocate what you believe is the best possible IT decision for the company. “However, if I am overridden, I implement the solution to the very best of my ability, and then sit and make popcorn for the horror show that’s about to ensue when it all goes kaboom.”

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